We tend to think of bed bugs as homebodies. Fairly sedentary creatures who, once they’ve colonized our homes and offices, only come out at night to feed on us when we’re fast asleep. But the truth of the matter is bed bugs are ambitious travelers. They’ll happily pick up sticks and move anywhere they think they can find a warm bed and a hot meal (metaphorically speaking). That’s how they spread their infestation throughout the community.
Bed Bugs in the Family Car
Bed bugs will typically attach themselves to clothing or luggage when they want to hitch a lift to a new and potentially more rewarding environment. Some may drop off along the way, making a sort of pit-stop on their journey. That’s why we hear so many reports of bed bugs being spotted on trains, planes and crosstown buses.
But it’s not just public transport that can play host to a nest of bed bugs. The family car can also become home to a colony of these villainous blood suckers. And one thing’s for certain, if you there are bed bugs in your car sooner or later they’re going to move into your home – if they haven’t already.
Inspecting Your Car for Bed Bugs
The first step in clearing your car of bed bugs is to perform a thorough inspection. Bed bugs can be difficult to spot at times, so you need to be fairly methodical in your search:
- First, remove all trash and clutter from your car. Bed bugs aren’t necessarily attracted to trash, but cluttered floorboards provide ample opportunities for them to hide.
- Next, perform a thorough visual inspection of your car. Check along the seams of the upholstery, under the seats, in the glove box and along the console. Remember, bed bugs can hide in the tiniest of spaces so be sure to look everywhere. Use a flashlight if necessary to scope out the darker recesses of the interior.
- Look for the tell-tale signs of bed bug infestation such as blood stains and shed exoskeletons.
- Finally, get down and dirty. Uses double-sided tape to check around the seats and floor mats. Press the tape into any and all crevices. Pull it back and check to see if there are any signs of bed bugs present. Young bed bugs may be difficult to spot, so be sure to look closely.
If you do find signs of bed bugs in your car you’ll want to take immediate steps to eliminate them. Remember, if there are bed bugs in your car they are likely to follow you into your home or office to set up colonies there.
Treating Your Car for Bed Bugs
If you find that bed bugs have set up house in your car there are a few things you can do yourself to attack the problem:
- Remove and shampoo all floor mats. Set them out to dry in the hot noon-day sun. Seat covers and rugs should be put into a hot wash and dried at the highest possible temperature. The heat will help to kill any stray bed bugs that escape the wash cycle.
- Thoroughly vacuum the car’s interior, getting into all of the cracks and crevices. If a hand held vacuum isn’t strong enough try using a more powerful HEPA model. If necessary use the vacuums available at a commercial car wash.
- Steam clean the interior of your car. Steam cleaning helps to kill bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle, and is especially effective against bed bug eggs and larvae.
- Spread diatomaceous earth along any cracks or crevices, and along any seams or gaps in your car’s rugs and upholstery. Diatomaceous earth is a natural rock talcum powder that helps to trap bed bugs. Once caught the insects will dehydrate and die.
These simple steps can help you destroy any bed bugs that may be lurking in your car. However, if the infestation is severe you may need to call for professional help. In which case you should contact a licensed bed bug removal specialist and schedule an inspection right away.
Bed Bugs in Your Home
Finally, if you have found bed bugs in the family car there’s a good chance some of them have already migrated into your home. Don’t panic, but don’t ignore the possibility either. Inspect your home for bed bugs and if necessary bring in a professional exterminator to help put your mind at ease. Remember, the sooner you act the sooner your home and family will be free of bed bugs.