After all, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) often resided in the heated homes of the well-to-do.
That said, after decades of relative absence in America, they’re once again common in hotels, offices, schools, homes, and apartments.
However, unlike their historic British brethren, they now come with a well-deserved stigma, and they don’t discriminate based on wealth or social status.
In other words, they’re equal opportunity nuisances.
But thankfully, bringing bed bugs with you to your new home isn’t a foregone conclusion…if you catch them early on.
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What are bed bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small wingless insects that resemble apple seeds.
They prey on sleeping birds and mammals at night by inserting sharp straw-like proboscis through their victim’s skin and extracting their blood.
Yeah, it’s gross.
And even worse, most people don’t realize they have bed bugs right away, which means that while they’re sleeping, they may be covered in dozens of these nocturnal parasites.
Though you might think they’d be easy to detect, families on the move often unwittingly transport bed bugs from their old homes to their new ones.
However, it’s important to note that bed bugs don’t actually live on their host’s bodies.
Instead, they spend the daylight hours in hidden places like the creases and folds in mattresses, box springs, and comforters.
The good news is that by taking a few easy steps, you can stop these wily marauders in their tracks.
What are the signs of bed bugs?
If you’re enjoying a poppy seed bagel while reading this article, you’ll want to set it aside for the time being.
Better yet, go stick it in the fridge because the signs of bed bug infestation may trigger your gag reflex.
One way of detecting bed bugs is by the bumpy red rashes they leave behind.
Often small and localized, they may be mistaken for allergic reactions commonly experienced after eating certain kinds of food.
Other even more disgusting indications include –
- Brown, amber, or reddish stains on bedding caused by bed bug excrement or the bugs themselves getting crushed and expelling the blood inside them
- Yellow or ochre-colored eggs and eggshell fragments that resemble brown rice husks
- Adult skins shed when bed bugs moult, which they do five times in their lives.
- Live bed bugs on comforters, sheets, pillows, mattresses, and box springs (and other places that we’ll cover shortly)
Did You Know?
After a big “meal,” bed bugs can double their weight.
Where do bed bugs hide and live?
After engaging in a nocturnal feast, bed bugs retreat to out-of-the-way places that can make detection difficult.
They generally hide near to where they feed, primarily on and around beds.
In addition, they can also be found in –
- Cracks, crevices, and seams in headboards and footboards
- Furniture like dressers, night tables, sofas, and upholstered chairs
- Inside appliances and electrical sockets in walls
- Behind pictures, mirrors, and other wall hangings
- Inside floorboards
- In small cracks and baseboards between floors, walls, and ceilings
- Folds in comforters, linens, clothes, and luggage
- Bed frames
Did You Know?
Bed bugs can squeeze through openings no thicker than a credit card.
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Should you move if you have bed bugs?
We’ve already established that bed bugs are filthy, embarrassing, and a huge hassle.
That’s all bad enough as it is, but when relocating to a new home or apartment, they can turn the moving process into an absolute nightmare.
On the bright side, discovering bed bugs doesn’t have to put a crimp in your plans.
But there’s a catch – early detection is key.
To that end, we suggest doing a detailed bed bug inspection at least two weeks before moving day.
Hoping your crew doesn’t notice your bed bugs on move day is a really bad idea. Instead, notify your moving company as soon as you detect them, then call an exterminator.
How do you deal with bed bugs when you move?
Hopefully, your pre-move inspection will reveal a critter and bed bug-free home.
If not, you’ll have the following DIY bed bug treatments at your disposal –
- Wash bedding, clothes, and curtains in hot water and detergent
- Dry them for at least 30 minutes on your dryer’s highest setting (read the labels first)
- Clean mattress and box spring seams with a stiff brush to remove bed bugs and eggs
- Vacuum the seams using a high suction attachment
- Vacuum on, under, and around beds, night tables, dressers, and in the spaces between floors and walls
- When finished, carefully remove the vacuum bag, place it inside another plastic bag, and put it in an outside trash can.
In addition, you can purchase mattress and box spring bags made from tightly woven fabrics with high-quality zippers.
Just remember that no matter how thoroughly you clean them, there will probably still be a few eggs and bed bugs inside.
Good mattress bags will prevent new bed bugs from getting in and the ones trapped inside from escaping.
The latter will eventually die from lack of food, but bed bugs can survive nearly a year without eating.
Also, ask yourself, do I really want to sleep on a mattress with dead bed bugs and eggs trapped inside?
If not, it may be time to cut your losses and buy a new bed.
Bed bug extermination
DIY solutions may limit the spread of bed bugs, but they rarely eliminate them altogether.
Relatively inexpensive anti-bed bug chemical treatments and pesticides are available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
That said, they’re also highly toxic and can be especially dangerous to kids and pets – and you may need to seal off treated areas for a day or two.
It’s usually best to call in professional exterminators to get the job done right.
How likely is it to transfer bed bugs?
Studies have shown that –
- Adult bed bugs can survive temperatures up to nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- Their heat resistant eggs can withstand temperatures approaching 125 degrees Fahrenheit
- bed bugs can survive for more than three days in temperatures as low as 3 degrees Fahrenheit
The takeaway here is that they’re hearty insects.
When sitting in direct sunlight, car interiors can heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more even when the temperature is moderate.
Now think about a moving van.
In June, a 53-foot steel and aluminum trailer sitting at a truck stop parking in Tucson, Arizona, can get much hotter.
In instances like these, bed bugs and their eggs won’t survive.
On the other hand, if you’re moving from New York to Lincoln, Nebraska, the temperature inside won’t kill them in October.
To be on the safe side, plan for the worst and take care of bed bugs before your household goods get onto a moving van.
Will movers move a mattress with bed bugs?
If movers detect bed bugs, they probably won’t load your household goods onto the truck.
And if they’ve already started, they may unload what’s already on board because bed bugs can easily spread to other shipments and the truck itself.
Talk about an avoidable nightmare.
Don’t let this happen to you and your family on move day.
Instead, opt for peace of mind by –
- Thoroughly inspecting your items weeks before move day
- Calling a pest control professional if you find them
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to prepare to move when you have bed bugs?
Again, early detection and proactive eradication solutions are key. If you detect bed bugs, clean your home and household items thoroughly, then call in a professional exterminator to ensure they’re wiped out once and for all.
Do movers treat trucks and trailers for bed bugs?
Most professional moving companies periodically treat their equipment for pests like bed bugs and cockroaches. During the pre-move vetting process, don’t hesitate to ask about each company’s policy.
Last-Minute Tips for a Bed Bug Problem
- Check new homes and apartments for signs of bed bugs before signing leases and sales contracts.
- Check used furniture from thrift shops and yard sales before buying
- Read the labels on mattresses and box springs before treating them with insecticides
- If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, put clothes and bedding in plastic bags before packing them in moving boxes
- Clean infested items thoroughly by hand, and launder fabric items in the washing machine and dryer