Can You Get Bed Bugs by Being in a Person's House Who Has Them?

Bed bugs can travel in your clothing or luggage.
Bed bugs can travel in your clothing or luggage. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Bed bugs are back in epic numbers after having once been nearly eradicated by dangerous pesticides. Since the pesticide that nearly wiped them out isn't used in the U.S. anymore, the bugs have made their way back into the mainstream. Part of why they travel so fast is because they're small and sneaky, and easy to pick up from someone's house or an infested hotel. If you know the signs of infestation and take proper precautions when you travel or visit friends, you can avoid inviting the pests into your bedroom.

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Where Bed Bugs Live

Bed bugs typically live in bedrooms because they feed at night on human blood. Still, staying away from an infested bedroom won't eliminate the chances that you'll bring them home. Bed bugs like to be near people and if people spend a lot of time on couches or lounging next to book cases, bed bugs can live near those areas as well. Because they're so small, you friend might not even know she has them until the infestation gets big enough to become more obvious.

How They Travel

Bed bugs travel when we travel. In fact, traveling is one of the most common ways the bugs spread. Bed bugs come out at night and don't like to be disturbed, so they don't live on people. They prefer dark places, like under your mattress. Still, if bed bugs are hungry enough, they will come out in the daytime. If they do, it's possible to carry them home on your clothes. What's more common is to carry them home in your bags or luggage. If you climb into bed or plop down on a couch, you could disturb bed bugs and they may scatter into your baggage.

Know the Signs

Bed bugs are small, and the eggs and nymphs are difficult to detect with the naked eye. The mature adults are roughly the size of an apple seed and similar in color. You can see them easily if they nest in a place you can get to. What's more obvious is the black spots or speckles that appear in the seams of the mattress or on surfaces where they live. These spots are actually fecal material made of digested blood. If you see these spots, it's likely there are bed bugs near by.

Avoiding Bringing them Home

One of the best ways to avoid bringing bed bugs home is to keep your bags off the floor and off of the bed. Place them on a luggage rack or on top of the piece of furniture farthest from the bed or suspected nesting place. When you come home, go to a place like the garage or entry way and take off your clothes. Place them in a bag, along with any clothes from your luggage, and put them right in the washer. Dry on high heat for at least 20 minutes at 120 degrees. Check your luggage and bags thoroughly before you bring them in the house.

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