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What Causes Bed Bugs: What They Are and Where They Come From

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" What causes bed bugs has a simple answer. If you live in a single family house, then the bed bugs would have to of been carried into the home by a family member or visitor. They are typically picked up when traveling or from a public space such as an infested movie theater or public transportation. They can also enter the home if you purchased used furniture, or if new furniture/mattress was carried into a home from a truck that also carried used furniture.

Bed bug apartment problems are either caused by people unknowingly bringing them home as described above or through cracks from an adjacent apartment. In many cases the insects spread through the walls from one apartment to another (7% ot 20% chance of this happening when you live next door to an infested apartment). 

The spread of bed bugs has nothing to do with sanitary conditions or cleanliness in the home. They are great hitchhikers, that move from an infested area to luggage, clothing or even school backpacks."

What Causes Bed Bugs in an Apartment

Bed bugs spread in apartment buildings when:

  1. Bed bugs move through the walls from one apartment to another
  2. A resident unknowingly brings  in bed bugs from an infested room. Bed bugs hitch hike in dark narrow hiding places.

Can Bedbugs Spread From Apartment to Apartment?

Yes, there is a 20% chance that bed bugs will travel from apartment to apartment when the two apartments are on the same floor.  

There is a 7% chance that bed bugs will spread above and below the infested room.

It is becoming common for buildings to educate tenants regarding what causes bed bugs, so that future problems can be avoided. Many apartment buildings in larger cities are starting  to enforce strict policies in term of inspecting items brought into homes and even going so far as to build heat rooms that kill any insects at high temperatures (114F), the level needed to kill bed bugs and any hidden bed bug eggs.

What To Do About Bed Bugs in a single family Home

The best approach is to call in a bed bug pest control professional, who has the knowledge and experience to do an inspection, assess the extent of the bed bug problem and then recommend a treatment plan.

Don't wait or the problem will get much worse and possibly more expensive to treat.  We have a list of pest control companies that are specifically qualified to treat bed bugs. These companies will provide a quote at no charge to you.

Be sure to use a bed bug specialist, as they will know where to look and may have specialized equipment such as heating units.

Follow this link to find a qualified local bedbug exterminator near you.  Please keep in mind that if the bed bugs are not treated correctly, missed will begin to multiply and the problem will return.  Don't use a pest control company unless they have extensive experience treating bed bugs.

If an infestation is small and limited to one room, you can try a do it yourself method.  Do not buy a single spray at Home Depot or Lowes and expect the problem to go away. A Bed Bug Kit that contains a mattress safe knock down spray, residual spray for lasting protection and bed bug powder are the minimum requirements. These are the toughest insects to remove from the home.  One product is not enough.  Even professionals often require up to 3 room treatments.

Tip: Do not use a fogger or bed bug bomb. These just push the bed bugs into the walls.

Follow the recommendations in our guide to home bed bug treatment.

what to do if you have bed bugs in an apartment or attached home

If you rent, most State laws require that you report the problem to your managing agent in writing. In most States it is the responsibility of the building owner to arrange for and pay for treatment. DO NOT TREAT the problem yourself. 

  1. Call your building manager and check with your local department of health to see what your rights are, such as mandatory treatment.  Check our guide to State Bed Bug Laws.
  2. Inspect the bedrooms and other rooms of the apartment for bed bugs. Check areas where you spend time such as sleeping or watching TV.
  3. Schedule a treatment with the landlord.  Be sure to inform adjacent apartments (next door, above and below yours).  All adjacent apartments (next door, above, below) need to be professionally inspected.
  4. Prepare the apartment for treatment by removing clutter.
  5. Note that it can take 2 to 3 treatments before the bed bug problem is taken care of.

If you own your home or apartment, call 2 or 3 exterminators for a free in-home inspection and quote. We suggest using an exterminator that has been pre-screened by a major network such as Home Advisor. You can also call (877) 673-2704.

what causes bed bugs to die?

There are several causes for a bed bug to die.

  • If they do not feed for 12 months on a human host.
  • Heat - Temperatures above 120F cause death in minutes.
  • Freezing - Temperatures below 5F for several days.
  • Pesticides that are proven to kill bed bugs.

can bed bugs survive outdoors

Bed bugs can survive outdoors for limited periods of time depending on the temperature and the availability of blood meals. They also have natural enemies such as cockroaches, pharaoh ants and some spiders are bed bug predators.  


Do bed bugs crawl around outside?

Bedbugs do not crawl around outside. They are more likely to hide in a crevice waiting for a host.

Could My Girlfriend Have Cheated if bedbugs are in our bed?

Bed bugs in your bed does not mean your girlfriend has cheated on you. Anyone could unsuspectingly bring bed bugs into a home as they are notorious hitchhikers on shoes or other items. They can be picked up on public transit, from an infested car or even at work. They can also spread from one apartment or room to another.


Each of these free brochures provide additional information on how to identify bed bugs in your home or apartment.

Guide to the causes and treatment of bed bugs.
Available in a free Ebook

Causes of bed bugs, biology, other insects that bite, and how to get rid of the insects once you have them..
Available in a free Ebook


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