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Travel is widely recognized as the most common cause of bed bug infestations. Often unbeknownst to the traveler, bed bugs will hitchhike on people, clothing, luggage, or other personal belongings and be accidentally transported to other properties.
Bed bugs can easily go unnoticed by humans. As small, wingless insects with flattened bodies, they can hide in tight, secluded spaces that are often out of sight, such as behind headboards or deep in upholstered furniture. Their flat bodies also help to protect them from being smashed if one of their hosts rolls over onto them in the middle of the night.
Although bed bugs prefer to remain hidden, they will move out of their hiding spaces to feed when a host is nearby. But even then, bed bugs are cautious about their actions. To avoid detection, the reddish-brown insects typically wait until the middle of the night before moving towards a host for a blood meal. When they bite, they inject their victim with a mild anesthetic to help them remain unnoticed while they feed.
It is important to note that unlike flies, bed bugs are not attracted to decay or organic build-up matter found in filthy areas. They are found anywhere that their foodsource, human blood, is available. Therefore, the association of bed bugs with messy and dirty spaces is a myth. Learn more about this age old misconception here.
Alongside food poisoning and lost luggage, bed bugs are a top concern for travelers. Lack of awareness and the “it will never happen to me” attitude have greatly contributed to the spread of bed bugs - or ‘travel bugs,’ as they may be dubbed one day in the future. Increased global travel is often cited as one of the biggest contributing factors to the increase in bed bug infestations in the U.S., having made a resurgence around the world in the last decade.
Bed bugs are a major source of stress for both businesses and private homes. Once a problem primarily for hotels, today many types of businesses experience problems with bed bugs including colleges and universities, hospitals, retail stores, movie theaters, libraries, and more.
Another common cause of bed bugs is the popularity of second hand furniture. Bed bugs can often be introduced to a property when an infested piece of furniture is brought into a business.
Likewise, rental furniture can also be to blame if it is rented to a property where bed bugs are present and then inadequately inspected upon its return before being rented out again. Bed bugs can survive for many months without a blood meal, so simply isolating an infested piece of furniture will not get rid of bed bugs.