The Truth About Bed Bugs – Your Questions Answered

Bed bugs are the vampires of the insect world and enjoy a good feast off human, mammal, and bird blood. But these mini vampires don’t just come out at night…if they are hungry they will hunt you down.

Once a pest of the past, today I get more inquiries about these troublesome household guests than any other. Considered to be a public health pest by the EPA, bed bugs are now making themselves at home in every state in the USA. Sneaky and stubborn, once they find their way in, they don’t take lightly being asked to leave.

There are many misconceptions surrounding these common pests but understanding how they move around could help when banishing bed bugs for good.

Can bed bugs can fly?

Contrary to common belief, bed bugs (although they do have wings), are unable to fly. Thanks to evolution, their little wings have lost their flutter and at best all they can do is wiggle.

Can bed bugs can jump?

Unlike other small pests such as fleas, bed bugs are not built for jumping. Their bodies are plump and close to the ground, and this makes it almost impossible for them to propel themselves upwards.

Parasite infested dirty linen in bedroom
Image credit: AndreyPopov, Deposit Photos

Instead of jumping or flying, these creepy little critters are equipped with six legs and small hooks on their feet. This allows them to move around by crawling or climbing. Able to make short work of textured surfaces they can climb to great heights by attaching themselves to rough cracks and crevices – including wood and material. However, when faced with a smooth surface such as glass, they slip right off.

Bed bugs hate environments that require a lot of effort and movement on their behalf. Thick hair, fluffy rugs, and deep carpets make it almost impossible for bed bugs to move their tiny legs through.

Can bed bugs burrow into the skin?

There are plenty of things that get under my skin, but luckily bed bugs will never be one of them. Whilst they enjoy being on the surface of our bodies; sucking and biting to relieve the blood; they cannot burrow into our skin.  If you are feeling something digging below the skin then it is likely to be a flea, tick, or even scabies.

Can bed bugs spread disease?

Unlike many pests such as rodents and ticks, bed bugs are not thought to transmit any diseases to humans upon contact.  Whilst it can be distressing to find yourself sharing a bed with a bug, the most physical damage they can do is to cause skin irritations due to their incessant biting. Sleep deprivation and itching are common annoyances and just another reason in a list of many why they should be evacuated as soon as possible.

Do bed bugs only come out at night?

When you think of a bed bug you automatically picture them silently waiting in the shadows at night, under your bed keeping out of sight. Well, I hate to disappoint (again!), but bed bugs will feed when they are hungry. These blood-thirsty insects have a piercing bite and if you happen to be around when their thirst needs quenching then they are not opposed to indulging in some daylight drinking.

Bite mark, sting or sore on human skin
Credit: vladvitek, Deposit Photos

Do bed bugs live in mattresses?

Although, as their name suggests, bed bugs enjoy nothing more than a good snuggle with us in our mattresses and headboards, they do like a vacation too. As we are their meal ticket of choice, they often join us on our day-to-day journeys and can be transported in our personal belongings such as our handbags and baggage.

The recent epidemic of bed bugs in America is often blamed on our love of travel. It is far easier to catch a plane and take an uber than ever before – you may just find you take an unknown hitchhiker with you.

Another way that bed bugs can pass from person to person is via clothes, suitcases, and sheets. In hotels and rented property where beds and linen have a high turnover of occupancy, there is plenty of opportunity for cross-contamination. These bugs can easily make their way from our baggage to our beds by crawling up the frames, legs, and nearby furniture. They will even scale up the bedding in order to get access to human blood.

Basically, a bug, like all pests, will choose its home close to its food supply. So where you go, they go – even if it means crawling through walls.

Are bed bugs are slow travelers?

Bed bugs, at first glance, may not appear to be the fastest of travelers, however, if you were to put them into human proportions, their speed would be the equivalent to us sprinting.

These exasperating insects can in fact use their legs to crawl four feet per minute! This gives them plenty of time to bolt out of eyesight leading you to believe that they don’t even exist.

Are bed bugs are easy to get rid of?

As a pest control expert, I have tackled the toughest of pests. From large rodent infestations to squirrels sheltering in roofs and cockroaches scuttling around commercial kitchens, but my biggest nemeses by far have to be the humble bed bug.

These persistent pests can multiply quickly and are difficult to spot. In order to eliminate them from your house, you have to make sure you eradicate each and every one. Failure to do so just results in a re-infestation. Take away their host, and they can happily survive for months without feeding.

bed bug
Credit: jareynolds, Deposit Photos

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So how do you get rid of bed bugs?

There are many things you can try, and I would suggest multiple methods in order to achieve success.

In the first instance, you should move your bed well away from the wall and other furniture, whilst ensuring that there are no overhanging sheets. This is because you want to make it as difficult as possible for the bed bugs to reach you. You can also place inceptors on the legs of the bed. These are shiny plastic cups that the bugs fall into but are unable to climb out of.

You could purchase a bed bug mattress cover, but I would recommend washing all of your bedding at a high temperature with disinfectant regardless.

Finally, I know that there have been recent reports that bed bugs are becoming resistant to insecticides, but I still believe it is the best treatment. I tend to use heat and steaming methods to attack the eggs and a powerful pesticide to ensure residual bed bugs are gone for good. Fumigation and heat treatments may be pricey, but you are much more likely to see results.

Recommended reading: How to get rid of bed bugs with a vacuum


Bed bugs can be incredibly difficult to get rid of and costly to control. Although most people believe they can fly and leap around, they can only crawl and rely on us to carry them from place to place.

I dread getting the call to say that someone has bed bugs as they are incredibly resilient – which is probably why we are currently facing an epidemic, when once they were almost extinct.

If you do find a bed bug, chances are there are more lurking. Therefore, I would suggest acting fast to stop them from spreading into other rooms and using heat, steam, and powerful pesticides as my sure-fire methods of execution.

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