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How do Bed Bugs Spread? Are they Contagious? How Fast/Easily from Person, Room or House?

A couple of factors influence the spread of bed bugs from one place to another. Some individuals wonder of these insects are contagious. Here is an insight into how fast or easy they disperse and ways to curb it.

Are Bed Bugs Contagious? How do they spread from person to person?

Bed bugs are a big source of discomfort and embarrassment when you have them infesting your house or crawling on your clothing.

These tiny reddish or brown critters have been known to be the biggest infestations of households since centuries ago and comically have chosen where your best relaxation spots as they chill zones so as to get their blood meals.

They happen to be nocturnal based on their retreat in the light of day and tendency to wage wars in the night. During the day, they are able to hide from plain eye sight by selecting small and dark places

how bed bugs spread
Bedbug infestation

It is worthwhile mentioning that bed bugs do not predominantly prefer your body as a hiding spot and this makes them hardly transferrable from one person to another through physical contact.

However, physical contact is relative as it is limited by time factor and the duration of contact between the source and recipient.

Their distribution is therefore dependent on the availability of a vector that should be able to allow the transfer of bed bugs from one person to another.

Such ‘vectors’ may include luggage, furniture and electronic gadgets.

Thus far, for an organism to be contagious, there should be an element of life on the host in which it relies on for its livelihood.

Notice that in the case of bed bugs, they do not live on the host’s body and therefore not contagious.

Inclusive of a time element of contact between individuals, then it can be logically supposed that you contracted bed bugs from person A and hence deemed ‘contagious’.

Indirect contact is the principal means through which bed bugs are transmissible from one person to another.

So how do bed bugs spread from one person to another through an indirect means?

To answer your question, you need to understand and identify the dominant hideouts of bed bugs in your household then pick out the items that may facilitate their transmission.

In households, bed bugs are able to hide in the following areas as referenced from the University of Kentucky;

  1. Box springs,
  2. Baseboards,
  3. Dressers,
  4. Mattresses,
  5. Bedding,
  6. Luggage,
  7. Closets,
  8. Electronics,
  9. Rugs,
  10. Carpets,
  11. Tiles on floors,
  12. Curtains,
  13. Curtain boards,
  14. Behind wallpapers
  15. Picture frames,
  16. Switches on walls

From your list above, you can be able to pick out the items that are mobile enough to allow transmission from person A to you.

You have probably picked out luggage, clothing in closets, electronics, picture frames, bedding of pets, purses and books. This list will never be exhaustive however.

Circumstances that may result in mobility of such items occur during travel when you do with your infested luggage, clothing or bus seat.

The latter is normally left out among vectors of transfer and measures to mitigate such transfers are occasionally put into context.

You might not have ferried many bed bugs, but a few of them could lead to a robust establishment in your residence that you may end up battling for the next decade.

How fast do bed bugs spread from room to room?

How do they spread from room to room?

When it comes to transfer of bed bugs from one room to another either in a lodging or in your own house once someone has brought some home, they may travel along the ceiling to other rooms.

Bed bugs have been observed to even fall from the ceiling to the bed making them one of the most cunny insects in the world. Fortunately for you, they do not fly!

How fast?

The speed at which bed bugs could mount an infestation depends on a number of factors that come into play either to promote or suppress its spread.

Such factors include the availability of an optimal condition or environment for its growth and the number of bed bugs that have been brought home.

Preliminary measures to preventing them perhaps set up before could also reduce the rate at which bed bugs spread.

This means that you might have set up some traps or covered your bedding or previously eminent cracks and fixed your loosely fitted sockets and switch plates, moves that avail very limited spots in which bed bugs can hide.

Therefore, this article will look at an ideal scenario where there is a provision for optimal conditions, physiologic reproductive capacity of bed bugs among other limiting influencers.

One good thing is that bed bugs could take long before they can actually start becoming a nuisance. Consider a scenario with a single female bed bug with the ability to lay about 100 eggs at least.

This would be perhaps in the first month and hence translated into infant bed bugs with an allowance of premature death, would make about 70 bed bugs.

This number would further translate into about ¾ of them developing and growing into adults. Therefore, by the second month, you will have about 35 bed bug adults that can mate and make more bed bugs.

It is almost assured that by the end of the third month, you will be hosting a colony of over 150 adults and more than a thousand developing nymphs.

At this point, the infestation has gone way overboard and you may need the assistance of professionals to help you treat it.

It therefore occurs as imperative that adequate measures be instituted in the second month before it may get any catastrophic.

According to Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, this number, by the sixth month may have increased in magnitudes of about 8-10.

How do bed bugs spread from house to house?

Bed bugs are transmissible from one house to another. Well, this depends on how the houses are built and spaced from each other.

Consider apartments in a block; such as observed in motels and lodgings or hostels in a university.

If the house next door shares a wall with the other on both sides and is infested with bed bugs, chances are they are breeding in the houses next door too and spreading.

There have been rampant cases of failing treatment of bed bugs infestation in apartments and hostels due to such loopholes.

In this case, spraying a single room may still allow bed bugs to escape into the next houses then come back when there is a ceasefire or equal measures instigated by the neighbor and it becomes a vicious cycle.

There are various ways in which bed bugs are able to travel from one house to another including:

  1. Travel through cracks and holes in walls
  2. Through ceilings
  3. Through spaces under the door
  4. Through pipes and other connecting systems
  5. Through sharing of furniture and other ‘vector’ materials.
  6. Visitations

Therefore, house to house transfers are quite hard to monitor and at times neighbors find themselves blaming each other for their infestations ending up in a ‘chicken or egg’ scenario.

How easily & long does it take for bed bugs to spread?

How long for them to spread? What factors will determine the duration an ease. Spread of bed bugs once they have been brought to your house will depend on whether:

  1. If a female bed bug, has mated.
  2. If a female bed bug, has a male partner for them to mate
  3. There are optimal conditions including temperature relevant for its growth and development
  4. Its hide-outs are well placed for breeding and retreats.
  5. You will instigate measures to treat and impending infestation
  6. A vector material is available for its transmission.

Hence, such factors are influential in determining the rate, extent and ease of spread of bed bugs.

How to control  the Spread

It is important that you always have measures that will help you prevent spread of bed bugs.

This is regardless of whether you have them and would not want them spreading into your neighbor’s house, spread from your travel accommodation to your own house or reducing the rate of spread among rooms in your own house. You can consider the following tips:

Inspect your clothing before wearing them:

Since bed bugs can hide in between your clothing in the closet, it is necessary to ensure that the clothing you choose for the day isn’t ferrying any bed bugs.

This, you can do through physical inspection especially along the corners of sections sewn together and thoroughly doing so for dark colored clothes.

Iron the clothes thereafter paying keen interest on the corners, sleeves, collars and edges of your shirt, blouse or trousers. Shoes, socks, scarfs and caps are also possible areas in which bed bugs can hide.

If you have a dryer, you can heat your heat-stable clothing for about 30 minutes. If you do this a night before, you can insert the clothes in a plastic bag and seal it so that they are ready to wear on the following day.

Once you are dressed, leave without having to sit on the bed or furniture otherwise they might just crawl back onto you. Do so for your purse, had bag or brief-case.

Inspect your purse, wallet and bags

Do this frequently so that you are able to take out everything that you have in the bag and clean it. Cleaning could involve washing it, allowing it to dry then heating it in a dryer for a few minutes.

Flip through the pages of your books too as they could be in there. Other ways in which you can clean your bags, which happens to be less cumbersome includes vacuuming or brushing them.

Above all, once you have a clean bag devoid of bed bugs, seal them in a plastic bag.

Traveling anti-bug measures

Choice of accommodation is important to ensure that you sleep in rooms that have been frequently treated. While bed bugs have been rampant for motels and lodgings, even quite lavish hotels are beginning to indicate that bed bugs do not choose their blood meals.

Therefore, do not assume that since you are in a posh hotel, you are safe from bed bugs. Hang your bag on the hook instead of having them on the bed or on the floor.

Ensure that you inspect the corners of your bed and the mattress on which you are going to use and make a call for changes if you notice any danger signs.

Once you get home, leave the bags outside and only let them in when you have treated them if you are from an area with an infestation.

More information on Bed Bugs

Identification, Pictures, Signs & Facts

Control Measures

Getting rid and killing involves chemicals, DIY, natural remedies among other methods.

Treatment Options

Home Remedies


Bed Bug Bites


Assessing after treatment

How to know if Bed Bugs are gone after Treatment