As a professional with years of experience remediating bed bugs, I’ve seen and heard just about everything when it comes to these annoying little pests. This includes a number of myths and half-truths that cause unnecessary concern. To debunk some of those myths for property managers, here are my top 10 bed bug myths and the reality behind these statements.
Bed Bugs Can Jump
Bed Bugs cannot fly or jump. They can only crawl, which could lead to crawling up walls and falling into or onto things they would not otherwise be able to access.
Bed Bugs Can Crawl from One Apartment to Another through Bath Tub Drain Pipes
Bed bugs cannot climb on slick surfaces like glass, porcelain, or slick plastics like PVC or ABS. They have been found in bathtubs but only as a result of falling off a wall or ceiling or someone throwing an infested item into the tub. However, bed bugs can use the pipe chases, electrical runs, and floor joists to travel from one apartment or room to the next. They can also easily crawl under walls and doors.
If I Have Bites, I Must Have Bed Bugs
Many insects produce a similar reaction to a bite (ants, spiders, etc.). The only proof of a bed bug infestation is to identify the bug and/or its eggs. Other signs of an infestation are blood spotting on linens and bedding and fecal staining on walls and furnishings.
Bed Bugs Only Infest Dirty or Low Income Homes
Not even remotely true. Bed Bugs can literally be found anywhere at any time regardless of class or cleanliness. However, they do tend to thrive anywhere that provides plenty of hiding places and they like clutter.
Bed Bugs are Too Small to See with the Naked Eye
While it is true that bed bug eggs and nymphs are extremely small and hard to see, the full grown adult can reach up to a quarter inch, about the size of an apple seed, and is dark reddish/brown. The reason why most people don’t see them is that they rarely come out in the daylight and spend 90 percent of their time in hiding.
Bed Bugs Are Only Found in Beds
If only it were that easy! Alas, you simply can’t get rid of your bed to solve a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs can be found anywhere in the home, including in or under flooring, behind baseboards, in wall cavities, electronics, books, phones, clothes, as well as in any other furnishings. They can usually be found within 5-10 feet of the food source…YOU.
Bed Bugs Only Bite Women
In reality, women are more likely to react to a bite than men. In fact 70% of men don’t react to a bite. Since you can’t initially feel a bed bug bite due to anesthetic in saliva, some men may feel like they are not being bitten when actually they are.
I Can Get Rid of Bed Bugs Myself
A lot of “over the counter” items and home remedies will kill bed bugs (sprays, alcohol, kerosene, dusts, etc.). I’ve personally killed them with a soapy water spray. The problem (even for pest control companies) is finding them, especially their eggs. If you don’t get them all at once, you can’t hope to win the battle. Very few over the counter products leave any sort of residual to kill hatching eggs or hiding bugs. The best approach for property managers is to hire a pest management professional that specializes in bed bugs and follows an integrated pest management approach.
I Don’t Travel So I’m Not Likely to Get Bed Bugs
Traveling is a common way of picking up bed bugs but far from the only way. Bed bugs have perfected the art of hitchhiking. You can pick them up from public transit, public venues like movie theatres, friends and family, second-hand stores, gyms, clubrooms, neighbors, and the list goes on and on.
Bed Bugs Transmit Diseases
There is currently no evidence of a bed bug transmitting any disease.
I hope I managed to debunk a few misconceptions you may have had about bed bugs. What else have you heard about bed bugs? Share them in the comments below and I’ll “fact check” them. The last thing you need to believe is an outlandish claim like bed bugs can fly.