Bed bugs are not only a problem for one individual or one family. When they become a severe problem, they also start affecting others, even your neighbors. Bed bugs are not as fast as other insects, but they can move from room to other or from house to house.
They have various methods to infect new rooms in your house or new other places in your local neighborhood. You can find out more about it by reading down below the following sections as we discuss: How fast do bed bugs move? How do they infect new places? and how much does it take to spread to another room or another house?
How fast do bed bugs move and how DO they infect new places?
When they become adults, bed bugs can be visibly detected by the human eye without a problem. They are no more than 5 millimeters long (0.29 of an inch) and clearly visible because they crawl instead of flying or jumping. Since they do not have an alternative way to move, they are relatively slow compared to other insect pests.
On average, bed bugs move around 4 feet every minute. Indeed, this depends on the obstacles they have and the type of surface they are going through. At this pace, it takes a few minutes or hours to walk the distance between one room to the other, depending on how close they are. Reaching the neighbor’s house usually takes longer, but usually no more than two days.
To infect new places, bed bugs have several spreading methods. Crawling is the most common, but they can also attach to other people or travel in different home items.
- Crawling: It is the main form of transport bed bugs can adopt. They do not jump or fly, and usually don’t have a shortcut to go from one place to another. They typically crawl at night when they are more active, and you’re asleep. At this time, they usually travel from their hiding places to your bed, and only if they need fresh blood, which generally happens once a week for each bed bug. Even though they don’t have many transport shortcuts, bed bugs typically look for cracks in the walls and other ways to go from one room to another.
- Attaching to people: Bed bugs can attach to clothes, chairs, old or cracked furniture, bed mattresses, and other items where you sit or lay down. In a matter of minutes, they can easily attach your clothes and travel from one distant place to another in a very short time. Shoes and bags are other forms of transportation. That’s why people who visit an infested site should take out their clothes and apply heat to kill bed bugs before washing them thoroughly.
- Traveling in home items: Similarly, bed bugs can attach to home items and move from one distant place to another. If you move to another house, you may be carrying many bed bugs in your old furniture or mattresses. If you receive home items or donate, this can also become an opportunity for bed bugs to spread to a new location.
How fast do they spread?
After reading the above explanations, you may conclude that bed bugs spread as fast as they can find shortcuts from one place to the other. Yes, they are not extremely fast, but all it takes is one or two bed bugs who happened to be lucky and got transported to a new location. That’s enough to start a new infestation.
But considering how fast they move by themselves and how likely it is to move from one place to another, we can give you an estimate depending on the distances and other factors.
From one room to the other
Bed bugs can travel from one room to another, and it usually doesn’t take that much. They can actually hide in one place and crawl to the next room where the bed is located. They do this at night, at a pace of 3 or 4 feet per minute.
It could easily take 10-20 minutes, and they will reach your bed if they start crawling from the living room or the kitchen. Indeed, it depends on the distance and the obstacles they need to go through.
Nymphs and young bed bugs need frequent meals, and they are not as fast. Thus, adult bed bugs usually place eggs as close to human blood as they can. But if that’s not possible, bed bug nests can be in the next room, and it only takes a few minutes for them to start feeding on your blood.
If you don’t want bed bugs to spread from one room to the other, consider cleaning every room, inspecting the potential hiding spots, and treating your infestation with professional help if you feel it is starting to cause severe problems.
From one house to the other
In most cases, bed bugs travel to another room after they multiply and don’t have enough sources of blood. A severe infestation makes spread more likely to another house in the neighborhood. However, they can also travel from distant places because they are agile hitchhikers. It only takes to get one of them attached to your clothes from a hotel or public transportation, and they can potentially spread to your house.
In the neighborhood, they can spread through boxes, furniture, or thrash bags that cut the distance, and they do the rest by crawling. It is even easier to navigate from one floor to the other, and sometimes they use electric wiring and other means of transportation. The time they take to spread to another house is variable but more likely as the infestation worsens.
In any case, if you’d like to prevent the infestation in your own home or stop the spreading of bed bugs from your house to another place, the recommendations are similar to the above:
- Search for potential hiding places
- Reduce the clutter at home, and don’t hesitate to throw what you don’t need
- Keep your clothes and bedding clean. If possible, cover them in plastic after cleaning.
- Clean your house frequently, and if you have carpets, vacuum and throw the vacuum bag outside with a double bag
- Consider pesticides and other methods to control the pest if you see bed bugs crawling or have symptoms of bed bug bites.
Doggett, S. L., Miller, D. M., & Lee, C. Y. (Eds.). (2018). Advances in the biology and management of modern bed bugs. John Wiley & Sons.
Khan, H. R., & Rahman, M. M. (2012). Morphology and biology of the bedbug, Cimex hemipterus (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) in the laboratory. Dhaka University Journal of Biological Sciences, 21(2), 125-130.
Harlan, H. J. (2006). Bed bugs 101: the basics of Cimex lectularius. American Entomologist, 52(2), 99-101.