How Do Bed Bugs Spread? | Understand the Risks & Cautionary Steps

Written by Thomas Matthews

We are in an age where having bed bugs in your home is no longer a foreign concept. It may be frowned upon by various people because they simply have no information about bed bugs and are still bound to age-old beliefs and stigmatization about these pests.

Other people may be sympathetic after hearing that you have bed bugs in your home as they also had an encounter with bed bugs before and know just how easy it is to get caught in the midst of another infestation.

So how exactly do bed bugs spread? Bed bugs mostly spread by hitchhiking and hiding in luggage or clothes. They will hide away in travelers’ clothes and luggage and lay in waiting as the traveler moves around. Once they feel secure enough, they start to move around and, in some cases, end up being left behind at the travelers’ next stop. This stop can be a hotel room, a bus, a train, a library, or even his home. From there, the bug will go on looking for the next ride and get transferred to another spot, but not before having done some damage like laying eggs and leaving behind a population to flourish.

Bed bugs do not fly or jump this means they crawl from one place to the next using walls, ceilings, through wall outlets which effectively gives them access to other rooms in the home or from one apartment to another.

Most people are uninformed about all things related to the bed bugs and this lack of knowledge is understandable because who goes around looking for such information unless they have been the victims of a bed bug infestation? Anyway, this lack of knowledge, no matter how understandable it is, it also brings stigmatization.

All of these problems are resolved in this article so stick around and learn all the possible ways a bed bug can infest someone’s home.

How Did the Bed Bugs Get into Your Home in the First Place

How Did the Bed Bugs Get into Your Home in the First Place

Bed bugs are expert hitchhikers. That’s right, an adult bed bug is the size of an apple seed, what’s even weirder is the fact that it looks like the apple seed too, the only difference is the undeniable set of six legs and their ability to move. This size comes in very handy for them and is one of the bed bug’s biggest asset. Bed bugs will crawl onto unsuspecting travelers’ clothes, bags, hair, etc. and hide in there for as long as it pleases them.

They will then come out later when they feel safe and go on in search of a meal, probably on the very same unsuspecting traveler. After feeding, they will then look for another place to hide which may very well be the bed in which the said traveler decided to rest for the night or the seat he decided to patch on. All this can easily go unnoticed and soon after the bed bug has fed, it will lay its eggs and start its own population wherever it feels safe and that could literally be anywhere close to the host.

How Bed Bugs Spread From Room to Room

Bed bugs have no wings, which means they cannot fly and they largely depend on their tiny legs to crawl around. Do not underestimate the so-called tiny legs because they sure can move long distances in search of food. Bed bugs can move an average of four feet per minute, an impressive speed when scaled to human terms. They use walls, bedposts and anything they can to enable them to crawl through the room. This will, unfortunately, include wall outlets and ceilings.

This migration coupled with hitching a ride on the residents from room to room will result in bed bugs moving from one room to another. This also happens when one room has been treated for bed bugs. Every bed bug that isn’t in the direct line of the deadly pesticide, will try to flee once it recognizes the smell which in effect will cause it to find its way into another room.

How do Bed Bugs Spread from Person to Person

How do Bed Bugs Spread from Person to Person

This is done by the simple act of contact. Whether you are hugging, sitting or sleeping next to someone who is experiencing an infestation, you are very likely to walk away with a bed bug latching on your clothes.

This method isn’t that common when it comes to spreading the bed bugs because bed bugs might only come out to feed when they feel safe unlike when the person is moving around. While it may not be the fastest way to catch a bed bug, it is still a possibility that can unfortunately not be prevented.

How do Bed Bugs Spread from Apartment to Apartment

The method here is the same as when bed bugs are spreading from one room to the next. They will crawl on the walls, through the wall outlets, and even through vents. Basically, if there is an opening on your wall that doesn’t lead outside, but instead connects to another room, bed bugs will use it to crawl from room to room and from apartment to apartment.

To avoid this, treat the wall outlets by spraying with residual bed bug killer spray or powders. Next, seal all the wall outlets on your walls with proper sealants. This will stop any bed bugs from using that outlet as a passageway.

How Fast do Bed Bugs Spread?

A female bed bug will lay an average of two hundred and fifty eggs in its lifetime. That is an average of one to five eggs in a day. The laying of eggs is influenced by the regularity with which a bed bug is feeding. More studies of bed bugs have shown that feedings also tend to influence the nymphs’ developmental stages. After the egg has been laid (in any random crack or crevice), it continues on to hatch into a nymph that is only 1.5mm long, this duration lasts between six to ten days.

This tiny thing now needs a blood meal in order to molt into the next nymph stage which is only slightly larger. This process of feeding and shedding goes on until it has undergone a total of five molting stages.

Finally, the bug becomes an adult ready to lay its own eggs. Having taken into the consideration all the steps required before the bed bug is finally an adult, then the time it takes before each bed bug continues on with the population development, it certainly varies with the presence of a blood meal. However, bed bugs will not exist where there is no human host/meal since you live in your house (plus the other family members), few bed bugs can lead to a full-blown infestation in a matter of weeks.


Bed bugs’ uncanny ability to hide and crawl from place to place all while remaining unsuspected is certainly an advantage that helps them spread out rather rapidly. Society has us believing that once someone has bed bugs in their home, it certainly means that they are dirty. This reasoning has nothing to do with reality. Bed bugs only need three things to survive and dirt isn’t one of them.

They need blood, conducive temperatures, and a safe hiding spot. Wherever you find these three things, you shouldn’t be surprised to find bed bugs. For bed bugs to spread, they only need three things; discretion, a hiding spot, a mobile object or a wall to climb over. With these conditions, bed bugs will thrive and spread without a worry in the world. We hope you now have a better understanding of how bed bugs are spreading.

List of Sources

Bed Bug FAQs, Cornell University

What NOT to Do When you Have Bed Bugs, University of Minnesota

Merchant M., Bed bugs and your apartment, Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Dallas.

Thomas Matthews
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