Can Bed Bugs Fly or Jump to Get Around?

Bed bugs are infamous for their ability to hide in dark places. They’re tiny, they’re hard to spot, and they can really make your life miserable. But bed bugs are actually quite unique compared to other insects as they can only crawl and cannot jump or fly like other pests. There’s a reason for this. Bed bugs are wingless, and their legs are not built for jumping. So, they rely on their crawling ability to get around.

Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

Why can’t bed bugs jump?

Unlike fleas, bed bug legs are not adapted for jumping. The front pair of legs are shorter and more suited for walking than jumping.

Bed bugs and fleas are often mistaken for each other as they both feed on blood and leave itchy bite marks. However, fleas prefer the blood of animals, so they tend to be found on pets, while bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood and tend to be found where we sleep or rest for long periods.

The other difference between these two parasites is that fleas can jump, so if you see a jumping insect, it’s definitely not a bed bug and likely a flea. Look at these images of bed bugs so you can see exactly what they look like.

On the other hand, a flea’s legs are long, and the back pair are specially adapted for jumping; a flea can jump vertically up to 18 cm (7 in) and horizontally up to 33 cm (13 in), according to Wikipedia.

size of adult bed bug with wing pads
Adult bed bug with wing pads.

Why can’t bed bugs fly?

Bed bugs are not able to fly because they do not have wings like other insects. But they do have tiny wing pads (vestigial wings) that don’t actually function, just behind the pronotum that protects the head.

The lack of functional wings is believed to be the result of evolution. Bed bugs likely evolved from winged ancestors, but as they adapted to feeding on a host close by, their wings became unnecessary and eventually ceased to function.

As bed bugs typically only have to travel short distances to get a blood meal, they don’t really need to be able to fly.

Because they lack wings, they also cannot glide like some types of cockroaches. They cannot swim either. But they can walk and climb, and they can quickly move across walls and ceilings. This allows them to reach their preferred hiding spots, which, as you know, are close to where you sleep.

While these pests are not able to fly, they can still pose a serious threat. They can latch onto clothing and crawl into luggage, especially if it has dirty laundry in it, and get taken back into your home and start an infestation.

Can bed bugs Jump or fly for short distances?

Bed bugs are not capable of flight or jumping even short distances. With non-functioning wings and legs that are not built for jumping, they have to rely on their crawling ability to get around.

Do bed bugs spread by jumping from person to person?

Thankfully, bed bug infestations are not started by the bed bug jumping from one individual and attaching itself to another. However, these pests are very small, so it’s easy to miss one crawling into your luggage or onto your scarf, for example.

They’re excellent hitchhikers, and crawling instead of jumping like fleas or flying like mosquitoes is how these parasites travel.

How do bed bugs move around?

You now know that these little blood-feeding insects cannot fly or jump and their only way of getting around is by crawling, However, they can still travel long distances and are transported by us and our belongings!

Of course, there are many other ways they enter our homes, and it just takes one bed bug to start an infestation, and once that one bed bug is in, you’ve got a potential problem on your hands.

Given the right surfaces, such as wood, cardboard, and bed linens, bed bugs can crawl up to around 4 feet per minute. If they need a blood meal, it won’t take them that long to find you and crawl up onto your bed.

However, they can’t grip and traverse slick, plastic surfaces as their feet are not able to maintain any grip, so the use of bed bug interceptors under each leg of the bed is one way of stopping any new bed bugs from climbing up to feed.

Do bed bugs jump or move when you touch them?

Even when they are disturbed and alarmed, they cannot jump, but they can move at a rate of around 2 cm per second when trying to scurry away to the safety of a nearby crack or crevice.

How far can bed bugs crawl?

The common bed bug can be transported long distances as mentioned above, whether that’s by hitchhiking in our luggage after staying in a hotel that has bed bugs, in secondhand furniture items, or when taking public transportation.

These highly mobile creatures can also spread quickly through cracks and crevices in walls or floors in your home and between apartments.

And once inside, they will soon make their way to where you sleep, as they are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide given off by you, in addition to many other things.

As bed bug infestations are mainly found near or around where we sleep, they typically live and travel within 8 feet of the bed. However, in heavier infestations, they can travel over 100 feet to feed.[1]

The bug does not fly or jump, only crawls

If the bug you’ve found in your home, especially around the bed area, does not fly or jump but only crawls, it could be a bed bug and should be dealt with immediately to avoid a potential infestation.

These pests are difficult to get rid of once they establish themselves, so it is essential to take action as soon as possible.

If you think you may have bed bugs, there are a few things you can do to check, including looking for signs of bed bug activity on your bed, such as blood stains or small black dots. You can get more detailed information on the signs of bed bugs and where to look here.

You might also be interested in getting rid of bed bugs without an exterminator, which details the step-by-step process. But it is always best to call a pest control professional to confirm that you have this pest and then use the most effective bed bug treatments to remove them.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html