Where do Bed Bugs Come From?

How do you get bed bugs?

It’s a myth that dirty conditions cause bed bugs. While dirty conditions can make it harder to both identify bed bug infestations and to eradicate bed bugs, the conditions are not the cause.

The bed bug resurgence is attributed to a combination of the following:

  • The outlawing of DDT in 1972.
  • Bed bugs becoming more resistant to modern chemical treatments.
  • Higher numbers of people traveling internationally.

I would also add to this list: an overall lack of bed bug awareness. If bed bugs aren’t even on your radar as a potential threat, you’re not going to do anything for bed bug protection.

There are 3 principle ways bed bugs can come to infest a dwelling.

1. Bed bugs already existed there but weren’t previously detected or, if detected, were not eradicated completely.

Depending on how big a bed bug infestation is, a previous owner or tenant may never have detected bed bugs.
If the person never detected them and then moved out, you could be moving right into a horror story.

Bed bugs can survive for over 1 year without feeding. So if they were exterminated but the treatment wasn’t thoroughly sufficient (and many do-it-yourself treatments are not), bed bugs will come back.

2. Bed bugs came in through adjacent units in a multi-unit dwelling (condos, apartments, dorms, hotels, hostels).

The current bed bug resurgence is especially a problem in multi-unit dwellings. If you live in a multi-unit dwelling, you could do everything right to protect yourself and still end up with bed bugs. If you’re renting your home or an apartment, in most places the property management has a legal obligation to hire a professional bed bugs exterminator to handle infestations. Always report bed bugs to property managers.

3. Bed bugs hitched a ride from the outside on people or objects brought into the dwelling.

Traveling can be a great way to pick up unwanted blood-sucking guests. Bed bugs can easily slip into your luggage or hitch a ride on your clothing and footwear.

Bed bugs also travel in bed frames, mattresses, box springs, furniture, and other items. Infested second-hand goods are a serious threat. Bed bugs have even been known to hitch rides on television remote controls. The closer to the bed an item is on a regular basis, the more susceptible it is to being infested and thus being a suitable vehicle to spread bed bugs.