Bed bugs greatest traits are their expertise in hitchhiking, hiding and their survival skills. An adult bed bug is about a quarter-inch long and flat as a piece of paper. This miniature size enables it to hide even in the most unlikely places.
Can bed bugs live on walls? Bed bugs can live in walls. If your wall has crevices and cracks that can fit a business card, then it is also a potential home for a bed bug. Walls have all sorts of appliances next to it and also different defects. A defect here stands for cracks in the wall, peeling wallpaper, loose sockets, broken baseboards, etc.
Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years. Research says that they originated from a species of bugs that feeds on bats which dwell in caves. How they ended up in our beds is a story which has cave dwellers, possible immigration, infestation and a deadly chemical known as DDT.
A history lesson isn’t why you are here so let us focus on the reason for those bed bugs on your walls, how they got there, where exactly you can find them and how to eradicate them. Let’s start!
Can Bed Bugs Climb Walls?
Yes, bed bugs can climb walls. Their feet may not be designed to jump or even move through hair/ fur but bed bugs are not hindered by the upward climb of a wall or any other steep surface.
Bed bugs do not have wings and so they cannot fly and neither are their legs made for jumping. So how do they move from one place to another? They crawl.
Bed bugs like living only a few meters from their host and so once they have fed well through the night, they retreat to a nearby crevice where they hide out to mate and lay eggs until their next meal.
If your bed is up against the wall, they will definitely crawl onto the wall and find a nice crack where they can start multiplying and later infesting other places.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Wood Walls?
One thing we know about nature is that it is beautiful but hardly ever flawless. Why is this important? Look at the surface of the wood, no matter how refined wood is it always has some form of a crack, a creek or even an uneven surface where a branch was cut off. All these usually beautiful characteristics of wood are also the places where bed bugs will hide.
So yes, bed bugs can live in wood walls. While the few uneven surfaces are attractive to the eye and add to the décor of the home, they also provide a very convenient hiding spot for bed bugs and here are some reasons why:
- These spaces are dark and hidden making it a perfect hiding spot for the bed bugs.
- Most wood is brownish in color, which is similar to the color of bed bugs, this provides them with a great camouflage opportunity.
- Wood is a bad conductor of heat and thus it will neither get too cold nor too hot leaving the bed bug in a cool undisturbed environment.
Having wood for your walls does not exempt you from harboring bed bugs within the walls. In fact, it provides them with a wide range of hiding spots.
Unlike concrete walls which are often left with a smooth finish, the uneven spots on the wood, combined with the joins which result from hammering logs together, only create more hiding places for the bed bugs.
Can Bed Bugs Travel Through Walls?
As discussed in an earlier point, the only way for bed bugs to move from one place to another is by crawling. This method of movement combined with their miniature size makes them hard to spot as they commute.
We have established that bed bugs do in fact live in walls, and now let us consider the possibility of them traveling through said walls.
Bed bugs can’t travel through walls. There is no way for them to go inside and make a hole on the other side of the wall. They can only get on top of the wall. Traveling in this case, includes them moving from one room to the next and even from one apartment building to the next.
Studies have shown that bed bugs can travel a distance of 30-40 feet from their hiding spots to their host for a meal. These same studies have shown that during bed bugs treatment in any home, some bed bugs will instead flee from the treated areas into untreated areas.
These untreated areas can be either another room in the house or the next-door apartment. Remember we mentioned earlier that these pests are well equipped with survival skills and thus they will even travel further than normal, just to flee from pesticides.
They will crawl along the walls, through wall outlets, cables and anything that is positioned along the walls to get to their destination. This is one of the reasons it is quite challenging to fully eradicate bed bugs from your home.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Brick Walls?
Yes, bed bugs can live in brick walls. The only difference between a brick wall and a wooden one is the fact that the wooden one comes with natural cracks and crevices while the brick wall doesn’t. In the case of a brick wall, the reason bed bugs are able to live in it is that we enabled them to.
This means that if we fixed all the cracks, crevices, peeling wallpaper, broken sockets, broken baseboards, there wouldn’t be that many places left for the bed bugs to live in.
If you suspect that you may have bed bugs in your home, start by fixing your broken baseboards, those cracks on your walls and similar to reduce the hiding spots for your new unwanted residents.
Bed Bugs in Wall Outlets – Can They Live There?
With their natural reflex to survive, bed bugs will hide anywhere just to escape extermination. This means that every miniature corner even in the most unimaginable places, in any single room, is a potential hiding place for a bed bug. This includes:
- wall outlets
- air vents
- machine vents
- peeling wallpaper
- wall clocks
While this may not be the most ideal place to set up camp for these pests, they will certainly hide here especially in the case of a severe infestation. Wall outlets that are close to your bed are the biggest culprits for harboring bed bugs.
So do the bed bugs only visit these strategically located places or do they also live there?
They will happily set up camp in the wall outlets and only leave for their occasional meal from the nearby sleeping host.
Wall outlets also, act as a pathway for bed bugs from other rooms or apartments into yours. To cut off this passageway, you need to put powder bed bug pesticide outside of the socket box. This will kill any bed bugs which are already in the outlet when they come out and repel the traveler bed bugs from neighboring apartments.
To ensure that your wall outlets are completely free from bed bugs, seal off all those edges around the outlets using silicone glue.
Can Bed Bugs Eat Through Walls?
Bed bugs are not like termites and they do not eat through walls because they do not have the ability to burrow. They just use cracks in the wall as a hiding place.
Signs of Bed Bugs on Your Wall
One of the reasons that makes bed bugs really hard to exterminate is the fact that they are not easy to spot. In fact, in most cases, people only notice the presence of bed bugs in their homes after an infestation has already happened.
It is not easy to see a live bed bug walking around, not at first. However, once they are well established in your home then you start seeing signs of their presence. Signs of bed bugs are:
- Blood stains on various surfaces including your walls
- Dark spots of bedbug excrement
- Eggshells, or shed skins
- A musty odor in the areas where they have set up camp
- A bed bug crawling on the wall
Once you spot any of the above signs, do an in-depth inspection of your walls to see where exactly the bugs are hiding. Then commence with choosing the treatment options listed below.
Does Painting the Walls Help Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
It is a good thing you are still reading this article because it is time for some good news. Bed bugs bodies are naturally weak and only made to endure certain surfaces.
Bed bugs mouthparts are expert when it comes to feeding on mammals but that is about all they can do. These mouth parts, combined with their weak feet are not designed to chew or claw through surfaces.
With this in mind painting the walls helps a lot with getting rid of bed bugs on the walls but before applying paint, you should use sealants to cover the cracks and crevices on your wall. This combination is a very effective way of ridding your wall of bed bugs.
Apply an appropriate coat of sealant on the wall and cut off the bed bug population in your wall from the population in other areas of the room. These sealants, if well applied will protect any surface in your home from harboring bed bugs. These surfaces include walls, baseboards, beds, all furniture, etc.
How to Get Bed Bugs out of Walls – Step by Step Instruction
Getting rid of bed bugs from your wall requires a combination of methods to achieve maximum results. The following thorough steps will aid in your efforts to successfully eliminate the bugs.
Within these steps, we have linked example of products to consider during this process.
Step 1 – Clean Your Wall / Vacuum Cleaner
First thing you want to do is wash your wall. This will remove the excess bed bugs and their feces and will help you know exactly how infested the wall is. Use a vacuum cleaner that has a hose or one that is a handheld.
This will help you get to those out of reach surfaces that are probably housing legions of bed bugs. A flexible and yet sealed vacuum cleaner is the ideal choice for this task. One such vacuum is Atrix – VACBP1 HEPA Backpack Vacuum found on Amazon.
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Step 2 – Steam Cleaning
The second step is steam cleaning the cracks and crevices, around wall outlets and baseboards found all around your wall. A vacuum will have helped in removing most of the bed bugs but a steamer will penetrate deep into the cracks and reach those bed bugs that may have escaped the vacuum.
The reason for using a steamer is because heat kills both bed bugs and their eggs. Ensure that you steam all corners of your wall for maximum effect. A steamer such as J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer is very efficient.
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Step 3 – Bed Bug Spray Killer
Next step is using a contact spray bed bug killer. It is called so because it kills bed bugs instantly upon contact. Spray it all over the corners of your walls paying close attention to the baseboards, wall outlets (do not spray inside), and wallpaper edges.
A contact spray such as Bed Bug Patrol will help in the first phase of treatment.
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Step 4 – Residual Pesticide Application
Next, you want to ensure that the bed bugs have no chance of returning and repopulating your house. Using a residual pesticide will ensure that your home is protected for months to come.
A pesticide such as Premo Guard Bed Bug will be effective for a lengthy period. Apply this pesticide in the same areas you applied the contact spray because the contact spray doesn’t have a lasting effect.
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Step 5 – Seal off Their Hiding Places
Finally, you need to seal off the possible hiding places of these bugs. Once you have gone through all the above steps, you are now well aware of all the places bed bugs have been hiding within your wall.
Use the appropriate sealants for the various places within your walls. You can paint the wall, use vanish on the baseboards and seal off the openings around all wall outlets.
- SEALS OUT WATER, AIR & MOISTURE
- 30 MINUTE WATER READY
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Step 5 – Repeat Some of the Steps
Repeat the treatment process listed in the third and fourth steps above two more times for a fully certified bed bug free home.
Bed bugs are a nuisance all around and infesting walls makes their removal very challenging. Having followed the above steps, ensure that you treat the entire house to prevent another infestation from happening.
Home remedies such as the ones listed above will reduce the costs that come with contacting an exterminator. However, home remedies need to be followed thoroughly and carefully to ensure that all bed bugs are removed from the home. Best of luck!
List of Sources
EPA. (May 2010). Controlling Bed Bugs. Pesticides: Controlling Pests. (26 April 2017)
Diseases & Conditions – Bedbugs, Mayo Clinic
Koehler PG, Pereira RM, Pfiester M, Hertz J. (July 2011). Bed bugs and blood-sucking conenose. EDIS. (26 April 2017)
Potter, M. Bed Bugs. Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture