In a survey by the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), 66% of respondents were concerned about bed bugs. Since 2010, reports of serious infestations have risen, leaving people concerned about travelling, picking up used furniture and other well-known bed bug sources. Recently, 66% of pest professionals reported that summer was their busiest season for treating bed bugs, according to a survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
As public awareness for these pests has risen, so has misinformation. In fact, a quick online search reveals many common bed bug misconceptions. So, we’ve collected several key points to debunk these myths.
Myth: Clean Spaces are Safe Places
About 37% of respondents thought bed bugs were attracted to dirty homes, according to a survey by the PPMA. Although bed bugs are commonly associated with uncleanliness, clean spaces can also become infested.
In general, bed bugs are found where people rest or sleep. Therefore, approximately 70% of most bed bug infestations can be found in and around a bed. Other common areas include:
- Picture frames
- Night stands
- Cracks in a wall
- Upholstered furniture
So, communal sleeping areas, such as hotels, become ground zero for an infestation. Unknowing travellers bring the bed bugs home on their clothing or on luggage. When visiting a hotel, use precaution.
- When booking a hotel, check the online reviews first.
- When you first arrive at a hotel, inspect along the seams of the mattress for any signs of bed bug activity; a bright flashlight will help with your inspection.
- Store your suitcase on a luggage rack rather than under the bed or on the floor.
- Hang clothes when possible and avoid using dresser drawers.
- Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully. Simply washing clothing will generally not kill bed bugs, but time in a dryer at high temperatures does kill bed bugs.
Remembering that a clean room can still house bed bugs allows you to take cautionary steps. Additionally, the EPA offers free printable cards with information on how to protect yourself from bedbugs.
Myth: If You Can’t See Them, They Aren’t There
Some people assume that bed bugs are easy to spot. In fact, the bugs are very small and difficult to see. Adult bed bugs are typically 4 to 5 millimeters long and 1.5 to 3 millimeters wide. Bed bug nymphs are around 1 millimeter long. The eggs are very tiny—roughly the size of a pinhead. So, you may notice other signs before you actually see an infestation. Common signs of bed bugs include:
- Unexplained bites
- Small brown fecal spots on bedding and mattresses
- Small blood smears on sheets
- Molted bug skins
- Bug carcasses
Myth: Bed Bugs Can Jump and Fly
Actually, these insects travel by clinging to your clothing or belongings. They cannot jump and they cannot fly. With their six tiny legs, they move quickly. So, these hitchhikers latch onto you and wait to be carried into your home.
Myth: Home Solutions Can Replace Professional Extermination
Vacuums, baking soda and diatomaceous earth are all recommended online by dubious sources. However, bed bug removal works best when a professional technician identifies the problem and treats the area. Often, the effort and impact of do-it-yourself solutions can make the problem worse as the infestation spreads over time.
- Baking soda
- Diatomaceous earth
- Steam cleaning
- Cayenne pepper, ginger and oregano
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender and peppermint spray
- Black walnut tea
Although you may be tempted to treat with a home remedy, you may find the situation requires professional treatment. Starting with an effective, professional pest solution can stop bed bugs and quickly lower the overall cost to treat the problem.
Avoiding Bed Bug Misconceptions
Avoiding bed bug misconceptions starts by validating the information source. Government websites, like the EPA, and professional pest groups, such as the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) base their advice in scientific facts and proven treatment processes. Certified pest control groups, like Dodson Pest Control, will analyze your bed bug situation, exterminate the pests, and offer helpful precautions for preventing future outbreaks.
Review more Frequently Asked Questions about Bed Bugs in our Pest Guide.