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CAN YOU GET BED BUGS FROM YOUR NEIGHBORS?

By Chris Williams on November 13, 2017.

I think I might have bed bugs in my condo! Over the last three weeks, I’ve noticed a few strange bites on my arms and neck. I know that the neighbor across the hall had bed bugs but her unit was treated a week ago. Could her bed bugs have moved to my condo?

B. W., Concord, MA

The short answer to your question is yes, it’s possible. We’re only recently discovering how really good bed bugs are at moving into new areas. Researchers always suspected that bed bugs could move to the unit next door by following plumbing and electrical lines within walls, much as cockroaches do. As a result of marking bed bugs in apartments and tracking them to see where they ended up, researchers now know that bed bugs (if left unchecked) can spread through an apartment building from a simple beginning in just one unit. Bed bugs follow pipes and wires into units next door, above, and below, but they can also simply walk under the front door and head down the hallway to other units.

BED BUGS MOVE OFTEN IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT

An adult bed bug can travel about four feet in a minute. They do most of their migrating at night and are prompted to move on if their host person is no longer present (on vacation or moved out) or if the bed bug population gets too large. Adult female bed bugs are the most likely to migrate.

Often, bed bugs don’t even need to use their own energy to reach new locations. They are notorious hitchhikers and will crawl into purses, backpacks, totes, etc. and are then carried to a new home. If you visited your neighbor across the hall, or she visited you, it’s always possible that a bed bug went along for the ride (see Bed Bugs Don’t Arrive in Swarms). If that bed bug was a female with eggs and she moved in a few weeks ago, you could now have your own bed bug infestation.

HAVE A PROFESSIONAL INSPECT FOR BED BUGSS

You need to know, though, that skin irritation from other insect bites and even skin conditions can be confused with bed bug bites (see Six Signs That You Might Have Bed Bugs?). You need a professional inspection to determine if you do indeed have bed bugs in your condo. If your management company provides pest control services, contact them first. If not, contact Colonial Pest. Overlooking bed bugs in multi-family buildings can cause extensive and long-term problems.

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