Bed bugs travel by hitching rides in boxes and bags all year, including winter. In fact, Thanksgiving and the holidays are a great time of year for bed bugs. They’ll hitchhike with unsuspecting travelers until they make their way all the way to your home.
Bed bugs may use the same tactics to spread all year, but they’ll use some more than others at certain times. Around winter, bed bugs may start hiding in particular places and traveling in particular ways to adapt to their prey. The best way to keep bed bugs away this season is to adapt along with them. Here are the four main ways bed bugs will try to get inside this winter:
The primary way bed bugs spread all year long (not just during winter) is by hitching rides with travelers. Bed bugs are nocturnal and naturally seek dark, hidden, and warm hiding places to rest during the day. Once they find these hiding places, the bloodsuckers nestle in and remain very still. They’ll only come out at night to seek food. Bed bugs can survive without feeding for up to 400 days, so they can afford to be patient.
Unfortunately, bed bug’s natural behaviors coincidentally make them very adept stowaways. Here’s how it works: Bed bugs sneak into traveler’s open suitcases and bags. When travelers zip up these bags to leave, they inadvertently pack up the bed bugs, too. Then, when travelers arrive at their next destination, they open up their suitcases and allow the bugs to spread. That night, the bed bugs creep out of the bag and into hiding places in their new homes.
Boxes and bags
Sneaking inside traveling suitcases and luggage is the number one way bed bugs spread, but not the only way. It’s not like bed bugs are specifically choosing to sneak into luggage because they know it will be transported. They just want to stay warm and hidden. If they can hide in bags a little closer to home, they will. Bed bugs routinely sneak into all kinds of bags and boxes, including cardboard moving boxes, grocery bags, or even purses.
It’s also important to remember that bed bugs don’t only live in and around beds. In fact, bed bugs can live anywhere they can eat, stay warm and hidden, and access some moisture. The only reason they often live in beds is that they require about 10 minutes of uninterrupted feeding to take in a sufficient amount of blood. In other words, bed bugs could sneak into pretty much any box or bag you leave unattended. They’re just looking for places to hide!
Bed bugs frequently end up hiding inside bed frames, but they can stow away inside other furniture, too. In fact, bed bugs usually take up multiple hiding places inside a bedroom, some of which are often not on the bed itself. They could hide around nightstands, wardrobes, desks, closet organizers, and pretty much any other bedroom furniture, too. Unfortunately, if you ever move this furniture, you may end up moving the bugs, too.
Bed bugs look for a couple of specific things when they hide. They need somewhere warm, hidden, tight or otherwise difficult to reach, and near food. Bed bugs have surprisingly flat bodies, which allow them to squeeze between small cracks and crevices. They’ll work their way into hidden parts of common furniture or crawl beneath cover to hide. Unfortunately, bed bugs may also lay eggs inside furniture. These eggs are very difficult to see until they hatch and perpetuate the infestation.
It’s not as common as other forms of transportation, but it is possible for bed bugs to hitch rides on clothing. In fact, this happens more frequently during the winter, simply because you’re wearing more clothing. Bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide given off by breath, skin, and sweat. Sometimes, bed bugs will follow carbon dioxide all the way back to your clothing--whether or not you’re wearing it.
Bed bugs cling to clothing because of carbon dioxide, but it can also provide a good hiding place. Clothing is warm, dark, and full of nook and crannies bed bugs can make their way into. Often bed bugs will attach to clothing while it’s in transit the same way they would sneak into a bag or box. Then, when you walk indoors, you inadvertently bring the bugs with you. They detach and find a more permanent hiding spot nearby.
The notion that bed bugs only target “dirty” homes is simply untrue. Hygiene has nothing to do with bed bugs; the simple fact of the matter is they’ll go wherever they can. The only way to prevent bed bugs is to figure out how they could get inside and make sure they can’t. Learning and watching for these bed bug winter infiltration tactics will help you prevent the bed bugs from biting.
Unfortunately, bud bugs are clever and persistent. If you take all the precautions you can and still end up with bed bugs, don’t feel ashamed. Instead, get in touch with Plunkett’s any time. We can find your bed bugs, wipe them out, and keep them from getting back in. If you’re ever worried about the bed bugs biting this winter, just get in touch. We’ll make sure you can literally rest easy.