Yes, this is a thing. A surprisingly common, deeply upsetting thing. Bed bugs can and will infiltrate your car. Under some circumstances, they can even live there for an extended period of time. They could even use your car as a personal taxi to infest your home and wherever else you travel.
Before you resolve never to drive again, there are a few things you should know. Yes, bed bug car infestations are possible, but they’re not common. Usually, your car is simply a convenient way for bed bugs to get to their real destination: your home. By keeping bed bugs out of your car, you’ll help keep them out of your home, too. Here’s what you need to know to do that.
How They Got in Your Car
It happens far more often than anyone thinks. In fact, the number one way bed bugs spread from place-to-place is by traveling with people. Bed bugs are consummate hitchhikers. It has to do with their natural behavior: bed bugs seek out dark, secluded, warm, and hidden places. Once they find these places, they hunker down and remain motionless for long periods of time. Often, bed bug hiding places turn out to be items people are transporting, like luggage.
Bed bugs might stay in their hiding places for awhile, but they have to come out eventually. Usually, they’re able to stay put long enough for you to transport them inside. Once they’re in your home, they can migrate to a nearby bed or other ideal hunting ground. If they can’t wait that long, they may migrate to new hiding places inside your car. If bed bugs can feed, they can grow and reproduce in your car, just like they could in your bed.
Why They’re In Your Car
Bed bugs in your car probably got there by hiding on something you carried inside. Bed bugs can attach to virtually anything, but they’re attracted to certain items more than others. They often hide inside luggage, bags, or boxes, especially packages that are filled with fabric or other warm materials. They’ll also cling to loose fabric like clothing, blankets, towels and other cloth. You brought these materials into your car without noticing bed bugs hiding on or inside them.
Bed bugs probably snuck onto these transported materials while they were inside another infested structure. You set down your luggage in an infested hotel (for instance), and then bed bugs climbed inside it. When you set that luggage in your car, bed bugs crawled out of it and into your car. From there, they probably snuck into the same kind of hidden, dark, warm places as always. They’ll remain in these hiding places until they need to feed.
Why They’re a Problem
Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don’t require beds to be active. They can survive and thrive anywhere as long as they have access to food. Unfortunately, that could include your car. Bed bugs may rarely feed on passengers during long car trips. They attach to extremities like ankles, wrists, and feet. Many people don’t feel bed bugs feeding, because bed bug saliva contains an anesthetic that makes their bites painless.
Bed bugs must feed continuously for hours, so they probably won’t survive in cars for very long. Unfortunately for you, they probably also won’t just stay in your car. Once bed bugs infiltrate your vehicles, it’s very easy for them to get inside your home. All they have to do is cling to anything you leave in the cabin of your car and wait. Once inside, they’ll spread out and start feeding and reproducing as always. You might inadvertently spread your car bed bugs to locations other than your home, as well.
What You Can Do About Them
First and foremost, you should call a professional pest control company. Unfortunately, bed bugs are quite difficult to control yourself. Bed bugs are great at spreading out and hiding. They also lay a lot of very small, translucent eggs and hide them very well. After you call a pest company, you should thoroughly clean your car. Vacuum the interior as thoroughly as you possibly can. Wash the carpets, mats, seats, and doors. Make sure you get every nook and cranny.
Next, you should thoroughly inspect everything you keep in your car. This includes any clothing, blankets, or even paper products. Wash and dry these items as thoroughly as possible. If you find bed bug evidence on them, consider throwing them away. When you replace infested things, consider storing them in airtight plastic. Always pay attention to what you’re transporting in and out of your car. If you worried you might be carrying bed bugs around, don’t let them in your car!
We know: this blog is a bummer. There’s really no getting around that. Thinking about bed bugs in your car is upsetting. The bright side (if you could call it that) is that you can do something about them. If you wipe out the bed bugs in your car, you can keep them from getting into your home.
If you need some help combating bed bugs in your car OR home, give Griffin a call any time. Our experts have plenty of experience with bed bug infestations of all kinds. We’ve never met one we couldn’t wipe out. Safe travels!