Where do bed bugs hide? It’s a good question. If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation on your hands, the best way to know for sure whether it’s paranoia or reality is to check for tell tale signs of bed bugs.
But in order to find these clues, you’re going to have to go look for them. So where do bed bugs hide?
How to Find Bed Bugs
Bed bugs don’t easily reveal themselves. They’re tiny, freakishly flat, and very skilled at hide-and-seek. They’ll burrow into puny holes, tuck away into the teensiest cracks, and take cover in various nooks and crannies around your home.
They’re strategic, too, usually choosing to come out of hiding when you’re fast asleep.
Bed bugs find you by the carbon dioxide you exhale, feed on your exposed skin for up to 10 minutes and then immediately scurry back to the safety of their hiding places.
Pretty clever – after all, these buggers haven’t survived natural selection for thousands of years by being stupid.
But neither have we.
These bloodsuckers might be sneaky, but we’re on to them. We know their tendencies, preferences, and what hiding spots most appeal to them. And these little characteristics will help you find bed bugs – no matter how well they’re hidden – so you can start eliminating them from your home.
Bed Bug Facts to Help You Find Bed Bugs
In order to find bed bugs, there are a few things you should know about them. As Sun Tzu so famously said – the first rule of war is to know your enemy. Here are some bed bug facts that’ll help you seek and destroy these buggers!
How big are bed bugs?
Bed bug eggs are very, very small – only 1mm long – and the adult only grow up to around 7mm – approximately the size of an apple seed – when swollen from a blood meal so bed bugs can hide pretty much anywhere.
In addition to their tininess, they have freakishly flattened bodies that enable them to squeeze into spaces as tiny as the width of a credit card!
This is how bed bugs are able to live pretty much anywhere.
Do bed bugs fly?
Nope. And they can’t jump, either. They have to crawl everywhere they go.
The maximum distance bed bugs can travel is 100 feet per night but they typically do not roam further than 20 feet, which is great news for us because we can control the spread of the infestation.
Bed bugs don’t like long commutes
Since they can’t fly or jump, bed bugs have to crawl over to you each time they feed. They’re in danger whenever they expose themselves, which they usually do only when they’re hungry.
It makes sense to keep the distances short, which is why you’ll usually find bed bug infestation living within 5 feet or so from the places you spend most of your time.
For most of us, that’s our beds – thus the reason bedrooms are usually ground zero for bed bug infestations.
Preferred bed bug hiding spots
Now you know what neighborhood bed bugs like to live in – close to you – but did you know they also have specific preferences when choosing a home? We all have preferences when it comes to our living situations, after all.
So what are they looking for in an ideal place to set up shop?
Dark, sturdy, protected places that are likely to be undisturbed are their favorites, which is why they’re more likely to hang out on the underside of your boxspring than live on top of your mattress surface. Same thing with sofas – they’re unlikely to live in the seat cushions or throw pillows that are moved around all the time.
They prefer to live where we won’t bother them, or more importantly – notice them.
Some things are easier for bed bugs than others
Ever wonder why so many bed bug bites occur on the face and neck? Scientists suspect it may be because bed bugs have a difficult time biting through some types of clothing.
And it’s not just fabrics that can make life difficult for them – slippery surfaces like metal and plastic can be more difficult for bed bugs to crawl up than rough surfaces like wood.
As such, bed bugs tend to prefer natural surfaces like wood, fabric or paper over metal and plastic.
Note: “Difficult” does not mean impossible, it simply means less likely. Bed bugs have been found living in all types of materials – including those made of plastic and metal.
Bed bugs have roommates and neighbors
Other than you, that is.
Bed bugs typically live together in clusters of colonies although females often like to lay their eggs away from the pack.
So if you come across one bed bug infestation, there’s probably another one close by.
Bed bugs are great hitchhikers
Bed bugs like to stay within close proximity to their food source – i.e. you. But because they’re so tiny and flat, they can easily hitch a ride to other locations.
This is why infested beds and furniture should never be moved to another room or dragged out of the house without being sealed tight in plastic. During the move, bed bugs can unwittingly tag along for the ride or fall off and spread to more areas.
Same with pillows, blankets, clothes and stuffed animals – if you want to sleep somewhere other than a bed bug-infested bed, wash and dry these items at the highest setting before taking them (and the bed bugs in them) to your new sleeping spot.
The bed bugs’ ability to hitchhike also means that they can enter your home through a variety of ways – luggage, clothing, used furniture – and then infest the area of this house they’re placed in. If you recently came back from a trip before the bed bug infestation occurred, you’ll want to check your suitcase and the area it’s been lying around.
Early detection can save you a world of trouble
Here’s a scary bed bug fact: Bed bugs will breed with their cousins, sisters, and even their own mother – without suffering any genetic consequences.
Another? A female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs per day.
This means that if even one – just one – pregnant bed bug enters your house, you’ll have a lot of unwanted company very, very soon.
At first, they may just be in your bedroom or around the object they sneaked in on. But over time, as their population grows, they’ll scatter and spread the infestation, making it very difficult and time-consuming to get rid of them all.
Early detection is key to preventing a severe bed bug infestation – learn the signs of bed bugs so you can find them and kill them before their numbers grow. And then do everything you can to prevent bed bugs from ever entering your home again.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
You now know how bed bugs choose their homes, but where should you specifically look for these buggers?
Well, according to industry surveys and studies conducted by the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology, bed bugs have some favorite hiding spots. And knowing what bed bugs prefer in a living situation, none of the findings are surprising.
Here’s where to find bed bugs…
True to their name, bed bugs like to live in beds. Since you most likely spend around 6 to 8 hours there every night, bedrooms are prime real estate for bed bugs – city center, if you will, with lots of dining options.
In the survey, 85% of respondents reported having bed bug infestations in the bed and 52% found infestations in the bedding – so you’ll want to start here.
Baseboards and carpet edges
Nooks and crannies are a bed bug’s best hiding spots so baseboards aren’t surprising – they usually have lots of little gaps and holes in them where they meet the wall and the carpet. 37% of respondents found bed bug infestations here.
Nightstands and dressers
These are usually made of wood (check), have corners and nail holes in which to hide tiny bed bug eggs (check) and have areas that are usually undisturbed (check). 26% of respondents reported bed bug infestations in these types of furniture.
Couches and chairs
Most people tend to spend a lot of time on their couches – who hasn’t fallen asleep there while watching TV?
So not only are bed bugs in close proximity to us, but these kinds of upholstered furniture make a great place for them to live – 25% of respondents had infestations here.
Walls and ceilings
When there is a pretty severe infestation, bed bugs can spread out further from the immediate vicinity of the bed. And walls that have cracks and crevices can be a tempting place for bed bugs – 14% of respondents reported bed bugs in these spaces.
This isn’t very common, only 6% of respondents found bed bugs living in their clothes. But just because it may be statistically small, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
After all, even a single bed bug could restart an infestation.
Bed bugs in clothes, though, are fairly simple to solve. As long as clothes are regularly washed and dried at the highest setting, bed bugs in clothing isn’t a huge problem unless you have a severe infestation. If you find bed bugs in clothing – check your closet.
Alright, now that you know where to look for bed bugs – let’s get started on the search and destroy.
It’s important to know that looking for bed bugs and controlling them must go hand-in-hand. If you disturb a bed bug hiding spot but do not immediately treat it, the disturbed bed bugs can will move to another location, causing the infestation to spread.
So once you find the bed bugs, kill them. Here’s how to check for bed bugs and kill them on the spot.