Bed bugs do not have wings and cannot cross long distances on their own steam. There are a few methods by which bed bugs have passively spread—and you can prevent many of them.
- Used mattresses. Some mattress retailers who sold refurbished mattresses were not looking for bed bugs and sold unsuspecting customers infested mattresses. Just because the mattress was disinfected and sealed in plastic doesn’t mean it is free of bed bugs. Before buying a used or refurbished mattress, ask the seller questions about bed bugs and inspect the mattress yourself for evidence of bed bugs.
- Used furniture, upholstery or other bedroom items. Bed bugs are already a problem in many major cities, and they are commonly spread when people buy used furniture, or pick up discarded furniture that is left by the side of the road, including mattresses. Avoid curbside upholstered furniture because it could be infested. Inspect other used furniture carefully before bringing it into your home.
- Luggage used in travel from an infested area. In some parts of the world, bed bugs are still quite common. International and domestic travelers are susceptible to picking up bed bugs at their destinations. You can protect yourself when you travel by inspecting hotels and hostels for evidence of bed bugs.
- Through the walls of multi-unit residences. In large cities, bed bugs often travel through apartment buildings and hotels. The bugs can enter the walls through cracks or electrical outlets and then enter other rooms and apartments where they weren’t before, while the residents are completely unaware. Older buildings or those undergoing renovations that have more cracks in the walls, floors and doors are more susceptible to this kind of spread. A good landlord will notify the entire facility of a bed bug infestation because it will be in his or her own interest to eradicate the problem sooner rather than later, reducing the number and cost of exterminations. But you cannot always count on landlords and hotel owners to be forthcoming with information about bed bugs, so it’s good to be in touch with neighbors or others who have stayed in that hotel for reliable information.
Only in extreme cases will bed bugs be transported on the clothing someone is wearing.
More in this section:
- What do bed bugs look like?
- What do bed bugs eat?
- Where do bed bugs hide?
- How do bed bugs travel?
- Why are bed bugs a problem?