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What Causes Bed Bugs: Top 6 Reasons Revealed (Updated)

Last Updated on April 21, 2024 by Alene Schill

The phrase “don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a familiar one, often thought to be a charming way of wishing someone a good night’s rest. But in reality, you could indeed wake up confronted with genuine bed bug bites.

Dealing with bed bugs is a nuisance, but what causes bed bugs in the first place? Read here to find out. 

Top 6 Causes of Bed Bugs

Top 6 Causes of Bed Bugs

1. Traveling

One of the first causes of bed bugs is traveling. We hate to break it to you, but you can bring home bed bugs when you travel. 

They do not have wings to fly, but they can crawl, and since bed bugs are not picky, they can travel by hiding in your luggage, backpacks, car seats, wheelchairs, toys, or sleeping bags. 

The prime spots where you can pick up bed bugs are the beds or furniture where you place your things when traveling, whether on domestic, cruise ships, or international trips. Learn how to move without taking bed bugs with you

2. Used Furniture

Used Furniture

Most people love to buy used furniture but do you know that bed bug infestations commonly start there?  

Bed bugs hide on furniture, and sometimes, people unintentionally sell their used furniture without checking for signs of bed bugs. It’s truly tempting to buy things at low prices so you’ll grab the chance; sadly, it comes with a package-bed bug infestation. 

Before buying second-hand upholstered furniture, check for any sign of bed bugs by using a flashlight on edges, seams, and cracks. Also, check for tiny bloodstains, and bed bug excrement as part of disease control. 

3. Home Rentals

Bed bug infestation in home rentals and apartment complexes is never unusual. Bed bugs are fond of home rentals because they can go from one unit to another- hitchhiking from people and things. 

You can pick up bed bugs during moving, especially if the apartment complexes are already infested with bed bugs. In addition, once a single apartment picks up used or recycled furniture with bed bugs, expect that the whole apartment complex can experience bed bug infestation. 

4. Hotels & Motels

Hotels & Motels

Here’s the reality: when you are on vacation, you rarely think that a hotel or motel has bed bugs because you are excited to lay on those soft and comfortable mattresses. But what if we tell you that bed bugs can also infest hotels and motels? 

Guests come and go, so there’s a big possibility that they can be a carrier of bed bugs. Hotels and motels do not clean their rooms thoroughly, especially with many guests. 

With this, never leave your things on the floor of hotels and motels because bed bugs can travel easily between floors and rooms.

Before settling down, check mattresses, cabinets, and the electric outlet for any signs of bed bug infestation. Find out how hotels deal with bed bugs here

5. School Infestation

Bed bugs can transfer easily from clothing and other things, so you might bring them home when you come home from school. Bed bugs love living on furniture like shelves, upholstered surfaces, and even electrical outlets. Since your kids spend several hours sitting, they can be their blood meal – and go home with them, too! 

Some schools don’t deep clean and vacuum regularly, so when we place our belongings on tables and floors, bed bugs can crawl on them. More on bed bugs at school here

6. Workplace Infestation

Workplace Infestation

Bed bugs live in any public area with a human host, and another common place is the workplace. 

If your workplace has an existing infestation, imagine how many bed bugs live there and how high the chance you will take home one with you. If your workplace has bed bugs, it would be best to contact pest control experts and have the infestation dealt with promptly. 

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Where Did Bed Bugs Come From? 

There are two species of bed bugs, and they are known by their scientific names Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. Both bed bugs are known to feed on human blood and they were found in tombs of Ancient Egyptians aged 3,500 years [1]. 

Bed bugs are nest parasites and inhabit roosts of bats and nests of birds, and over the years, some learned to adapt to our environment. In 1950, bed bugs were almost wiped out by pesticides by DDT, but in 1972, it was banned due to environmental effects [2]. 

Where Do Bed Bugs Usually Live? 

Where Do Bed Bugs Usually Live? 

Bed bugs usually live in places where people frequently sleep because they survive longer when near a food source. They love to live on bedding, mattress and box spring, upholstered furniture, and other folds and crevices. 

Bed bugs do not live on people, but they can use humans to travel and infect other parts of your home. They are nocturnal, so they feed when the hosts are mostly sleeping, and since couches, sofas, and beds are the most place where people rest, they find it convenient to live there. Here’s how to eliminate bed bugs from the couch

Bed Bug Fact: Bed bugs can bite you many times at night; it is not painful, but you can experience allergic reactions. 

What Are The Common Signs? 

  • If you wake up with itchy bites and little redness on your skin, it can be from a bed bug. 
  • If you find small blood stains on your beds, mattress, and sheets, there’s a big chance that it’s a bed bug being crushed.
  • If you find small reddish-brown or dark spots in your bedding, mattress, pillowcases, wall, or furniture, it can be bed bug poop; to check, try a smear test. 
  • You can see live bed bugs (reddish-brown) crawling, and it’s about the size of an apple seed. 
  • You see tiny eggs and eggshells slightly bigger than an apple seed.
  • You smell a foul and musty odor from bed bugs.

How Are Bed Bugs Transferred? 

How Are Bed Bugs Transferred? 

Bed bugs are as small as an apple seed, and you may wonder how they can infest a whole room. Bed bugs can crawl so they can transfer from place to place, causing nasty infestations. 

They can crawl their way to your skin, clothing, and luggage, and when you move from one place to another, they can get transferred, spread, and hide.  

Bed bugs don’t have wings, so they cannot fly, but it is easy to go places since they have legs. In addition, a bed bug can cause heavy infestation because they lay eggs every day, which can be unnoticed.


Do bed bugs live on people?

No, bed bugs do not live on people. They see humans as hosts, attracted to them, but they don’t live there. After feeding, they go back to their hiding places to rest, mate and lay eggs. 

In addition, they hide in places where they cannot be seen easily, and they don’t wander, unlike other pests. They mostly live on mattresses, box springs, bed frames, wall cracks, and other bedroom appliances.

Do bed bugs prefer cities or rural areas?

Bed bugs do not prefer a particular location to live and multiply because they make a home anywhere there are humans or animals. However, since most people move to cities, most bugs can be found there. 

In addition, a city is a busy place, so people don’t have too much time to clean up or even notice an infestation unless itchy bites are bothering them. Remember that humans are their hosts, and the closer they live with them, the easier for them to multiply and spread to other places. 

Does a dirty house cause bed bugs?

A dirty house does not cause bed bugs, but that does not mean that your dirty home can be bug-free. Bugs do not care if your home is clean or dirty because they only need a warm host, exposed skin, and plenty of hiding spots. 

However, cleanliness has been a great factor in bed bug infestations because their population does not decrease. If you vacuum regularly, wash clothes with hot water, launder bedding in high heat, and seal cracks, bed bugs may eventually die. 

What are bed bugs attracted to?

Bed bugs are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide, indicating life and blood flow. When people are sleeping at night, the carbon dioxide we release surrounds our heads, and then the bugs will start to poke our skin because our blood is their food. Here’s how you can prevent bed bug bites while sleeping.   

Are bed bugs hard to get rid of?

Yes, bed bugs are hard to get rid of but possible. Removing bugs takes time and effort, especially a massive infestation. 

You can try home remedies and chemicals for minor bed bug problems, but if you have a large infestation, it would be better to contact a professional pest control company to get rid of them. Bug infestation can compromise health conditions, so deal with it promptly.  

Making Bed Bugs Come Out 

A bed bug is a small creature that can cause big trouble at home. Be vigilant now that we know what causes bed bugs and how they can easily transfer from one place to another. 

They don’t just come in because your place is dirty, but it stays and infests, so clear up any clutter and be more observant. There are many home remedies for bed bugs, but contact a pest control company to get rid of them if it is too much to handle. 



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