Home Bed Bugs Can Bed Bugs Fly-Do they have Wings-How Far can they Travel

Can Bed Bugs Fly-Do they have Wings-How Far can they Travel

You could ask yourself endless questions as to why bed bugs are able to colonize very many areas. In the course of your thinking, you might be dragged into thinking that bed bugs can really fly. This article will address this and clear your doubts, giving insight into how bed bugs travel and how far they can move.

Do Bed Bugs Have Wings to Fly

Bed bugs do not have wings. In fact, some resources claim they have clear wings but that is not true. Due to that, they are therefore not able to fly and cause trouble and discomfort.

There is some literature that contradicts this. According to The Bug Squad, there is an appearance of some features that look like wings[1]. These are in most cases confused to be flight wings. These ‘wings’ are however very weak and cannot support flight.

Bed bug wing pads
Wing pads

In fact, a mature bed bug has wing pads that cannot be used for flight. These pads appear above the abdomen and below the head. They are however very small and can go unnoticed. It might, in other occasions, take the efforts of a microscope to discover the pads.

The nymphs of the bed bugs on the contrary do not even have the wing pads.

How do they Move? Can they Jump?

Since bed bugs do not have wings, flying is not a means of locomotion for them. Unlike other wingless insects like the fleas which can jump from one place to another, bed bugs do not. They mostly relocate from place to another by crawling.

Amazingly, bed bugs are very lazy and could lead a sedentary life provided they get everything that they need in a particular environment. If the environment provides them with blood meal, they will spend most of their lifetime at the same spot.

Since their legs are not created to hop and jump over long distances, they use them to crawl from one host to another.

Interestingly, human beings can also help the bed bugs relocate from one point to another. Once they bite you, they stick to your clothes or skin and you hence carry them to other areas.

Another way in which the bed bugs can move could be through the reproduction process. When a female bed bug is dropped in an area, it lays eggs and this could lead to the reproduction of about 600 more bed bugs. This introduces another colony in a new environment.

How Far Bed Bugs Travel

According to Scientific American, any location is vulnerable to bed bug infestation. This implies that bed bugs can travel and live anywhere.

They can live in areas ranging from ritzy high-rises to homeless shelters. This is to indicate that the prevalence of bed bugs in areas of those living with low income could be because of the dense population.

How far can bed bugs travel

The moment you understand the movement and dispersal of bed bugs, you will be able to put them under control. This therefore helps you to prevent their unwarranted populations.

As mentioned earlier, they are lazy creatures if whatever they want (hideout and meal) is within their reach. This therefore means that they are not likely to move far now that they’ve already become established in a home.

However, if they have not become established they can move quite long distances. According to the discover magazine, an experiment carried out to determine how far bed bugs can move found out they can travel quite far.

The experiment was done through capture and recapture method. The bed bugs were collected, marked and then released into several apartments.

The marked and unmarked bed bugs were monitored for 32 days in 24 households. The bed bugs moved between the apartments regardless of the number of the bugs that were released.

The marked bed bugs were recovered in the apartments in the five neighborhoods of the marked apartments.

It was seen that the dispersal rates for 14 or 15 days were 0 to 5%. It was also discovered that the number of bed bugs in the six apartments was between 2,433 and 14,291.

Based on the data above, it is clear that bed bugs are capable of moving from one place to another within a very short time. How far they can move is not limited.

Any distance a human being can travel a bed will as well. But, as you will learn shortly, in most cases they will need a host to travel this far.

They are not the fastest moving insects but can really travel from an area to another pretty fast. Their relative steady reproduction is also responsible for their expansive spread.

What enables their travel/movement?

There are both physical features and factors that facilitate the movement of bed bugs. For instance, pesticide disturbance, intersexual conflicts, host stimuli as well as other forces that could trigger their movement. This is according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).[2]

Alternatively, the passive movement of the bed bugs can also be motivated by the accidental host transport. There is limited information that examines the bed bug movement ecology. This information would be important to understand the distribution of the pest.

The legs of the bed bugs are also key in the dispersal from one place to another. They use the legs to crawl from a place to another. Using the legs to crawl is however limited because they risk interruptions and then being killed.

The Ohio State University, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences tried to study how the flightless animals like bed bugs could move long distances.

The finding shows that the bugs are attracted to odor of human beings when they are sleeping. Dirty and soiled clothes also attract bed bugs more than clean clothes.[3]

Human activities like traveling are linked to the dispersal of bed bugs. When you move a luggage that is infested with bed bugs, then you will transfer them to non-infested areas.

When international travelers move from areas with bed bug infestation to areas with no bed bugs, they increase their spread.

Bed bugs do not move far for the purpose of food but rather do so to increase their spheres of colony. When the female bugs lay eggs and once they hatch, the young ones move away to establish new residences.

The moment bed bugs move and congest into an area, you will smell a sweetish odor that is as a result of some secretions from glands.[4]

Further Reading


[1] http://www.thebugsquad.com/bed-bugs/do-bed-bugs-fly/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553421/

[3] https://u.osu.edu/bedbugs/research/bed-bug-dispersal/

[4] https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/bedbug.html


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here