​​Where Do Bed Bugs ​Live and Hide?

  • Written By Dan Edwards on January 8, 2018
    Last Updated: December 29, 2020

When considering where bed bugs hide, it might be easier to begin with where they don’t conceal themselves. They exist on every continent in the world—even Antarctica. They are in every state and probably just about any place you can think might be a good site. What’s equally as disturbing are the figures.

Australia, for example, has seen a mind-boggling 4,500 percent increase in the last 10 to 15 years. In the United States, the number of bed bug reports in New York City rose 2,000 percent between 2004 and 2009. This phenomenon has been underway since the mid-1990s. It seems like no coincidence that it has coincided with the ban on the pesticide, DDT, in 1972. Part of the problem lies with the places where they hide.

Signs That You May Have Bed Bugs

Like other pests, bed bugs are notorious for being secretive. It’s a key part of their success. The chances are you may never see them in your home unless you make an effort to look for them. That’s why you need to know the signs that you have an infestation underway. The first place to look is on your body.

Bed bug bites leave visible signs on your skin. They inject an anticoagulant when they feed to get your blood flowing. You may find small traces on your body where they have bitten you or on your pajamas or sheets. The marks resemble a mosquito or spider bite, so it can be hard to tell which enemy has crawled into bed with you. Other symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Moderate to intense itching
  • Bite marks in lines or clusters

You also can look for other evidence of their presence. You may find traces of blood or feces in other parts of the room including other furniture where you might sit.

CC Image courtesy of AFPMB

If you check your bed, you may see bits of their outer skeleton which they shed when they molt. They’ll look like little brown specks on your mattress or covers.

Bed Bug Shells
Bed bug casings – CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

The room may also have a sweet, musky scent. If you discover any of these signs, you need to find out where they’re hiding.

Hiding Places In The Bedroom

The bedroom, unfortunately, is one of the most common rooms where they live. If you think about it, that makes sense. The average person spends about one-third of their life sleeping. That makes the bedroom the ideal place for a hungry bed bug to hang out, since there’s a good chance that you’ll spend a lot of time in that room. To find out where they’re hiding, you’ll need to do some detective work.

The bed, mattress, pillows, box spring, and headboard are the natural places to start your search. Remember, you’re looking for something that is about the size of an apple seed. You may find it helpful to use a flashlight and magnifying glass to make your job easier. Look in any cracks or crevices in your bedroom furniture.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Also, bedding including pillows and comforters can harbor groups of bed bugs. If you find bed bugs here, you can wash the linen, preferably in hot water if possible. Alternatively, you can freeze items that cannot tolerate high temperatures. Leaving them in the freezer for 10 or more days may kill the bed bugs in all of their life stages, but only if your freezer is cold enough (-18°C or colder).

However, your hunt isn’t limited to the bed. You’ll need to check less obvious places too, including:

  • Along the baseboards
  • Joint where the walls and ceiling meet
  • Cushions and lining of any other furniture in the room
  • Around electrical outlets and under switch plates
  • Closets
  • Dressers, inside and outside
  • Behind pictures
  • Blinds
  • Curtains and curtain rods
  • Laundry baskets

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bed bugs tend to stick close to home, usually within 5 to 20 feet from where they hide. If you’ve found some signs of bed bugs, make sure and search the perimeter within this distance. The chances are you’ll find them sooner or later.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

You’ll need to empty all dressers and closets for a thorough inspection. It’ll also mean looking under the mattress and under the bed. Use a systematic approach in your search, beginning with the mattress and then the area immediately around it. You must examine everything carefully including under any seams, buttons, or other attachments. Unfortunately, bed bugs aren’t confined to the bedroom.

Fortunately, bed bugs will never choose to live in your hair or on your body.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Other Hiding Places In The House

Other places in your home can provide ideal hiding places too. The thing to remember is that they prefer the same temperature range that you like, so any area is fair game for bed bugs.

The rest of your house presents a challenge. If you have an allergic reaction to these pests, you’ll know right away if you’ve been bitten. About 20 percent of people won’t have outright symptoms. It may even take up to 14 days for them to manifest if you do.

That will make it harder for you to make a connection between getting bit and where it happened. You can begin with the usual suspects. They include:

  • Couch and other furniture where people sit for extended periods
  • Under the rugs
  • Carpets, especially where it meets the wall

Under other furniture and tables

Keep in mind that bed bugs feed for up to 3 to 12 minutes at a time. You should check the places where you read or watch TV, like the sofa or your favorite recliner. The ideal hiding spot for a pest is one in which they are concealed and where they are not disturbed. You’ll have to stretch your imagination to uncover other potentials areas.

Hiding Places Outside The Home

A rise in both domestic and international travel is another reason that scientists believe is behind the sharp spikes in bed bug populations. A paper published in the journal, Medical and Veterinary Entomology, offers some interesting, albeit, startling data about other places that harbor bed bugs. The top sites for infestations in the United States include:

  • Apartments and condominiums
  • Private homes
  • Hotels/motels
  • College dormitories
  • Homeless shelters

The researchers also included similar data for Australia. Remember that 4,500-percent increase? The rankings there include:

  • Motels
  • Backpacker lodges
  • Private homes
  • Rented properties
  • Trains

These data findings provide solid evidence of a link between travel and bed bug problems. Another study by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, found that public health complaints involved apartments, shelters, and rooming houses. The researchers also reported on figures provided by pest control operators. They showed that single-family dwellings ranked highest, followed by apartments and shelters. The latter involved nearly one-third of all facilities.

It’s safe to say that you may find bed bugs anywhere there are people. There are reports of them in schools, nursing homes, public transportation, and clothing stores. They’ve even been found in a 3550-year-old Egyptian archaeological site. Talk about sleeping with the enemy!

How Do Bed Bugs Choose Where To Live?

To know where to find them, it’ll help to try to think like a bed bug and what it would look for in a hiding place. Concealment is vital. Hiding in plain sight is not an option. That’s why I emphasized looking in spots where they won’t likely be disturbed when people are active. After all, there’s a good reason that they’ve been around for over 4,000 years, according to the written historical record.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Bed bugs, like many other creatures, will use camouflage to their advantage, as they want to survive for as long as possible. Since they are brown in color, they tend to favor darker areas and corners within a room. Give these places extra attention in your initial inspection. That applies to any other objects of similar hues like furniture, bedding, and wall fixtures.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

When Do Bed Bugs Travel From Their Hiding Place?

Bed bugs by their very nature are opportunistic. That’s another reason why you’ll find them in so many different places. They will travel when the conditions present themselves, especially in situations where they can avoid detection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that they can move up to 100 feet. Feeding is the motivator.

When Do Bed Bugs Come Out

They prefer to come out during the quietest and darkest times of the night between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m, when you’re most likely to be in your deepest sleep and are least likely to detect them biting you. However, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule even if it describes the most likely scenario.

Do Bed Bugs Ever Come Out During The Day?

A hungry bed bug is a desperate one. Desperate creatures do desperate things—even coming out during the day. The problem is twofold for them. First, a person is more likely to feel it when they get bitten, if they’re awake too. That can mean certain death. Second, a bed bug that has fed can increase by 50 to 200 percent in size. That raises the risks when it comes to detection, assuming it’s made it that far.

Tips For Reducing The Number Bed Bug Hiding Places

Often, it’s necessary to get a pest control service in your home to get rid of bed bugs completely. Although, there’s no guarantee that they won’t return. That’s where preventive measures to give them fewer places to hide comes into play. Remember, that’s their primary defense, and that’s where you need to focus your attention.

Use Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural material made up of the remains of diatoms, a common type of phytoplankton found in both fresh and saltwater. It contains fragments of silica which cut into the bodies of bed bugs and other pests when they walk on it. The advantage is that you can handle a bed bug problem without resorting to using chemicals.

When looking for Diatomaceous Earth to use, don’t worry about buying anything too special or expensive, as most forms are more or less similar to each other. However, choosing a food-grade DE is probably your best choice as it can be less hazardous than other forms. A bag like this DiatomaceousEarth Food Grade 10lb should work absolutely fine.

You can sprinkle it under rugs and furniture where the pests may travel, thereby, reducing some preferred hiding spots. It’s not toxic or poisonous to people or pets. The disadvantage of it is that it takes time to act. A risk exists of inhalation. It’s crucial to follow the instruction for proper and effective usage.

Put Climbup Interceptors Under the Legs of Your Bed

Climbup Interceptors and similar products are shallow plastic containers that you can place under the legs of your bed. The concept is deceptively simple. It puts a barrier around the leg of the bed to prevent the bed bugs from climbing up and getting onto your bed—and you. It also will keep your bed farther from the wall to stop access from that front.

In my experience, the best and most effective bed bug traps are usually the ones that are designed to work in the simplest of ways. I’ve used the Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps extensively and I find they do the job better than any other trap I’ve tried. You also get a very generous 8 interceptors per pack. Place them directly underneath the bed/table/chair legs you’re trying to protect, and watch the bed bugs fall into the traps time and time again with no chance of escape.

If a pest should happen to fall, you’ll have the evidence you need to know that there is a problem in your home. You can add a little talcum powder to each one, but it isn’t a dealbreaker if you don’t. The advantage of this method is that you can avoid the use of pesticides. Pest control professionals favor that approach, but it’s nice to know you have an alternative solution.

Keep Up with the Housework

Even the cleanest homes can have bed bugs. It’s not the proverbial scarlet letter if you have them. These parasites get around by taking hitchhiking to a whole new level. Even luxury resorts have them. If you keep up with the vacuuming and dusting, you’re more likely to spot a problem before it becomes an infestation. You’ll also put a limit on the number of hiding places by making certain places less desirable.

Make sure you change the bag on your vacuum each time you clean a room where a problem has presented itself. Dispose of it promptly outside in the garbage.

You should launder your bedding frequently, even if it means taking Grandma’s comforter to the dry cleaner. Sheets, blankets, and pillowcases are common sites where bed bugs may linger. As I advised earlier, hot water is best, but a few nights spent in the icebox will work too. Plan on every two weeks at the minimum to strike them off of the list of potential sites.

That same advice applies to other laundry, too. Any area that remains undisturbed during the day holds the potential of being a hiding spot. Avoid leaving clothes on the floor too, especially by the bed.

Don’t forget the pets either when it comes to cleaning. While bed bugs prefer humans, hungry pests will feed on other animals, including your dog and cat. The same advice applies for their beds or blankets too.

Do Regular Inspections

It’s essential to stay on top of a bed bug problem. The best way to do that is with regular inspections in your bedroom and any other areas where you’ve identified an issue. Remember that bed bugs are mobile and can easily travel room-to-room. If you travel, add your luggage and its storage place to your list of potential spots.

To keep bed bugs away, take away their hiding places. If you notice cracks at joints in the baseboard, seal them with a filler. Bed bugs enjoy living in cracked and creviced wood due to the camouflage and protection offered, so check for these also.

Likewise, repair any damage to your mattress or box spring where they can conceal themselves during the day. Bed bugs are most likely to live where you sleep and hang out, so make those places the main focus for your searches.

This is NOT how your room should look during an infestation. Keep the area tidy to minimize potential hiding places.

Reconsider Second-Hand Furniture Purchases

Second-hand furniture may harbor bed bugs even in the nicest of consignment shops. With new items coming and going, there are frequent opportunities for exposure. Before buying any piece, give it a thorough once-over to avoid bringing home any stowaways.

Dust Areas Where You’ve Found Signs of Bed Bugs with Permethrin

Yes, permethrin is a pesticide, but it’s also a medication for humans. It’s one of the 100 essential medicines identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). Restaurants and public health mosquito control programs often use it for controlling pests. It can help you kill bed bugs and reduce hiding spots because of its residual effect.

Its effects can last up to three weeks, depending on the conditions. You don’t have to worry about the pets since it’s a common ingredient in flea collars. As with any chemical, you should follow the directions carefully and keep children away from places you have used it. While it is safer than many other products, you should still limit your exposure to it.

On the one hand, bed bugs are an insect success story. They’ve managed to survive thousands of years and have even undergone a resurgence. Besides, how many organisms can you name that live any place on the planet, other than humans, of course? They are an example of a resourceful creature that has found their niche in a human-occupied world through adaptation.

If they weren’t such a nuisance, you could almost admire their ability to thrive. When it comes to the question of where do bed bugs hide, it’d be hard to come up with somewhere you won’t find them. As long as it provides the necessary concealment, they may take advantage of any small, dark place.