Do Bed Bugs Jump? & Other Bed Bug Myths

Do bed bugs jump?

Does alcohol kill bed bugs? Are home remedies effective to get rid of bed bugs? These are just a few of the questions we get at the Bed Bug Adviser every day. Here’s the most common myths that persist about bed bugs… know them before you start treatment:

Myth #1:  Bed bugs jump! Or not.

We hear this one all the time. No, bed bugs don’t jump. They don’t have wings, and although they might manage to fall from your bed to the floor, they can only crawl back up. That’s why those “bed bug interceptors” are so popular – but also ineffective, unless you’re covering the only route a bug has to the thing you want to protect.

Myth #2:  Bed bugs are invisible.

Bed bugs are actually easy to see – but they’re very hard to find.  An adult bed bug is about the size of an apple seed and even the developing nymph, while smaller and translucent, can be seen after feeding. However, bed bugs are notoriously good at hiding, often squeezing into spaces as thin as a credit card. They’ll flee from any sign of movement – making it really hard to find them when you’re moving around to look for them.

Myth #3:  Rubbing alcohol – or sprays – can kill bed bugs.

This is a popular DIY solution – but very flawed. Short answer: Don’t do it. Long answer: If you can manage to get rubbing alcohol or sprays directly onto a bed bug, you will kill it; in fact, you can kill bed bugs by putting all sorts of things, including hand soap, on them. The issue isn’t killing the bugs, it’s finding them in the first place – just the fumes won’t kill them. Rarely, if ever, will you be able to kill every single bug using this method.

Most importantly, though, rubbing alcohol is extremely flammable – and there are many instances of people setting fire to themselves, their car, and their homes.  It is much safer to leave treatments up to a professional. Or at the very least, don’t use a dangerous treatment like alcohol.

Myth #4:  Bed bugs only live in your bed.

Bed bugs are attracted to your bed because they are attracted to the carbon dioxide that you emit when you exhale while sleeping.  In essence, this carbon dioxide serves as a dinner bell, leading them straight to you. As with all insects, bed bugs will lay their eggs in places that are safe and near an available food source.  Yes, this can be in your mattress and box springs, but it can also be in your headboard, bed frame, nightstand, behind surrounding walls and baseboards, or in any other small space that is in close proximity to your bed.  Furthermore, because bed bugs will feed on anyone who is sedentary for several hours at a time, other pieces of furniture where people might lounge or sleep such as sofas and recliners are also likely targets.

Myth #5: Bed bugs are nocturnal.

It’s easy to think that bed bugs are nocturnal. After all, they do tend to move more at night – and we all know the horror stories about waking up with those 3 telltale bites in a row. But bed bugs aren’t truly nocturnal – they’re just averse to movement. They know their best chance is to avoid human attempts to kill them, so they stop moving when they hear movement.

In fact, bed bugs have no preference for day or night and don’t care much about light one way or the other.

The only exception to the “movement” rule? Large infestations. Those will move simply because some of the bed bugs need to find a new place to hang out – and there’s so many of them, they’ve stopped being scared of your human presence. (This is bad! Call an exterminator. [LINK TREATMENT ARTICLE])

Myth #6:  I can handle bed bugs on my own.

It’s happened! But it’s rare. If you have the chance to find the bugs and kill them before they’ve had the chance to breed, you might be able to beat them yourself. Successful self-treatment stories represent less than half of 1% of all attempts.  In almost every situation, the few bugs that you see are a sign of a much larger problem that you cannot see. Attempting to treat an infestation yourself can, at best, waste time and money, and in worst-case scenarios can drive the bugs further into a space where they are harder to treat, potentially spreading them to other rooms or adjoining properties.  Pest management professionals (or PMP’s, a better name for what we used to call exterminators) have the knowledge and experience to rid your home of bed bugs once and for all. [LINK TREATMENT ARTICLE]

Myth #7:  Bed bugs spread disease.

It seems as though bed bugs would spread disease based on the way that they feed but they do not.  Unlike mosquitos that expel as well as intake when feeding, bed bugs only ingest their meal. Even in controlled lab situations where bed bugs have been injected with various diseases and then allowed to feed it has been shown that no disease is spread.

They do, however, tend to affect your mental health. Read more about bed bug PTSD – and how to treat it – here. [EMBED HEALTH ARTICLE]

Myth #8:  Bed bugs are a dirty person’s problem.

While a bed bug infestation might be more difficult to detect and treat in a cluttered home, there is absolutely no indication that they are attracted to filth.  Bed bugs are equal opportunity feeders – they like your blood, not your discarded takeout containers. If you are a human being, you and your home are just as likely a target as anyone. Keeping your place clean won’t stop bed bugs.

Myth #9:  Nice apartments and fancy hotels don’t get bed bugs.

Like we said, bed bugs are equal opportunity feeders. The most important risk factor for bed bugs has nothing to do with class, money, or poverty – it’s how many people come in and out of the hotel or apartment. That’s why we recommend traveling with our TravelGuard Bite Barrier; hotels are notoriously vulnerable to bed bugs just because of the constant foot traffic, and even five star resorts aren’t immune to bed bug complaints.

Don’t believe me? Check the user-submitted bed bug reports on – the site is somewhat defunct these days, but you can still see the variety of hotels that pop up in user complaints. Search “bed bug” in TripAdvisor under any city, and you’ll see more than a few reviews that mention them, from guests who stayed at fancy hotels, seedy motels, and everything in between.

Myth #10: You can see bed bug bites

Not always. In fact, only about 4% – 25% of people bitten by bedbugs will have a reaction to the bug’s bite; for the other 75%, they won’t see the bugs at all.

Look for other signs to correctly ID bedbugs. Start with our identification guide, right here

How to tell if you have bed bugs

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