How do bed bugs spread?
This is a question that has been plaguing most of world for the last couple of years.
Bed bugs were once thought to be extinct, gone, expired, caput.
They are here, spreading like wild fire.
Why do bed bugs spread and how do they do it?
This article will be down everything you need to know and how to protect yourself!
Let’s get to it!
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
How do bed bugs spread from person to person?
If you’re trying to figure out how bed bugs spread, then the first question you need to answer, is “How do they move from person to person?”.
The answer to this question includes hotels, rental cars, taxi cabs, and just about any other form of public occupancy.
We are getting REALLY good at traveling great distances fast.
Airplane tickets are getting cheaper.
Uber and Lyft make it extremely easy to get around your city quickly and conveniently.
There are SO many ways for people to get close to one another and accidentally spread bed bugs around.
And it’s not because you are dirty (although it helps to be clean) but the extreme volume of people that come into contact with one another make it possible for bed bugs to spread.
Say you’re going on a business trip to Wilmington, Delaware.
You book a 3-night hotel stay at a Hilton and round trip plane ticket.
The next day you embark on your journey to Delaware, get on your plane, and arrive at your hotel exhausted…
You open up your suitcase grab your pajamas and throw your bag on the floor. You’re passed out before you even get a chance to brush your teeth.
Unfortunately for you, the previous owner brought bed bugs with them from some other location.
They crawl up onto you and bite you as you sleep leaving a couple marks that resemble mosquito bites (which is a good thing, but i’ll get to that later).
You left your bag next to the bed, so they go into that bag to hide after they’ve had their blood meal.
The next morning you awake, go to work, and do your work thing until it’s time to pack up and get on a flight to go back home.
So you come back to the hotel, pack up all of your things (including your new bed bugs) and get on a plane back to your house.
When you arrive back at your home, you’ll probably do what every other normal person would do…
Throw your suitcase on the floor and get to it later.
The longer you wait the greater chance the bed bugs will get out of your suitcase and find a new place to hide. This hiding spot, will most likely be around your bed area.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how bed bugs spread from person to person.
Now don’ get me wrong, this was just ONE example of how it could turn out.
If you take public transportation, a bus provides lots of opportunity to hitchhike onto your luggage or jacket. Getting inside an Uber or Lyft could create the chance to pick up a couple bugs as well.
How do bed bugs spread from house to house?
Now that you have some idea of how bed bugs spread around, let’s have a look at how they spread throughout your home…
If you’ve ever seen a bed bug you’d think that they are very immobile, slow creatures.
And you’d be right!
They are slow, but where they lack in their speed, they make up for in their ability to hide.
Bed bugs are amazing at hiding.
They can fit their flat bodies in just about any crack or crevice. This makes it very easy for them to get around your house.
By their very nature, bed bugs don’t want to spread around, they actually like to stay together for warmth.
What they’ll do is stay together near their food source (i.e., you). But when you start to notice bites, you’ll probably start to…
- Get anxious that you have bed bugs (mistake #1)
- Start sleeping in the living room to see if that stop the madness (mistake #2)
- Put a couple of bed bug insecticidal bombs in your room to annihilate the problem before it ever gets started (mistake #3)
All of these mistakes will increase the chance that bed bugs will spread around your house.
If you try to sleep in a different room, they’ll end up following you into that room further spreading around your home.
If you try to spray aerosols to kill them, you’ll force them to find new places in your home to hide. It’s rare that aerosol sprays are able to penetrate each crack and crevice in your house, thus making your bed bug problem worse.
This is how bed bugs spread around your home.
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How do bed bugs spread from room to room?
Now that you know how bed bugs get around from person to person and take over your home, let’s have a look at house they actually spread between rooms.
You have to remember, that bed bugs are really small and flat.
This makes it easy from them to crawl in between voids in your walls, electrical sockets, and just about any other crack or crevice.
If you decide to sleep in another room, bed bugs will find you by the CO2 you emit while you sleep.
They’ll get to you through the wall, hallways, or just about any other way possible for a blood meal.
Bed bugs have even been known to climb on walls to get to their food source circumventing even the most well placed bed bug traps.
Take a look at the below video for an example of bed bugs getting around by climbing walls. The black stuff is fecal matter (gross!).
Again, the primary reasons bed bugs spread from room to room are because of three main factors:
- You were anxious that you have bed bugs so you tried moving around a lot shifting your stuff, etc (mistake #1)
- You started sleeping in a different room in hopes to trick bed bugs and escape their grasp (mistake #2)
- You put a couple of bed bug bombs in your room to annihilate the problem before it ever gets started (mistake #3)
All of the above mistakes would result in you increasing the chance that you’ll spread bed bugs around the rooms of your house.
How do bed bugs spread in apartment buildings?
The last bit we’ll talk about in our bed bug spreading tutorial, is how bed bugs spread around apartment buildings.
Similar to homes, bed bugs will move around the walls, hallways, and doorways to get around.
Because apartments tend to be directly adjacent to one another it increase the risk of bed bugs tremendously.
Let’s put it this way…
If you read the previous section on how bed bugs get into your house, then you know that luggage, suitcases, and general travel is the main way bed bugs get in.
Now multiply that by how many units are in the apartment building, and you have yourself a lot of opportunity to get bed bugs.
Now don’t get me wrong, just because you live in an apartment building, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get them yourself or from your neighbors, but it is worth knowing HOW it could happen and defending yourself properly with sounds bed bug defense strategies.
How do you stop bed bugs from spreading around?
Stopping bed bugs from spreading is like trying to stop your faucet from running water by covering it with your hands…
It’s going to be hard.
But it can be done with appropriate preventive, detective, and corrective measures…
The goal would be to catch them early through the use of bed bug traps and/or closely watching your belongings.
1. Use Bed Bug Traps
Bed bug traps aren’t going completely stop bed bugs from getting to you, but they will provide a way to monitor if you’ve developed an infestation by catching a few. (see more on bed bug traps here)
2. Use Bed Bug Steamers & Vacuums
After you come back from travel, you should take appropriate measures to clean all of your clothes and belongings (suit case included) with a bed bug steamer or vacuum. Bed bugs HATE heat. Temperatures over 100 degrees begin to start killing bed bugs and their eggs. (see more on bed bug steamers and vacuums here)