If you’ve traveled and think you brought home more than luggage or you’re waking up with bites, then you might have bed bugs. It’s not always easy to find bed bugs because they hide so well and stay out of sight, so where should you look for them?
Bed bugs are usually hidden in a bed or a couch. Over time, they spread and hide wherever it’s cool and dark, and where they won’t be bothered. This might be in soft toys or shoes, or even in walls, floors, and ceilings.
Bed bugs tend to follow a fairly predictable pattern for spreading through a house. If you understand where they like to hide and why, you’ll know exactly where to look for them and how to stop them from infesting your home.
By the end of this article you’ll know:
- Where to look for bed bugs in a house
- How to get rid of bed bugs (and what you should never do)
Where bed bugs hide in a house
Bed bugs hide in many different places in a house, depending on how many bed bugs there are. A few bed bugs that have just arrived choose one spot where they hide together.
Click here to find out how you get bed bugs in the first place.
As time goes by, and the bed bugs have a chance to breed and multiply, they spread out and take over more hiding places in the room, and then the house, and then the neighbor’s place.
Here’s where bed bug hides in a house as their numbers grow:
Bed bugs start by hiding in a bed
Bed bugs that come into a house have a strong instinct to crawl to a hiding place where they will be safe. The bugs look for a dark, warm, humid place to hide, where it won’t be easy to find them.
When bed bugs enter a house, they usually choose to hide in a bed or a couch. Given a choice, most bed bugs choose to hide in a bed, which is why they’re called “bed bugs”.
Here’s how bed bugs spread in a bed:
- Bed bugs start hiding in, behind, or under a bed’s base or headboard. They are most commonly found by the head of the bed because this is the darker side along the wall, where the headboard sits.
- As their numbers increase, bed bugs move to the mattress, where they hide along seams, in corners, and under labels.
- Bed bugs continue to breed there and start moving to the bedding and pillows. They hide under the bedding and pillows, in the corners (especially in dark spots by the headboard), under labels, and along seams where the material is sewn.
Do you have a box spring bed?
If there are bed bugs in the bedroom, they’re most likely hiding in the box spring. If you have a box spring, look for bed bugs:
- Along the seams of the box spring, especially in the corners and at the head of the bed, where the headboard sits
- Underneath the box spring
- Inside the box spring’s cover, if there are any tears or holes in the material
If you find bed bugs in your box spring, it’s important not to move the box spring. If you do, you’ll spread the bugs very quickly.
Cover the box spring in an encasement until the bed bugs starve to death and can no longer multiply. This could take 6 months or more than 1 year, but it will stop the bed bugs from spreading and save your box spring.
Click on the picture below to be taken to one of the most popular box spring encasements on Amazon:
If you have bed bugs in your bed, you’re probably wondering where you’re supposed to sleep. Click here to find out where to sleep and how to keep bed bugs off you.
Bed bugs move into items near the bed
Over time, bed bugs multiply.
Female bed bugs lay up to three eggs a day, which hatch after a week. Within a month of hatching, the young females start laying up to three eggs a day too. These eggs hatch and those that are female start laying their own eggs.
Click here for a list of all the signs that tell you bed bugs are hiding in the house, with pictures and video.
Things soon get crowded and there are far too many bed bugs to live in the bed – they need to start spreading out. So they do what bed bugs do: look for dark, warm places to hide that are safe and close by.
You’ll start finding bed bugs behind, in, or under furniture (such as bedside tables and dressers), clothing, shoes, soft toys, clutter, and any other items that are within 8 feet (2.5 m) of the infested bed. This is close enough for the bed bugs to come out around 4 a.m. in the morning and feed on people.
The bed bugs continue to multiply and soon need to spread out even further.
Bed bugs crawl up to 100 feet a night
When there are too many bed bugs in the bed and in items near the bed, healthy bed bugs crawl up to 100 feet (30 m) per night to find a new place to hide. The infestation is quite serious at this stage.
Now the bed bugs won’t be so picky about where they hide, but ideally they want people who sleep or spend time sitting within 8 feet of their new hiding place.
If the bed bugs find a dark, quiet place within those 100 feet, they’ll hide there. And they don’t just travel across the room, they travel up and down too.
It’s time to start looking for bed bugs hiding:
- In cracks in the walls
- Under pictures or clocks on the walls
- Under light switch covers
- In window treatments
- Between peeling paint
- In woodwork joints
- In the heads of screws
- Under wallpaper
- Between floor boards
- Along carpet edges
- Behind baseboards (skirting boards)
- Around ceiling fans
- Under light fixtures
Here’s a list of ways to get bed bugs to come out of hiding, so you can identify them, find out where they are hiding, and take steps to kill them.
Bed bugs infest other rooms in the house
If left untreated and free to breed, the bed bugs continue to multiply. All these bed bugs need somewhere to go, so they crawl between the walls, inside pipes, from window to window, or across hallways to other rooms in the house, or even other units in a building.
These movements are usually done at night, when bed bugs are most active.
Once the bed bugs find a good place to hide where they won’t be disturbed, they settle in and start breeding there, only to spread again when it gets overcrowded.
And so the infestation continues to get worse as the bed bugs spread between rooms and even between neighbors.
How to get rid of bed bugs in a house
There’s no single solution that’s guaranteed to get rid of bed bugs. If you suspect or know you have bed bugs in the house, it’s best to use several methods to detect and kill them.
Below are some of the best methods and products from Amazon to kill bed bugs in your home:
- If you think you might have bed bugs, put these bed bug traps under the feet of your bed, your couch, or anything you think bed bugs are crawling on. Leave it there for at least a week to give the bugs time to come out of hiding for a blood meal. If there are bed bugs present, there’s a good chance you’ll find some in the traps one morning.
- Studies have found that cimexa powder is even more effective at killing bed bugs than diatomaceous earth, which many people still use. A light dusting around base boards, cracks in floorboards, and bed and furniture legs will kill bed bugs that come out from these hiding places. Whatever you choose to use, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and don’t inhale the dust.
- Don’t take an infested mattress outside. Moving the mattress could spread bed bugs throughout the apartment or house, making the infestation much worse. To save a mattress, wrap it in an encasement and wait for the bugs to die. If you want to get rid of the mattress, wrap it tightly in plastic, mark it as “infested”, and go to this blog post to find out how to get rid of it safely.
- Foggers are NOT good for killing bed bugs. If you have bed bugs, even if it’s just a few, speak to the property manager or call in a pest professional to treat the property. They will probably use a combination of treatments, such as a bed bug spray, vacuuming, and/or a heat treatment to kill the bugs.
- If you think all the bed bugs are gone, put these sticky traps near the furniture where bed bugs were active. Leave the traps there to see if any bed bugs get stuck. If you don’t find any bed bugs and you don’t get bitten for 6 weeks in a row, you know that the area is most likely free from bed bugs.