How do bed bugs spread?

Bed bugs are good at hitchhiking and can, in practice, hitch a lift with us almost anywhere. A single fertilized female is all that is needed for a new infestation to breakout.  Bed bugs like living close to food, and 9 times out of 10 we find bed bug infestations in beds (or where we sleep). The higher turnover of guests a hotel, B&B, hostel or bed has, the greater the risk of that place being affected by an infestation of bed bugs. Problems can also occur in public environments such as on trains, buses and aeroplanes, even cinemas and waiting rooms, etc., places where we humans spend time.

Essentially, bed bugs are spread via our belongings, e.g. bags and furniture. And because they are drawn to our scent and want to be near us, they can be spread by any object that carries our scent. E.g. sofas, suitcases, handbags, rucksacks, shoes, sweaty tracksuits, banking books, soft toys, mobile phones, leather wallets or leather wristbands etc. The list goes on.

After an infestation has been established and as the number of bed bugs increases, the risk of them spreading to other places in the room and adjacent rooms or apartments, as well as to public environments, also increases. The sooner we can detect, or better still, prevent, an infestation and the quicker a treatment can be made, the less risk there is of spreading. We always recommend that anyone affected by bed bugs hires a professional pest control company as soon as there are signs of an infestation.

Where do bed bugs like to dwell?

Bed bugs want to be close to us and they are experts at hiding. They hide in dark confined spaces, cracks and crevices, for most of the time and only come out to feed on us. This usually happens at night when it is dark, which makes it even harder to discover an ongoing infestation early.

The fact that they are more attracted to dirty and untidy rooms is a myth, and this has often made victims of an infestation not only feel uncomfortable about the actual bed bugs, but also about what it suggests about their own standards of hygiene. But this is not true, even clinically clean homes have places for bed bugs to hide without detection, e.g. under beds, behind wall mouldings etc. The only condition required for a bed bug to exist is for a person to be in the bed/room. It is not possible to remove an infestation of bed bugs only by cleaning.

Cimex Lectularius
Bed bugs that bite

them to start looking for food, our body heat and unique human scent (cairomones) helps them to find the target when they get close to us. The scent we give off enables the bed bugs to differentiate us from other mammals. (However, a bed bug does not hesitate to bite our pets if it cannot access human blood.)

Those who travel frequently or come into contact with people a lot (i.e. those who host overnight guests or who sleep away from home often), and especially those who buy a lot of ”second hand” furniture are at higher risk of encountering bed bugs. Storage or jumble sale finds can pose a risk of bed bugs!  The businesses that run the highest risk of bed bug problems are those that offer overnight stays, e.g. different types of short-term residencies such as student housing and hotels.

Early detection and immediate control measures are crucial when it comes to a bed bug infestation, partly to reduce the risk of spreading and partly because of discomfort and suffering, including costs or reputational damage, to the victim.

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