Do Bed Bugs Bore Into Wood?

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There are plenty of hiding places for bedbugs in these floorboards.
There are plenty of hiding places for bedbugs in these floorboards. (Image: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Bedbugs do not bore into wood or damage wood like carpenter ants or termites do. Because of their nearly flat bodies, they take advantage of any narrow cracks they find in wooden objects, including floors, walls, furniture, headboards, picture frames and windows. Any bedbug-management program must include checking wooden objects, floors and walls for cracks.

Function

Bedbugs find prey such as a sleeping person by smelling the carbon dioxide the person exhales with their antennae. Bedbugs search out cracks and crevices to hide in near the creature emitting carbon dioxide. Although bedbugs do not live in colonies, many bedbugs can hide in the same wooden crack without fighting, according to University of Kentucky entomologist Michael F. Potter.

Significance

Bedbugs use cracks in wood or other objects in order to wait out insecticide treatments. Adult bedbugs survive up to one year between blood feedings. Insecticides need to contact the bedbug in order to kill it. Over-the-counter insecticides such as foggers or “bug bombs” fail to penetrate the cracks where bedbugs hide. Exterminators need to spray directly into wooden cracks. But homes may still need more than one treatment in order to kill all of the bedbugs, according to North Dakota State University entomologist Janet Knodel.

Management

Homeowners must fight bedbug infestations through a combination of vigorous housecleaning, home repair and pesticides. Launder all cushions, clothes, bedding and soft toys in hot water and put through a hot dryer. Vacuum all carpets and around floorboards. All furniture, nightstands, headboards, walls, floors, floorboards, picture frames and framed mirrors need to be checked for cracks. Even if bedbugs are not in the crack, the crack needs to be repaired or filled to eliminate hiding places. Only throw out a bed or any other piece of furniture if a professional exterminator recommends it.

Misconception

Bedbugs are not attracted to dirt or filth. They are only attracted to carbon dioxide and heat. Even the cleanest homes or hotels may house bedbugs because of their tremendous ability to hide in narrow places. But keeping a sloppy home with lots of junk and objects cluttering rooms will give bedbugs more chances of finding hiding places and suitable areas to lay eggs. Cleaning and tidying a home is so important to killing bedbugs that exterminators insist on a thorough housecleaning before they spray for bedbugs.

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