Bed bugs have an annoying way of popping up when you never expect them. At first, you’ll spot just one, then five, then ten, and finally an army hiding under your mattress or couch.

But where did they come from? Well, the most notorious source is usually shared public accommodations like hotels, motels, schools, colleges, and second-hand furniture.

When staying in such places, bed bugs can easily hitch a ride on your clothes or luggage, then come into your house to reproduce and multiply.

What causes bedbugs in the first place

Why and how bedbugs spread

The truth about bedbugs is that they have been hanging around for thousands of years. In fact, their infestations can be traced back to the ancient reigns of the Roman empire!

But these bedbugs need blood to survive and reproduce. So, their main reason for spreading is to get closer to a potential host. If there’s more of you in the house, bedbugs will start moving to other rooms as their colony grows.

You may also aid in their movement when you move an infested item from one room to another.

Moreover, bedbugs could also migrate and spread when you attempt to kill them using the traditional inefficient methods. They’ll move to a safer room to avoid your treatments, then move back once you reoccupy the room.

Main causes of bed bug infestations

Knowing why they move, there are many reasons why you could have a bedbug infestation in your house. However, the most common reasons in the United States include:

Traveling

While bedbugs aren’t the first things you worry about when planning your travels, they should actually be a top concern. Traveling whether by plane, trains or buses means sitting in public spaces that thousands of other people have been.

Therefore, even if just one person happens to drop a bedbug, they’re likely to breed and multiply making it easier for you to carry one back home.

Sleeping in hotels, Airbnbs, or motels during your travels could also be another reason for your infestation. Bedbugs could easily clutch onto your clothes when sleeping on the beds, or even into your luggage while you’re packing.

To avoid this, always check your clothes and luggage before leaving any public accommodation facility.

Buying used furniture

Buying second-hand furniture is always a cheaper alternative for many homeowners. Nonetheless, you never really know why some people get rid of their furniture, especially if it seems to be in very good condition.

In some cases, property owners choose to sell their furniture if they’re infested with bedbugs. And even if they tried to kill the bugs before selling, most of them do a shoddy job at it and don’t kill the bedbug eggs.

Therefore, if you started noticing bedbugs in your home and you were in the market for furniture recently, that could be your source.

The case remains the same for rental furniture. Keep in mind, bedbugs can last for more than a year without any food.

So, regardless of how long you’ve had the furniture, it could still be the culprit.

Schools and colleges

Just like hotels and Airbnbs, schools and colleges have the same problem with bedbugs.

Due to the large population staying in the hostels or dorm rooms, one person can bring a bug and they’ll multiply across all the accommodations. Your kids will then bring them home during their college break.

Some bedbug infestations have also been traced back to daycare centers and brought home by your kids when they sleep on the couches or mattresses.

Other popular places that could be the source of your bedbugs include:

  • Theaters and libraries
  • Business and federal buildings
  • Friends, relatives or neighbor’s house
  • Laundries and shelters
  • Other locations where many people congregate.

How to avoid bringing bedbugs home

Now that you know you might be the cause of the infestation in your house, it’s time to learn how you can avoid bringing these bugs home. Here are a few steps you can take:

Know how a bedbug looks like

While this sounds obvious, you’d be surprised to find that based on a survey conducted by entomologists from the University of Kentucky, just one in three hotel visitors can identify a full-size bedbug.

Therefore, before looking for some actionable tips, you ought to first familiarize yourself with how a bedbug looks like.

According to the EPA, an adult bedbug is a small apple seed-sized bug that’s long and brown with a flat, oval-shaped body when unfed. If fed, it’s more elongated and balloon-like, and can appear reddish-brown.

Inspect your hotel room/accommodation

If you know how your bloodsucking enemy looks like, your next step should be inspecting your accommodations for any signs of an infestation. Bedbugs are really good hiders, so be thorough in your search.

Flip the mattress, check the headboard, seams, and joints of couches, chairs, cushions, and curtains. If there’s a drawer, check the joints and also the electrical receptacles and appliances.

Nevertheless, don’t tear the room apart as this could just move the bugs closer to your luggage, or to newer parts of the room.

Keep your luggage off the floor

Just because you haven’t seen any of these unwanted visitors doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Therefore, don’t try and risk your belongings. Place your luggage on a surface that’s carefully inspected such as your dresser or a luggage rack.

If you’re only staying in the room for one of two nights, don’t bother unpacking everything, just remove what you need then ensure your suitcase remains sealed.

Keep calm and alert the administration

If you’ve noticed any bedbugs around the accommodation rooms, keep calm and don’t move things around. Alert the administration immediately and they’re likely to take action.

Unpack immediately

Once you’re back home after your trip, ensure you unpack the bag. Bedbugs love to hide in clothes and other fabric so, unpack them and quickly load them into your dryer.

Set the dryer to the highest setting and let the bugs die. During the summer, if temperatures are above 80 degrees, you can also put the suitcase outside and the heat will do its job.

Tips to get rid of bedbugs in your house

Getting rid of bedbugs isn’t the easiest of tasks for homeowners. Since they reproduce in colonies and are good at hiding, it may take two or three treatments to finally eliminate them completely.

Some of the key steps you should follow when treating the bed bugs include:

Clean your beddings

As aforementioned, cleaning your clothes, towels, and beddings in hot water and high temperature is a crucial process in getting rid of these bedbugs.

Once washed, place these items in the dryer under the highest heat setting for half an hour then seal them in plastic bags. Any item that isn’t washable can be placed in the dryer and heated as well then wrapped in a plastic bag.

Clean your beddings

Isolate your beddings and furniture

If your bed and furniture are infested areas, make sure you isolate them from any other item in the house. Keep them at least four feet from the walls and curtains, and ensure there’s nothing stored beneath them.

If there are any bedbug eggs or shells on your mattress seams or joints, use bedbug-proof covers with zippers to ensure any bedbug is trapped until it dies.

Additionally, get rid of any clutter that might be lying around the beds or furniture. Anything you don’t need, seal it in a plastic bug then dispose of it in an outside trash can.

Isolate your beddings and furniture

Seal your cracks, crevices and glue wallpapers

Bedbugs also hide in cracks, holes, and crevices on your walls or floor. Therefore, if your infested rooms have such structural imperfections, make sure you repair them. A drywall patch can work quickly in fixing the cracks.

Loose wallpapers should also be glued down to reduce the number of hiding spots for bedbugs in your house.

Seal your cracks, crevices and glue wallpapers

Vacuum floors, windows, upholstery

Once you’ve cleaned and packed all your washable items in plastic bags, it’s time to vacuum the floors and wall joints. Be sure not to miss any spot and vacuum every part of the floors including the carpets, corners, sleeper sofa rugs, furniture upholstery, futons, recliners, etc.

Check your electrical sockets for signs of an infestation and unplug any appliances that might still be connected.

Vacuum floors, windows, upholstery

Hire a professional exterminator

The best way to get rid of bed bugs is by hiring an exterminator to help you with the job. Their experience and knowledge about bedbugs ensure that they can effectively get rid of them quickly.

Keep in mind: DIY solutions only work when the bedbugs are detected early and the infestation is small. Moreover, bedbugs have become repellant to some of the DIY treatments in use today, therefore, they may not kill all the bugs and your infestation will soon be back.

Hire a professional exterminator

Like it or not, you and your family members are the most likely culprits to bring bedbugs into your house.

Therefore, if you notice one of them crawling around your space, just check where you’ve traveled to or where you stayed during your vacation.

That’s probably where you got them from.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.