Unusual Ways Bed Bugs Can Spread to Your Home

The most common way for bed bugs to enter your home is on clothes or luggage belonging to someone who has recently spent time in an infested place, such as hotels, movie theatres or public transport.

But there are several less well-known ways in which these pesky parasites can spread to your home. For example, did you know you could catch bed bugs from old books that you pick up from the library or from a second-hand bookstore?

The American Library Association recently published advice for public libraries to help identity, eradicate and prevent bed bugs that might be hiding in books.

Bed bugs are often seen in the spine of the book, but their flat bodies also allow them to squeeze between pages, even when the book is closed. Because they’re so small, they can hide in tiny spaces, so you won’t necessarily notice that you’re carrying them home.

“Bed bugs are definitely attracted to inanimate objects that have narrow spaces that they can hide in,” said biologist Michael Draney from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

So next time you discover an interesting book, it might be a good idea to scan it for these tiny parasites. Flick through the pages while holding the book on its end to shake out any parasites, and also check the spine carefully.

Look for live bugs, shed skins and fecal staining on the pages. If you do find evidence of bed bugs, notify the library or bookstore immediately.

Another little-known way you could bring bed bugs home is via second-hand furniture. It’s essential to examine used furniture for the tell tale signs of bed bugs before you bring the item home.

To inspect the furniture, wear white latex gloves and bring a magnifying glass, flashlight, and a white sheet. Place the furniture on the sheet, and run your fingers over the furniture’s surfaces and edges. Use a credit card to sweep any cracks and grooves. If live bugs, eggs or dead skins fall out, you’ll see them on the white sheet.

Use the flashlight to examine any dark or inaccessible parts of the furniture, as these are the places where bugs love to hide. If you see any sign of bed bugs, don’t bring the furniture home until it has been properly treated.

To treat the furniture, vacuum all crevices and surfaces, and then spray down the item using a bed bug spray, making sure all areas and cracks are well covered. Allow to dry completely before bringing the furniture into your home.

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