What Brings Bed Bugs Out Of Hiding?

1. Heat

To draw out bed bugs from their harborage, you can use either extreme heat or moderate heat.

Let me explain.

Moderate heat attracts bed bugs, and extreme heat repels them. 

Research shows that bed bugs leave their harborage area when exposed to temperatures higher than 110 degrees.

That’s because temperatures beyond 120 Fahrenheit are fatal to bed bugs.

When you expose bed bugs to high temperatures, they will leave to find a safer place.

You’ll typically see bed bugs crawling on walls or floors when doing heat treatment in your home.

That said, you can also use moderate heat to lure bed bugs out of their hiding spots.

Researchers found that bed bug activity increases at temperatures higher than 80 degrees.

That’s because bed bugs use heat to locate their host and get their blood meal.

This heat-seeking behavior may also explain why bed bugs typically bit us around our back and midsection.

These areas tend to be the warmest areas of the human body.

Temperatures produced by hairdryers or hand warmers, for example, are perfect for attracting bed bugs.

Using the blow dryer on the medium and low setting is hot enough to draw bed bugs towards the blow dryer. 

At the higher settings, the blowdryer will force the bed bugs to scurry for additional protection. 

If you don’t have a blowdryer, you can also use a heat gun. 

Be careful when using heat guns because they can damage furniture and fabrics much faster than a blowdryer. 

Use heat guns with caution because they can reach very high temperatures quickly. 

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2. Carbon Dioxide

Bed bugs feed on our blood. To find us, they use the carbon dioxide we exhale.

When we sleep, the carbon dioxide we exhale creates a cloud around us due to the limited movement.

These clouds are highly attractive to bed bugs.

To draw out bed bugs, you can use dry ice.

Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide. It’s available in most stores across the US.

Place the dry ice in a small container or pitfall trap near bed bug harborage areas.

Pitfall traps allow bed bugs to crawl in but not crawl out.

They are made of a plastic dish and work based on the fact that bed bugs cannot climb slippery surfaces.

You can also add soap and water in the container to drown any bed bugs that get caught in the trap.

When handling dry ice, make sure you follow safety protocols as inhaling large amounts can lead to harmful effects, including headache, confusion, and disorientation.

Another way you can use C02 to draw bed bugs out is by using C02 mixture packs.

These packs are designed specifically for bed bugs and typically come with a bed bug trap.

3. Chemical Lure

A bed bug lure is a chemical designed to attract bed bugs.

They are designed to mimic the chemicals found on the surface of human skin.

The idea is to send bed bugs signals that a host is present even when there is none.

One of the best chemical lures is SenSci Activ Bed Bug.

To capture bed bugs using a chemical lure, place one pack inside a pitfall trap.

The lure will attract the bed bugs while the trap will capture them.

I recommend that you keep a bed bug spray nearby for those bed bugs that come out of hiding but don’t get caught in the trap.

Keep in mind, Pitfall traps do not target bed bug eggs.

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4. Combination – Heat, C02, and Chemical

Research has shown that combining heat, C02, and a chemical lure attracts the most bed bugs.

The study shows that combining these three was able to attract bed bugs faster than any individual method. 

That’s primarily because this combination is what most resembles a human host.

To use these three methods together, I recommend using: 

  1. Heat Pad or Packet
  2. Dry Ice as a source of CO2
  3. SenSci Active Bed Bug 

Place these three products in a localized region to attract bed bugs. 

To capture bed bugs, place all three ingredients inside bug traps and let it sit on your bed.

5. Steam

Bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive temperatures that exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most steamers can reach up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposing bed bugs to this temperature will cause them to panic and leave their harborage.

The benefit of steams is that you will also any bed bugs you see once you force them out of hiding.

To kill bed bugs, set your steam to 150 degrees or higher.

To be sure, check your steamer’s temperature using a thermometer.

Place one layer of a towel over your steamer and
point the steam to the thermometer for 1-3 seconds.

When steaming, focus on seams, edges, and folds in the fabric.

Also, make sure to move from top to bottom.

If you go from bottom to top, the steam will rise and cause any bed bugs to try and get away from the heat.

Steaming from bottom to top can cause bed bugs to retreat to areas you have already steamed.

For best results, keep your pace to about 1 inch per second.

Doing so will deliver enough heat to kill bed bugs without damaging fabrics.

Finally, to reach inside crevices, use a smaller fine point tip or brush tip.

Using a fine point tip will allow you to inject steam into small crevices that would otherwise be hard to reach.

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6. Credit Card

Another way you can draw out bed bugs is by sliding a credit card in their hiding places.

Swipe your credit card through common harborage areas such as crevices, folds, and seams.

If the physical contact does not kill them, the disruption will cause them to look for a new hiding spot.

I recommend using gloves, a face mask, and a flashlight when using this method for safety.

7. Liquid Insecticide

Chemical treatment involves spraying insecticides on bed bug’s hiding places.

There are two types of spray you can use: contact and residual.

Contact sprays will kill any bed bugs that come in direct contact with the chemical.

Residual sprays are slow-acting. They leave a residual effect and will kill any bed bugs that come into contact with the area that it was sprayed on for several weeks afterward.

One of the most popular insecticides is Flex 10-10.

This chemical is a repellent that works well in drawing out bed bugs from their hiding spots and killing them in the process.

When using insecticides, make sure to spray on seams, edges, crevices, and folds in the fabric.

If you see any bed bugs running around, spray those as well, even if you’re using a residual spray.

Also, make sure to read and follow all label instructions.

Pay special attention to what type of furniture, surfaces, and materials is the insecticide safe to use.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how long it takes before re-application and follow accordingly.

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FAQ

Where Do Bed Bugs Commonly Hide?

Bed bugs like to be as close to their host as possible, so they prefer to be on mattresses and headboards.

They also look for shelters with little air movement and plenty of cracks and crevices.

Some common places bed bugs aggregate are:

  • Mattress 
  • Bed Frame 
  • Boxspring 
  • Clothes 
  • Nightstand 
  • Dresser
  • Head Board
  • Couch
  • Electronics
  • Carpet 
  • Luggage 
  • Blinds 
  • Curtains 
  • Cracks, crevices, fabric seams, and folds

What are the signs of bed bugs?

Some of the most common signs of bed bug infestation are:

  1. Live bed bugs – Bed bugs are about the size of a grain of rice, oval, flat, and light brown to reddish-brown. 
  2. Bed Bug Eggs – Bed bugs are smaller than a grain of rice, white and are oval.
  3. Dried blood – Small specs of fresh blood will look like dark red dots around your couch. 
  4. Skin casings – Bed bugs shed their skin to grow. The presence of these skin cases is a good sign of bed bug infestation.
  5. Bed Bug Feces – bed bug feces appears as small black spots or black/brown streaks. 

Where do bed bugs hide their eggs?

Bed bugs generally lay their eggs in their harborage area.

It’s common to find bed bug eggs on mattresses, bedsprings, headboards, and bed frames.

You’ll also find eggs inside cracks and crevices in walls, floors, or baseboards.

You would see these eggs stuck on the surface, giving them additional protection against any movement or damage.

Where do Bed Bugs Hide on Your Body?

Bed bugs do not hide on your body.

The only time bed bugs are attached to the host is during the feeding process.

Once they are done feeding, they leave their host and go back to their harborage area.

Bed bugs prefer to hide in dark places with little airflows such as seams, folds, edges, and crevices.

What Attracts Bed Bugs?

The three primary things that bed bugs are attracted to: 

  1. Heat 
  2. CO2
  3. Histamine

Bed bugs are attracted to these three things because they signal the presence of a host.

Humans produce both heat and CO2. When bed bugs sense CO2 and heat, they know their next blood meal is close.

On the other hand, histamine is a chemical that bed bugs use to attract each other to a host.

Bed bugs do this by leaving this chemical on the surface of the skin after biting you.

This chemical signals to other bed bugs that there is food, and it’s safe to eat.

This behavior can help explain why people with bed bugs often end up with clusters of bites.

After a bed bug finds an area to bite you, it alerts other bed bugs in your home to come to enjoy the buffet.

Resource: 8 Things That Attract Bed Bugs

Do Bed Bugs Like the Dark?

Bed bugs prefer to hide in dark locations with little airflow.

However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t bite you when there is light.

Bed bugs will feed on your regardless of whether or not you have the light on.o.

What causes bed bugs?

Bed bugs move from room to room through holes, cracks, and crevices.

They also enter your home by hitchhiking a ride on backpacks, luggage, clothes.

If you’ve traveled somewhere with bed bugs or have a neighbor who has bed bugs, you likely got your bed bugs there.

It’s also possible to get bed bugs if you recently purchase used furniture or other used items such as clothes.

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