How do bed bugs travel and spread

Despite of the fact that bed bugs do not transmit harmful diseases, they are one of the most disturbing pests in our urban environment.

There are numerous ways that we can introduce bed bugs into our properties, and since they do not usually spread from one property to another by themselves it is us humans, or the movement of our possessions, that becomes the carrier.

Bed bugs migrate from outside very rarely, although we have seen such cases. Typically, something like an infested mattress left outside for disposal, or even a piece of furniture such as a sofa or bed frame, can lead to the spread of bugs into a neighbouring property.

Bed bugs travel with our luggage in nearly all cases of introduction

However, in more than ninety percent of cases bed bugs spread with luggage. The little bloodsuckers have an uncanny knack of hitching a lift in suitcases, handbags and lap-top cases.

Once introduced into your property, the bugs conceal themselves in the smallest of cracks and crevices and await a chance to feed. They detect human presence by our carbon dioxide emissions, odour and body heat. They will follow us anywhere in the property to get a bite and typically do not hibernate in the presence of people, quite the opposite, they do not seem to be the slightest bit shy. Another interesting fact that should be considered is that twenty percent of all people do not react to bed bug bites so infestations can go unnoticed for some time.

Since bed bugs travel most frequently in our luggage let us look at typical scenarios in regard to their introduction:

- The most common cause that we uncover is bed bug infestations after recent travel, often abroad.

- Following this is the popular occurrence of bed bugs introduced after a stay at commercial premises or shared accommodation, such as hotels and hostels.

- We have sometimes found bed bugs transferred from schools, homes for the elderly, offices, from the lockers at work, and public transport including planes, trains and buses.

How do bed bugs recognise our luggage and how to reduce the risk

The species has evolved significantly in the last century, bed bugs have seemingly adapted to modern life and seem to be able to recognise our luggage by the human odour. Also, since our luggage does not release heat or carbon dioxide, the bugs to choose our personal belongings as a means of transport, not as a permanent home. Very rarely do they travel on our clothes, as they sense that we are awake or moving, so try to avoid our awake state and instead get into our luggage. Our advice is to travel with properly sealed or zipped piece of luggage. Once you return back home from a trip, inspect visually the suitcase or shake the travel bag on a surface where you could potentially spot the hitchhikers falling off the luggage.



Blago Manov

Managing Director of

Bed Bug Hunters & Prime Pest Control


Edited by:

Peter M. Cherry

BSc. (Hons) Biology

Director. Pests Birds and Bugs Ltd.