Bed Bug Invasion 101: Exploring the Top 5 Paths They Take to Reach Your Place

A homeowner is examining his mattress for possible bed bugs

Bed Bugs. The name strikes fear in the hearts of all who hear it.

These tiny insects have a reputation for making many lives miserable. But rather than hiding and hoping for the best, let’s explore the most common ways they manage to enter our homes and learn how to prevent it.

Bed bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown insects. They cannot fly or jump and are most active at night.

Understanding The Enemy

They do not spread diseases among humans, but their bites leave swollen red marks similar to mosquito bites and cause itchiness and discomfort. Common signs of them in your home may include pieces of shed skin, small droppings, bloodstains on sheets, or sightings of the bugs themselves

Bed bugs feed on blood and are constantly moving from one place to another, searching for a new host.

A super zoomed in closeup of a bed bug

But it is not the blood itself that they are attracted to. Instead, it’s the things that they associate with humans, primarily body heat, carbon dioxide, and our scent.

When they find a host, they produce a natural chemical called histamine which attracts more of their kind. They also have the ability to survive several months without a host, so infestations can quickly get out of control if not handled properly.

Luckily there are many actions we can take to protect our homes and reduce the likelihood of this kind of situation. Let’s explore some of the most common causes of bed bug infestations.

Human Transportation

A graphical closeup of bed bugs biting a persons back shoulder area

The number one way that bed bugs are introduced to a new house is by hitching a ride from the people that live there. They can travel on our clothing, our shoes, purses, or backpacks, and even on our skin or hair.

So, the next question becomes… Where do we come into contact with them?

There are many answers to this question since they can be found in practically every public place or form of transportation. However, we will break down some of the most significant.

1. Hotels, Motels, Hostels, Airbnb’s, etc.

Overnight accommodations are a well-known source of bed bug problems, and rightly so. To reduce the risk of bringing home unwanted guests, it is important to read reviews in advance and to thoroughly inspect your room before you make yourself at home.

Check the room, give special attention to the bed, and look for the telltale signs we discussed previously.

2. Public Transportation

Buses, trains, and ride-sharing vehicles are all possible hotbeds for bed bug activity. The same is also true for less common forms of transportation, such as airplanes and cruise ships.

In situations like this, where you have less control of your surroundings, you must do what you can to protect your own belongings.

Stand instead of sitting and avoid putting your things on the floor when you can, and consider lining the interior of your bags with sealed plastic bags or other bedbug-proof storage options.

3. Public Areas

Any place where lots of people spend time is a possible source.

Some include movie theaters, hospitals, and schools. Protect yourself in the same way you would for public transportation.  

4. Multifamily Dwellings

It’s important to be aware that in any building with multiple residents, like apartments, there is a risk that bed bugs could travel from one unit to another.

One of the best things you can do is to read reviews in advance to be sure that your home is not at high risk. If you think your unit may be at risk, make an effort to seal any cracks that may provide an easy entrance.

5. Secondhand Items

Used clothing, furniture, and cars are more potential bed bug risks. It is very important to perform a thorough inspection before bringing these things into your home.

A closeup of a bedbug found on a secondhand purchased white sweater

You can also wash and dry them on high heat in order to kill the insects.

6. Guests

The final and most complicated cause is the people that you invite into your home. As we have discussed, bed bugs are expert hitchhikers and can travel on people for extended periods of time.

There is no simple solution to this problem, but you may suggest that guests leave shoes, coats, etc., outside the house.

The purpose of this article is not to inspire hopelessness and constant fear but to promote awareness of the risk and to educate on prevention and treatment

Precautions and Preventions at Home

Remember, bed bugs are not attracted to dirt or food, only human body heat/scent and CO2. So, when you are bed bug-proofing your home, think about minimizing sources of warmth and scent that bed bugs could mistake for an actual human.

This means picking up piles of laundry, cleaning bed sheets regularly, etc. It is also a good idea to clean and remove clutter to reduce potential hiding places for insects.

A pile of dirty unwashed laundry in a hamper in the corner of someones bedroom

When returning from a trip or an outing to an area where bed bugs may have been present, be sure to wash and dry all clothing on high heat to kill off any that may have hitched a ride. Do the same with any new used items you bring in.

Finally, seal cracks and openings in your house to make it more difficult for bed bugs to follow your scent and body heat into the building.

Even when you take every precaution and do everything correctly, there is always the possibility that bed bugs will find their way into your home.

A Tabor Pest Control team member standing by the company truck

In this scenario, it is wise to seek professional help before the infestation gets out of control. Tabor Pest Control specializes in dealing with these problems and offers the highest quality service in the southern Alabama region.

Frequently Asked Questions

How easy is it for someone to bring bed bugs to your house?

It is very easy for someone to bring bed bugs into your house. All it takes is for them to have stayed in an infested hotel room or to have come into contact with infested furniture or clothing. Bed bugs can also be spread through public transportation or shared spaces, such as movie theaters or libraries.

Can bed bugs travel in my shoes?

Yes, bed bugs can hitch a ride on any piece of clothing, including your shoes. The best way to get rid of them is to wash and/or dry them at high heat before setting them down in your house.

How did I get bed bugs when I haven’t been anywhere?

It is possible to get bed bugs even if you haven’t been anywhere. Bed bugs can be brought into your home through used furniture or clothing that you have purchased. They can also be spread through shared spaces, such as apartment buildings or college dorms.

How can you tell if bed bugs are in your clothes?

Inspect your clothes carefully, looking for signs of the insects themselves, shed skin, or eggs. Pay special attention to the seam lines. When in doubt, wash and dry on high heat to kill any bugs you might have missed.

Do bed bugs only infest beds and mattresses?

Bed bugs can essentially hide anywhere, although they will take interest in anything that carries human body warmth or scent. This means clothes, shoes, backpacks/purses, blankets, etc.

What kills bed bugs instantly?

There is no one solution that will instantly kill bed bugs. However, there are several methods that can be effective in eliminating them, such as heat treatments, insecticides, and vacuuming. It is important to consult with a professional exterminator to determine the best course of action for your specific infestation.