If One Room Has Bed Bugs, Do They All?
Author: Jen Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
If one room has bed bugs, do they all? This is a serious question you must answer quickly to eradicate a bed bug infestation as swiftly and effectively as possible. Another issue is finding where the bed bugs are in your house.
One of the things every homeowner, renter, or landlord fears is a bed bug infestation on their property. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of once they’ve embedded (pardon the pun) themselves into mattresses, bed frames, sofas, linens, and even baseboards.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs can be hard to spot, especially if you’ve never seen one before. Adult bed bugs are about the size of half a fingernail, and they are roughly the same shape and color as apple seeds.
Even if you don’t spot adult bed bugs, you may come across other signs of their presence, such as droppings, which look like tiny black dots on your sheets, or even small blood spots. These spots are from blood feedings or the mattress crushing the bed bugs.
You may also see the shed skins of bed bug nymphs, the teenage stage of bed bugs. The skins are yellowish and translucent. You could also come across bed bug eggs, which are yellowish-orange and only about a millimeter wide.
One more sign of bed bugs is if you or members of your family have red, itchy bites in lines or grouped on your bodies. However, these bites can take up to two weeks to even show up, so by the time you notice any bites, the bed bug infestation could have already reached a critical point. Bed bug bites also resemble mosquito or flea bites, so this isn’t the best indicator to use.
How Do Bed Bugs Spread?
Firstly, bed bugs need entry into your home. They can come in hitching rides on and within objects like towels, clothing, and luggage. It only takes a breeding pair a week or two to cause mayhem in whichever room they end up in. The bed bugs may stay in one room for a time, but eventually, they can spread to other rooms in the house.
Bed bugs usually make their homes in your mattress. They are inactive during daylight hours. They prefer to feed on your blood during the nighttime, since this time is not only when they are active, but also when you are inactive and in a close and vulnerable position.
Bed bugs can spread over a matter of weeks. A female bed bug can lay one to seven eggs each day and the offspring mature into adult bed bugs after about a week.
However, bed bugs cannot fly or jump, and they can barely walk. So how do they spread to other rooms once they begin multiplying? And do bed bugs infest the whole house?
Bed bugs spread to other rooms by hitching a ride on an object, your clothing, or even your pet’s fur. They will then drop off into another room and make themselves at home in a new group, usually on mattresses. However, bed bugs have been known to infest old upholstered furniture and even old books.
These enterprising insects can survive for up to a year and a halfwithout a blood meal, lying dormant if necessary. This could potentially mean that a bed bug cluster that began somewhere in your home a year ago has just started to multiply after being presented with a steady food source.
Bed bugs are tiny and flat. They use people, pets, and objects to travel, so it is hard to catch them in motion. They will slowly and steadily travel along baseboards or even electrical wiring in search of a food source. Because they can survive so long without feeding, they are patient and determined, as far as bloodsucking insects go.
Bed Bug Inspection
If one room has bed bugs, do they all? The short answer is that if you have any types of bed bugs in one room, you most likely have them in the rooms adjacent to that one. It’s best to check your home thoroughly for signs of bedbugs. Start with the first room you found the bed bugs in and then move outward to the rooms adjacent to that one. Eventually, you’ll want to check your entire house.
With any luck, you won’t find bed bugs in every room, but this doesn’t mean those rooms are bed-bug-free. It’s best to hire a professional to complete the inspection, just to make sure that you find all the bed bug caches. If even one pair or one female bed bug survives, the infestation process will continue.
Exterminators often use bed bug sniffer dogs to find where groups of bed bugs are in your home. This is a more thorough investigation than a layperson can make on their own, and bed bug inspectors know how to search for bed bugs thoroughly so that the infestation doesn’t continue to grow.
Even humans can smell a large bed bug infestation, but it has to be extremely severe. You would see an infestation that large before you could smell it. Many liken the smell to overripe berries.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs From Spreading to Other Rooms
Do bed bugs travel from room to room? They can be carried about on you, your clothing, on pets, etc. If you have an intense bed bug infestation, it’s best to stick with the professional route.
Expert inspectors and sniffer dogs can find each bed bug and even eggs, which humans find difficult to detect sometimes. A professional search will tell you exactly what areas, rooms, and objects are affected and how you can treat your home accordingly.
However, if the bed bug infestation in your home is not to a severe level and you’ve only found them in a room or two, there are some steps you can take to stop them in their tracks. They can be found in any rooms in a house, not just a bedroom, especially if they've been found in a bedroom already.
First, wash the bedding from infected rooms. You should wash the bedding and clothing from the same room separately so that the bed bugs don’t have a chance to spread from bedding to clothes or vice versa. Bed bugs cannot survive for long at temperatures exceeding 118 degrees Fahrenheit, so wash and dry everything at this temperature or higher.
You will then need to place plastic encasements over infected mattresses. This is a technique for the long game. You must keep the plastic encasements on the mattresses for two years to be safe. Of course not all types of mattresses are susceptible, such as purely latex ones or waterbeds. These bugs take a long time to starve and/or suffocate. If you can be patient, eventually they will.
The next step is steam cleaning, whether you have carpet or hardwood floors. Bed bugs cannot withstand the temperature, and this will kill whichever ones have managed to make it to the floorboards or even other pieces of furniture.
If there are piles of old books or toys in the afflicted rooms, you should bag these up for at least one year to two years in plastic, or a few months if you do a DIY hot-or-cold treatment. This involves putting the plastic-bagged items in a car for a day or two in the middle of summer or the freezer for a week or two.
If neither of these is possible, you should leave it up to the professionals to exorcize the bed bugs and their remnants from your belongings.
If you want to draw out other bed bugs, continue to sleep in the infected room. It may seem gross, but if you continue to sleep in the infected room, it’s a good way to draw out remaining bed bugs from their hiding places, and you can keep them from accidentally spreading to other rooms.
You should also try to plug up any entry holes the bed bugs may be moving through. Inspect your home for small cracks and crevices that bed bugs may be using to hide or breed, or even to enter your home and caulk or seal these up.
So, If One Room Has Bed Bugs, Do They All? Maybe
If one room has bed bugs, do they all? With a few precautions and knowledge of the signs, you can prevent bed bugs from spreading throughout your house. However, if you have already seen the signs, there’s a good chance that all of the rooms in your home have bed bugs. Call a professional exterminator to ensure that you deal with the infestation properly.