WHERE DO BED BUGS HIDE?

Written by A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

Where do bed bugs hide? Bed bugs like to hide on your bed so they can take your blood. As the infestation grows, it will spread to other areas in the room. Because they are nocturnal and hide in tiny cracks and crevices on your bed, it can be a while before you know you have them. Understanding where they live and hide can help you stop a growing infestation in its tracks. 

Where Do Bed Bugs Usually Hide?

Even though bed bugs can hide in many different places, the infestation will begin in their primary harborage, which is your bed or wherever else you sleep or rest for extended periods, such as the couch.

adult bed bug hiding on seam between mattress and label
Adult bed bug hiding under the label on mattress

The infestation starts here in the tiny cracks and crevices because it allows bed bugs to hide unnoticed and have easy access to your blood when you are asleep. 

Why Do Bed Bugs Live in Beds?

Bed bugs are nocturnal, photophobic (they avoid light), and thigmotactic (they like direct contact with other surfaces), and the tiny spaces in your mattress and bed provide these making it ideal for them to hide and breed without being disturbed.

Bed bug survival depends on being able to hide undetected close to a host for blood meals, which explains why an estimated 70–85% of a bed bug infestation is on the mattress and mattress seams, the box spring, and bed frame.

This pest is also attracted to your blood which they need to survive and reproduce, but there are other attractants such as warmth and CO2 emitted from your body that draw them to you.

The bed bug population will spread away from your bed as it grows, but they prefer to stay within 3-6 feet of it because they can detect the attractants your body emits within this range.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide on Your Mattress and Box Spring?

Bed bugs usually live and hide as close to a food source as possible. Although they are secretive and cryptic, their harborages are predictable because they live in groups, are dependent on blood, and feed at night. 

On your mattress and box spring, you’ll find them along the seams and piping, behind tags, in tufts and folds and corners and creases, on corner protectors and decorative buttons. You get the idea! Basically, they’ll hide anywhere they can crawl into that is dark and they won’t be detected.

However, once the infestation starts to grow and they run out of space on the bed and surrounding area, they will spread out searching for other hiding spots and other people to feed on. This makes them and their hideouts less predictable and harder to treat. 

Spotting the signs of bed bugs early on is important so you can prevent this from happening.

Where else do bed bugs hide? Another common place for these nocturnal creatures to hide is on the headboard, where they make their way into folds in fabric, behind buttons, and behind and underneath the headboard.

The bed frame, either wood or metal, provides lots of cracks and crevices and screw holes for them to hide. They will also hide in the corners and joints of the frame.

As the population level increases, the remaining 15 – 30% of the infestation is found nearby, behind cabinets, underneath wallpaper, in carpets and upholstered furniture, on baseboards behind the bed, in floorboards, behind electrical switch plates, in furniture joints, as well as many other places.

These apple seed-shaped pests are the width of your credit card as they flatten their bodies to hide in tiny spaces, so if a crack in a wall can hold your card, then it can be a hiding and breeding area for them.

Can Bed Bugs Live on a Memory Foam Mattress?

Bed bugs are not fussy when it comes to mattresses, as they can live on a regular mattress or a memory foam mattress. They will also infest inside a mattress and box spring if there is a small hole or tear to crawl through.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide During the Day?

It is estimated bed bugs spend 90% of their lives hiding within the bed, only emerging to feed for short periods while we sleep and remain motionless.[1]

As they like to stay close to their host, you will find them hiding in all of the above places during the day and nighttime. 

You typically do not see bed bugs during the day, but when nighttime occurs the nocturnal pests leave their hiding places to feed when they detect heat and CO2 from you when you are asleep.

However, if they are hungry or if a person usually sleeps in the daytime, they will come out for a blood meal. Even if you’ve only found one bed bug crawling around during the day, this could indicate a heavily infested room.

As you don’t feel a bed bug bite, they can take their time and feed for between 5-10 minutes if they are not disturbed. The only time they attach themselves to a person is to feed.

Bed bugs do not live in your hair or hide on your body. After feeding, they immediately crawl back to their harborage, where they digest your blood, mate, and the females lay eggs. And the bed bug life cycle will continue until it is irradicated.

You can see photos of where they hide on our bed bugs pictures page.

Other Places Bed Bugs Hide

There are many more places where they hide but start by checking the bed for signs of bed bugs first.[2]

Another common harborage site is the couch. The reason bed bugs live in the couch and upholstered furniture is because you rest for long periods or sleep on them.  Another reason is if you are bitten in bed by bed bugs, and you move to the couch to sleep, unfortunately, these pests will soon find you there as well.

Here are some other example areas of where you’ll find bed bugs hiding:

  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Curtains
  • Furniture seams
  • Furniture screw heads. The image below shows how small they are as multiple bed bugs are hiding inside a screw head.
  • Laundry basket
  • Pet bedding
  • Car
  • Suitcases
  • Boxes
  • Mattress and box spring
  • Picture frames
  • Mirrors on walls
  • Inside, behind, and underneath dressers and nightstands
  • Closet
  • Briefcase
  • Cracks and crevices
  • Along and under carpet edging
  • Ceiling fixtures
  • Light fittings
  • Book spines
  • Smoke detectors
  • Electrical outlets and switch plates.
Where do bed bugs hide? Multiple bed bugs and eggs hiding in screw head
Multiple bed bugs in screw head. Image credit: Flickr.com/ Lou bugs pix

Evidence in Bed Bug Hiding Places

Although they can go undetected for long periods, there are some early signs that are clues they are in your home, such as:

  • Bloodstains on your bedding
  • Bed bug eggs,
  • Casings/shed skins
  • Dark fecal spots

If you look in the places above carefully enough, you will also find live bed bugs.

Another indication is the smell of bed bugs, which is the unpleasant musty odor from their scent glands. This is usually only detected when the infestation has grown large, but not everyone notices it.

Bed bugs get their name because they feed on you when you’re asleep in bed. But they can be found hiding in other places where people gather, they then find their way into your home through hitch-hiking in your backpack if you’ve used public transport, in your suitcase if you’ve stayed in a hotel that has bed bugs, or you’ve brought second-hand furniture items into your home.

It’s important to find out how you got bed bugs in the first place so you can prevent a reinfestation. 

You know where bed bugs hide now and that they can be hard to detect and get rid of, so it’s always best to call a professional pest control company to inspect your property and remove them for you. But this can be costly and not within everyone’s budget, so read my detailed guide on how to get rid of bed bugs when on a tight budget for advice on eliminating them yourself. 

[1] Mallis Handbook of Pest Control.

[2] https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3012/

I’ve been in the pest control industry helping people get rid of their unwanted pests for over 20 years, both in the UK and Canada.

As a licensed pest management professional, I’ve seen and treated just about every common household pest, insect, or rodent, you can think of. I’ve seen the damage caused when an infestation has been left too long and has become hard to get rid of.

For this reason, peststopsolutions.com was created. By having honest advice and the right guidance to hand, along with scientific evidence to back up claims, you are given information on the best eradication methods, as well as how to get rid of most pests yourself.