How To Prevent Spread Of Bed Bugs

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Protecting Your Home from Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are great hitchhikers. They can move from an infested site to a new home by traveling on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing.

Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs can be quite resilient; they are capable of surviving several months to a year without feeding.

A few simple precautions can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home:

  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home.
  • Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs to eliminate many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasement regularly for holes or a cover that has been pre-treated with pesticide to control bed bugs.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Vacuum frequently to remove any successful hitchhikers.
  • Be vigilant when using shared laundry facilities. Transport items to be washed in plastic bags (if you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the journey home). Remove from dryer directly into bag and fold at home. (A dryer on high heat can kill bed bugs.)
  • If you live in a multi-family home, try to isolate your unit by:
  • Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement into hallways.
  • Sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc., to discourage movement through wall voids.
  • Consider purchasing a portable heating chamber to treat any items that you believe may have bed bugs.
    • Be sure to read and carefully follow the directions if you use one of these units and be aware that they are not regulated by EPA or other federal agencies.
    • More information on controlling bed bugs.
    • Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

      How do Bed Bugs Spread and How to Prevent it

      People often wonder where bed bugs live, how they spread and the ways to prevent this. So, in this guide, we will mainly study how bed bugs spread from place to place and the important steps one can take to prevent this from happening.

      Where are they commonly found?

      Bed bugs are found throughout the world. The most common type of bed bug, the Cimex Lectularius, lives in cooler regions, and one can find it in many parts of North America, Europe as well as some parts of Asia. Similarly, the tropical bed bug (the Cimex Hemipterus) is found in tropical or warmer regions like Africa, Asia, South America and certain parts of North America.

      How do bed bugs spread?

      The answer to this question is very simple: bed bugs simply hitchhike their way into our homes through our luggage, on buses, trains and even airplanes. In most of the infestations, homeowners have either traveled to or stayed in infested motels or rental properties. Bed bugs also spread through discarded infested furniture, mattresses, shoes, books and other items that are innocently picked up by people.

      The worst part is that bed bugs are difficult to spot. They hide in cracks and crevices in furniture, wall sockets and electrical outlets etc. The larvae and eggs of bed bugs measure less than 1/25” making it difficult to get rid of them easily.

      How to prevent bed bugs from spreading?

      People dealing with a bed bug infestation must feel a moral obligation in preventing bed bugs from spreading. It is often embarrassing to admit to an infestation in the first place, since most people feel that it is a sign of unhygienic conditions. While this is true to some extent; it is important to note that no matter how clean and spotless a home or a hotel is, bed bugs can still reside in it. And once they come into our homes, it is difficult to get rid of them.

      However, there are ways of preventing the spreading of bed bugs.

      • When travelling, carry few trash/ plastic bags to store items in. Seal your shoes, clothing and other necessities in these bags to protect them from bed bugs.
      • Never place your luggage near furniture, walls and beds in motels and hotels as these are the areas that are frequented by the bugs. The best place to store your luggage and shoes in motels is the bathroom or your car, as bed bugs normally prefer inhabiting areas closer to the sleeping hosts.
      • If you see signs of bed bug activity on your hotel beds (such as rust colored fecal stains, discarded exoskeletons and other bed bug debris) do notify the hotel management staff. They might already be aware of the problem and even using an integrated pest management system. Most hotels will also offer to give you another room or it is best to change the hotel if possible.
      • If you have bed bugs in your home, inform potential guests beforehand so as to prevent bed bugs from spreading to their homes.

      What to do if you see bed bug signs where you are staying?

      • The best thing to do is notify the owner or manager. Do not spray any pesticide as other people/guests (or house pets) could be allergic to these. Moreover, spraying ineffective pesticides can also be detrimental to the efforts of bed bug control programs that are already in place.
      • Seal all your items in trash bags or plastic bags and if possible, place your luggage in these bags. Store the luggage away from the infested room, preferably in the car or in the bathroom.
      • Inspect yourself and your clothes that you are wearing currently to see if bed bugs have crawled on them. Do not apply any insecticide on your person; rather brush or dust the clothing.
      • Once you are home, brush your clothes again. Open and unpack your luggage outdoors to contain the infestation.
      • Launder all clothing in hot water and on the highest heat setting to kill bed bugs, eggs and larvae. Keep all clothing sealed until it is ready to be washed. Do not leave infested items near beds, on the floor or near clean clothes.
      • Place the luggage (backpacks and duffel bags) in dryers for 30 minutes.
      • Never leave infested items that you wish to discard near trash cans as unsuspecting people might pick them up leading to the spread of bed bugs.

      Call professional bed bug exterminators rather than dealing with large infestation on your own. This is the most important step for preventing the spread of bed bugs.

      How to Prevent Bed Bugs

      Updated: April 11, 2019

      This article was co-authored by Jurdy Dugdale, RN. Jurdy Dugdale is a Registered Nurse in Florida. She received her Nursing License from the Florida Board of Nursing in 1989.

      There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

      Bed bugs are a growing concern since they’ve become more common in recent years and are extremely difficult to exterminate. While hotels are high on the list of bed bug concerns, any public place can be a haven for bed bugs. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home. By avoiding contaminated materials, avoiding bed bugs while traveling, and protecting your home, you can prevent bed bugs.

      Related wikiHows

      About this article

      To prevent bed bugs, use protective plastic covers on your mattress and box springs so bed bugs will not be able to infect your bed even if you accidentally bring them home. When you’re staying in a hotel, check the sheets, mattress, and headboard for small brownish bugs, and contact management if you find any. Wash your travel clothes separately from your regular laundry and dry them on the highest possible heat setting. To learn how using essential oils can help repel bed bugs, read on!

      How do Bed Bugs Spread? Are they Contagious? How Fast/Easily from Person, Room or House?

      A couple of factors influence the spread of bed bugs from one place to another. Some individuals wonder of these insects are contagious. Here is an insight into how fast or easy they disperse and ways to curb it.

      Are Bed Bugs Contagious? How do they spread from person to person?

      Bed bugs are a big source of discomfort and embarrassment when you have them infesting your house or crawling on your clothing.

      These tiny reddish or brown critters have been known to be the biggest infestations of households since centuries ago and comically have chosen where your best relaxation spots as they chill zones so as to get their blood meals.

      They happen to be nocturnal based on their retreat in the light of day and tendency to wage wars in the night. During the day, they are able to hide from plain eye sight by selecting small and dark places

      Bedbug infestation

      It is worthwhile mentioning that bed bugs do not predominantly prefer your body as a hiding spot and this makes them hardly transferrable from one person to another through physical contact.

      However, physical contact is relative as it is limited by time factor and the duration of contact between the source and recipient.

      Their distribution is therefore dependent on the availability of a vector that should be able to allow the transfer of bed bugs from one person to another.

      Such ‘vectors’ may include luggage, furniture and electronic gadgets.

      Thus far, for an organism to be contagious, there should be an element of life on the host in which it relies on for its livelihood.

      Notice that in the case of bed bugs, they do not live on the host’s body and therefore not contagious.

      Inclusive of a time element of contact between individuals, then it can be logically supposed that you contracted bed bugs from person A and hence deemed ‘contagious’.

      Indirect contact is the principal means through which bed bugs are transmissible from one person to another.

      So how do bed bugs spread from one person to another through an indirect means?

      To answer your question, you need to understand and identify the dominant hideouts of bed bugs in your household then pick out the items that may facilitate their transmission.

      In households, bed bugs are able to hide in the following areas as referenced from the University of Kentucky;

      1. Box springs,
      2. Baseboards,
      3. Dressers,
      4. Mattresses,
      5. Bedding,
      6. Luggage,
      7. Closets,
      8. Electronics,
      9. Rugs,
      10. Carpets,
      11. Tiles on floors,
      12. Curtains,
      13. Curtain boards,
      14. Behind wallpapers
      15. Picture frames,
      16. Switches on walls

      From your list above, you can be able to pick out the items that are mobile enough to allow transmission from person A to you.

      You have probably picked out luggage, clothing in closets, electronics, picture frames, bedding of pets, purses and books. This list will never be exhaustive however.

      Circumstances that may result in mobility of such items occur during travel when you do with your infested luggage, clothing or bus seat.

      The latter is normally left out among vectors of transfer and measures to mitigate such transfers are occasionally put into context.

      You might not have ferried many bed bugs, but a few of them could lead to a robust establishment in your residence that you may end up battling for the next decade.

      How fast do bed bugs spread from room to room?

      How do they spread from room to room?

      When it comes to transfer of bed bugs from one room to another either in a lodging or in your own house once someone has brought some home, they may travel along the ceiling to other rooms.

      Bed bugs have been observed to even fall from the ceiling to the bed making them one of the most cunny insects in the world. Fortunately for you, they do not fly!

      How fast?

      The speed at which bed bugs could mount an infestation depends on a number of factors that come into play either to promote or suppress its spread.

      Such factors include the availability of an optimal condition or environment for its growth and the number of bed bugs that have been brought home.

      Preliminary measures to preventing them perhaps set up before could also reduce the rate at which bed bugs spread.

      This means that you might have set up some traps or covered your bedding or previously eminent cracks and fixed your loosely fitted sockets and switch plates, moves that avail very limited spots in which bed bugs can hide.

      Therefore, this article will look at an ideal scenario where there is a provision for optimal conditions, physiologic reproductive capacity of bed bugs among other limiting influencers.

      One good thing is that bed bugs could take long before they can actually start becoming a nuisance. Consider a scenario with a single female bed bug with the ability to lay about 100 eggs at least.

      This would be perhaps in the first month and hence translated into infant bed bugs with an allowance of premature death, would make about 70 bed bugs.

      This number would further translate into about ¾ of them developing and growing into adults. Therefore, by the second month, you will have about 35 bed bug adults that can mate and make more bed bugs.

      It is almost assured that by the end of the third month, you will be hosting a colony of over 150 adults and more than a thousand developing nymphs.

      At this point, the infestation has gone way overboard and you may need the assistance of professionals to help you treat it.

      It therefore occurs as imperative that adequate measures be instituted in the second month before it may get any catastrophic.

      According to Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, this number, by the sixth month may have increased in magnitudes of about 8-10.

      How do bed bugs spread from house to house?

      Bed bugs are transmissible from one house to another. Well, this depends on how the houses are built and spaced from each other.

      Consider apartments in a block; such as observed in motels and lodgings or hostels in a university.

      If the house next door shares a wall with the other on both sides and is infested with bed bugs, chances are they are breeding in the houses next door too and spreading.

      There have been rampant cases of failing treatment of bed bugs infestation in apartments and hostels due to such loopholes.

      In this case, spraying a single room may still allow bed bugs to escape into the next houses then come back when there is a ceasefire or equal measures instigated by the neighbor and it becomes a vicious cycle.

      There are various ways in which bed bugs are able to travel from one house to another including:

      1. Travel through cracks and holes in walls
      2. Through ceilings
      3. Through spaces under the door
      4. Through pipes and other connecting systems
      5. Through sharing of furniture and other ‘vector’ materials.
      6. Visitations

      Therefore, house to house transfers are quite hard to monitor and at times neighbors find themselves blaming each other for their infestations ending up in a ‘chicken or egg’ scenario.

      How easily & long does it take for bed bugs to spread?

      How long for them to spread? What factors will determine the duration an ease. Spread of bed bugs once they have been brought to your house will depend on whether:

      1. If a female bed bug, has mated.
      2. If a female bed bug, has a male partner for them to mate
      3. There are optimal conditions including temperature relevant for its growth and development
      4. Its hide-outs are well placed for breeding and retreats.
      5. You will instigate measures to treat and impending infestation
      6. A vector material is available for its transmission.

      Hence, such factors are influential in determining the rate, extent and ease of spread of bed bugs.

      How to control the Spread

      It is important that you always have measures that will help you prevent spread of bed bugs.

      This is regardless of whether you have them and would not want them spreading into your neighbor’s house, spread from your travel accommodation to your own house or reducing the rate of spread among rooms in your own house. You can consider the following tips:

      Inspect your clothing before wearing them:

      Since bed bugs can hide in between your clothing in the closet, it is necessary to ensure that the clothing you choose for the day isn’t ferrying any bed bugs.

      This, you can do through physical inspection especially along the corners of sections sewn together and thoroughly doing so for dark colored clothes.

      Iron the clothes thereafter paying keen interest on the corners, sleeves, collars and edges of your shirt, blouse or trousers. Shoes, socks, scarfs and caps are also possible areas in which bed bugs can hide.

      If you have a dryer, you can heat your heat-stable clothing for about 30 minutes. If you do this a night before, you can insert the clothes in a plastic bag and seal it so that they are ready to wear on the following day.

      Once you are dressed, leave without having to sit on the bed or furniture otherwise they might just crawl back onto you. Do so for your purse, had bag or brief-case.

      Inspect your purse, wallet and bags

      Do this frequently so that you are able to take out everything that you have in the bag and clean it. Cleaning could involve washing it, allowing it to dry then heating it in a dryer for a few minutes.

      Flip through the pages of your books too as they could be in there. Other ways in which you can clean your bags, which happens to be less cumbersome includes vacuuming or brushing them.

      Above all, once you have a clean bag devoid of bed bugs, seal them in a plastic bag.

      Traveling anti-bug measures

      Choice of accommodation is important to ensure that you sleep in rooms that have been frequently treated. While bed bugs have been rampant for motels and lodgings, even quite lavish hotels are beginning to indicate that bed bugs do not choose their blood meals.

      Therefore, do not assume that since you are in a posh hotel, you are safe from bed bugs. Hang your bag on the hook instead of having them on the bed or on the floor.

      Ensure that you inspect the corners of your bed and the mattress on which you are going to use and make a call for changes if you notice any danger signs.

      Once you get home, leave the bags outside and only let them in when you have treated them if you are from an area with an infestation.

      More information on Bed Bugs

      Identification, Pictures, Signs & Facts

      Control Measures

      Getting rid and killing involves chemicals, DIY, natural remedies among other methods.

      How to Prevent Spreading Bed Bugs to Others

      Bed bugs are a nuisance, particularly throughout areas of Canada. Toronto has been hit especially hard with bed bugs. In fact, many pest control experts have suggested that if people can afford it, they should throw out infested belongings and start over. If you are currently battling with bed bugs, you should take care not to spread them to others. There are ways you can prevent the spread of bed bugs with the right tips and advice.

      Clothing

      First and foremost, you should take care of any clothes you plan to bring with you when travelling or planning an overnight at somebody else’s house. You should also treat the clothes you plan to wear to work or out to the store to prevent spreading bed bugs. Place your clothes in the dryer and turn it to the hottest setting. Let your clothes toss on a high heat setting for at least thirty minutes. Make sure you include everything, including your undergarments, coat, jacket, gloves, hat, and coat. After the dryer turns off, remove your clothes and shake them out one by one to remove dead bed bugs. Immediately put your clothes in a tightly sealed plastic or vacuum sealed bag so bed bugs do not re-infest them. Do not remove the clothes from the bag until you plan on leaving. Changing your clothes for the day should be the last thing you do so you can avoid bed bugs reattaching to your clothes. Make sure you do not stop to sit once you have your clothes on. Instead, immediately leave your house to go to work.

      Baggage

      If you are leaving town for any amount of time, you will need to bring baggage with you. If you step out for work, you are likely going to have a purse, satchel, or briefcase with you. Bed bugs commonly travel to new locations via baggage carried by others. Remove everything from your luggage, purse, satchel, or briefcase. Search the seams for signs of bed bugs. If possible, place the baggage in the dryer like you did with your clothes. If you cannot wash the baggage, it is best to grab a vacuum and vacuum seams and edges thoroughly to remove bed bugs. As with the clothes, you should place your baggage in a vacuum sealed bag so bed bugs do not crawl into them. Grab your baggage and leave the home as soon as you have fresh, clean clothes on. Do not sit your baggage down anywhere once you remove it from the vacuum sealed bag.

      If you must vacuum seams and edges, make sure you remove the vacuum bag of the container immediately. Live bed bugs can crawl out of the vacuum and re-infest your home. Dump the contents of the container or place the vacuum bag in an outdoor trash bin with a tightly sealed lid. If you must put your bag down for any reason, consider hanging it up in an area where it will not touch the floor or other items you have hanging up. If the baggage touches anything that has not been treated already, it could allow bed bugs back into your baggage.

      Extermination

      Most importantly, get in touch with an exterminator. A bed bug extermination professional can provide you with proper treatment for bed bugs, which will prevent spreading bed bugs. You simply cannot battle bed bugs on your own, no matter what you do. Professional extermination methods are the only way to treat the problem.

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