Where bed bugs hide in the home — Katie’s student essay

Where Bed Bugs Hide In The Home?

When was the last time you had your home inspected for bed bugs? If you have woken up with mysterious bites, or notice some discoloration on your mattress, it might be bed bugs!

Contrary to their names, bed bugs can reside just about anywhere in your home, not just your mattress. While they tend to stay close to sleeping areas to feed, they can establish in many areas of a home, or hotel room. Tight, dark places like between couch cushions is an excellent area that can conceal them. Other areas such as clothing, rugs and carpets, car seats, wall outlets and anywhere in between, these tiny invaders can cause chaos in your home.

There is a common misconception that bed bugs are only found in dirty, unkempt homes. While it is true that messy, cluttered spaces serve as cozy and favorable hideouts, it is just as possible to have bed bugs in the average, clean and well organized homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their tiny bodies allow them to fit practically anywhere and stay for a very long time, up to a year, even without a blood meal. (CDC, 2016)

Bed bugs are commonly picked up while traveling; often coming from hotel rooms or even a friends or relatives infested home. They hitch rides in the creases of luggage, clothes, furniture, and anywhere that provides warmth and protection. Most people do not even notice the extra passengers, but serve as a bed bug taxi, transporting them from place to place. 

If reading this has given you the creepy crawlies, rest assured, there are some simple tricks to inspect your home for peace of mind. The Environmental Protection Agency gives a few pointers on how to spot potential infestations. While conducting your next routine cleaning, look for these signs:

Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.

Dark spots, which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.

Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.

Live bed bugs. They are very small, but show up best against light colored fabrics.  (EPA, 2018)

Additionally, according to the Center for Invasive Species Research, The use of a bright flashlight will help to spot these tiny bugs. This is because their strong aversion to light makes them scurry for cover, increasing your chances at seeing them. (Weirauch and Gerry, 2020)

However, if you are still not satisfied, there are other options! Some agencies utilize scent detection dogs to provide a very unique and accurate way to sniff out the pests; literally! These dogs can prove especially valuable when infestation is minor, because they can quickly and precisely show where in a room bed bugs are, or are not.

The next time you travel, be sure you thoroughly wash clothing and sanitize all items brought along to the best of your ability to avoid any unwanted house guests making your home, theirs as well. Be sure to keep your local pest control expert’s number close by, and schedule regular inspections to keep your home and family pest free and happy!

Author: Katie Wells

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Works Cited:

CDC. “CDC – Bed Bugs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 May 2016, www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/.

EPA. “How to Find Bed Bugs.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 31 Oct. 2018, www.epa.gov/bedbugs/how-find-bed-bugs.

Weirauch, Christiane, and Alec C. Gerry. “Bed Bugs.” Center for Invasive Species Research, 19 Jan. 2020, cisr.ucr.edu/invasive-species/bed-bugs.

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