Bed bug infestations are on the rise across the country, which means more homeowners are dealing with these troublesome insects. Bed bugs have been found in all 50 states and can thrive in just about any climate where humans are active. If you're worried about the possibility of an infestation in your home, you're not alone. Read on to find out more information about where bed bugs originate and where they live once they're in your house.

bed bug

Bed bugs are primarily active at night and prefer to feed on human blood. During the daytime, they will typically hide in close proximity to their host. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into even the tiniest of places, making them nearly impossible to detect if you don't know the warning signs.

Where do bed bugs originate from?

Bed bugs originated in the Middle East and have been around for at least 3,550 years. Even ancient Egyptians dealt with these pests. Since they require blood to survive and reproduce, they've been feeding off of human blood for about as long as they've been around. Over time, they've evolved into different subspecies and spread across the world.

Where do bed bugs live in nature?

Bed bugs want to be near their food source, so they're most commonly found in homes. But long before humans started sleeping in cushy beds, bed bugs lived in caves with healthy bat populations. They fed off bat blood and gradually evolved to feeding on human blood.

If a home isn't available, bed bugs can live outside, typically in areas with high levels of human activity. They can be found in busy campsites, on furniture left outside on street corners, in homeless encampments, and even in taxis, buses, trains and planes.

How do bed bugs get in your home?

Bed bugs don't just stroll through open cracks in your home. Instead, they tend to get inside by hitching a ride on an item. They do this by tucking themselves into suitcases that have been in hotel rooms or hiding a piece of used furniture. They can even come in on your clothing if you spend time in a house with an active infestation, though this is far less common.

That's why it's always best to leave your suitcase outside after returning from a trip and check any used furniture you're purchasing before bringing it into your home.

Where do bed bugs live in your house?

Bed bugs get their name because of where they like to live: your bed. But that doesn't mean they're lurking on the surface. They like to hide from light and only emerge when it's time to feed. It also doesn't mean they can't spread to other furniture in your home. They can if the population grows quickly enough.

That said, there are three main places where bed bugs tend to spend their time between feedings:

  • The box springs beneath your mattress
  • In the bed frame and headboard
  • All over the mattress, including the tufts, folds and buttons

If you're concerned about a bed bug infestation in your home, check these locations first. If you notice any living bed bugs or see signs that could indicate an infestation (more on that below), contact a pest control specialist right away.

Where do bed bugs live in mattresses?

Bed bugs like to live in hidden areas around your bed where light doesn't reach them. That's why they most commonly live in the seams of your mattress and in crevices created by the bed frame and headboard.

It's rare that you'll see them crawling on the surface, especially during daylight hours. But since there are different types of mattresses available these days, it stands to reason that people would wonder if bed bugs are more likely to infest certain mattress types over others. Here's a breakdown of their preferred mattress materials.

Can bed bugs live on air mattresses?

Bed bugs can easily climb on an air mattress to feed, but they can't live or nest inside it. This is because most modern air mattresses are made of puncture-resistant materials. Bed bugs can't gnaw through the surface to hide inside the mattress. And, even if they did manage to find a way inside the mattress, the bed itself wouldn't provide much shelter.

That doesn't mean they can't bite you if you're sleeping on an air mattress. Bed bugs can detect the carbon dioxide on your breath from three feet away. If they need to feed, they'll find a way to do it.

Can bed bugs live on memory foam mattresses?

Though memory foam mattresses are relatively new, they still make a possible habitat for bed bugs. The material is easy for bed bugs to climb on, but it's not their ideal place to make a shelter. As previously mentioned, though, bed bugs are determined parasites and will happily feed on you regardless of bed type.

Can bed bugs live on plastic mattresses?

Plastic or vinyl mattresses are especially common in medical facilities, dormitories and summer camp bunks. They're easy to clean, durable and don't crush down easily even after repeated use. And, like other types of mattresses, bed bugs can easily climb onto them and feed on sleeping humans. They can't live on or in plastic mattresses, but they can still hide along the seams for short periods of time.

Do bed bugs live inside your mattress?

Under normal conditions, bed bugs try to stay on the surface of your mattress. They may spend their time in the seams and between the folds of your sheets and blankets, but they don't typically crawl into your mattress. The only time they do is if your mattress has a crack or hole in the material.

If they make it inside the mattress, they may stay there between feedings if the interior gives them room to find shelter. Typically, this only happens with spring mattresses as the support structure and cushioning allows bed bugs to effectively hide from light without getting exposed to extreme temperatures.

Bed bugs are also commonly found in box springs just beneath the mattress. Most box spring covers are easy to tear, which means it's more likely for bed bugs to be able to get inside. They love to lay their eggs in the seams and hidden crevices in and around your bed. This is because the eggs will be safer in those hidden spots so they can hatch and continue the infestation throughout your home.

Where else are bed bugs found?

Though bed bugs are most commonly found on and around your bed, they're not afraid to invade other areas of your home. They can hide behind outlet covers, in furniture, along the fold of curtains and inside your luggage. The truth is that bed bugs can be found just about anywhere in your home. They may prefer to stay close to your bed, but as they reproduce and their numbers grow, they'll spread into other areas.

What are the signs of bed bugs?

If you know what to look for, you can spot bed bugs in your home. The sooner you find them, the easier it will be to deal with an impending infestation. Look for these common signs:

  • Rusty or reddish smears on your sheets and pajamas
  • Dark spotting and staining, which is dried bed bug fecal matter
  • Shed exoskeletons or skins of juvenile bed bugs
  • Adult bugs or bug carcasses on the mattress
  • Raised, red bites or welts along your neck, elbows, knees and stomach
  • Strange, musty odors in your room

If you notice even one of these signs or suspect that you might have a bed bug infestation in your home, schedule a consultation with your pest control specialist as soon as you can. Though these signs can indicate bed bugs, they may also indicate that other troublesome pests have invaded your home. Only an experienced professional will be able to identify the exact type of infestation you're dealing with and how to best treat it.

What to do if you find bed bugs Finding bed bugs in your home isn't pleasant, but that doesn't mean you need to panic. It's more effective to find proactive ways to manage the infestation. Wash and dry your bedding on high heat, following manufacturer directions. Repair cracks in walls. Get rid of clutter around your bed. Invest in bed protectors to keep bed bugs from climbing up the frame to your mattress. Though these DIY methods may reduce your risk of bites, they're not enough to fully protect your home from an infestation. Only a professional bed bug treatment can properly address the problem and protect your family from bites. Schedule an appointment with your Terminix® pest control specialist if you suspect bed bugs have entered your home. They'll inspect your property and determine the best treatment plan to meet your needs.