Bed bugs have become a major health issue across the United States. Once thought eradicated, these blood sucking parasites have returned with a vengeance over the last few decades. The emotional toll brought on by even a small scale bed bug infestation can’t be overstated. These blood-sucking pest will quite literally keep folks up at night, leading to unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety for everyone involved.
The financial toll isn’t much better. The cost of battling a bed bug infestation can be substantial, and it can take a while to completely eliminate the infestation once it take root in your home or office. But understanding more about these pests can help to alleviate some of the stress, and knowing how a bed bug invasion begins can help us all avoid a potentially costly infestation.
So lets take a quick look at a few of the most common ways bed bug infestations take hold in homes and offices. Remember, the more you know the better you’ll be able to protect yourself and your family from a potential invasion of hungry bed bugs.
Via Your Shoes and Clothes
Bed bugs will often attach themselves to your shoes and clothing, hitching a ride on you until you reach your next destination. This is one of the most common ways bed bugs travel from one environment to another.
Picking up a hitchhiking bed bug is easier than you might think. These pests turn up in some pretty surprising places, so you never know where you might run into them. You might pick one up in a movie theater, on an airplane, or in a department store. Just about any place that sees a fair amount of human traffic is likely to see some bed bug activity.
On Your Bags and Baggage
Hotels and motels have become hot spots for bed bug activity. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the amount of traffic that passes through their doors. Unfortunately, this means that when we travel we are opening ourselves up to the possibility of picking up some stray bed bugs in our luggage.
When most people check into their hotel or motel room the first thing they do is put their luggage on the bed. This should be avoided if at all possible. You should also try to avoid unpacking your bags and putting your clothing into the hotel furniture.
When you check in to your hotel room place your luggage in the bathroom, or on a clean hard surface. Before you open your bags check the room for signs of bed bugs. If the coast looks clear only then should you open your luggage and unpack.
Before you check out and head home perform another inspection. Check your luggage for signs of bed bugs before repacking. Put any dirty laundry in resealable plastic bags just to be on the safe side. When you get home take your luggage directly to the laundry room and unpack and wash your clothes before bringing them into your living area.
On the Family Pet
Humans aren’t the only animals that can carry bed bugs from one place to another. While it’s rare for bed bugs to attack cats and dogs, it’s not entirely unheard of for household pets to transfer bed bugs into new environments. That’s why it’s important to be careful when taking strays into your home.
Bed bugs won’t use a cat or a dog as a host, but they will be more then happy to attach themselves to the animal’s fur and then drop off when they come into your home. If your family pet picks up a few hitchhikers from another animal while playing outside, and then beds down in your bedroom, the bed will have found a perfect place to set up shop.
On Second-Hand Furniture
Bed bugs don’t only infest beds. They can also infest other items within the home. Bed bugs only need to remain as close to their human hosts as possible. So they will be equally happy infesting a couch, a dresser, or a bookcase. As long as they can come out at night and find someone to feed on they’ll be happy.
This is why you need to be careful about bringing used furniture into your home. Chances are you don’t know where the item has been, and if it’s from an infested building chances are you’ll be bringing bed bugs into your own home.
If you do decide to bring a piece of second-hand furniture into your home make certain you thoroughly inspect it first. You’ll want to remove any pests you may find before bring the item into your own home.
Traveling Under their Own Steam
We’ve talked about hitchhiking bed bugs, and while that may be the most common way these pests travel it’s by no means the only way. Bed bugs will also travel from one location to another wholly under their own steam. This is particularly true in multi-unit buildings like apartment complexes and office blocks. If an infestation is bad enough the bed bugs will definitely crawl from one room to another
So, if you find bed bugs in one apartment chances are the whole building has a problem. This holds true for duplexes, condos, and office buildings. The bed bugs will travel through connecting walls, using vents and cracks for access to neighboring rooms. When it comes to multi-unit buildings, if one room shows signs of bed bug activity chances are all of the rooms have an issue.
What to Do If You Suspect You Have Bed Bugs
As you can see there are many ways bed bugs can get into your home or office, and once there it doesn’t take much for a full infestation to take hold. If you suspect you may have a burgeoning bed bug problem the first step is to contact a professional inspection and removal service right away. The longer you delay the greater the problem may become. The sooner you act, the sooner you can eradicate the problem once and for all.