Can You Get Bed Bugs In Your Car?

September 23, 2015 by Doug Moore


The answer, unfortunately, has been obvious for some time.   Four recent customer experiences (all within the last month) provide evidence that the days of not worrying about a possible bed bug infestation in your car isn’t a good idea:

Instance 1:  We received a call from a mother whose child received bites while riding in the back seat of her car.  The child was bitten on her foot 3 times, and it wasn’t until a few minutes after the 3rd bite that the child felt an itching sensation on her foot.   This family was certain that the child did not have the bites before getting into the car.  When I met the family later that day, there was no doubt in my mind the bites were a classic triangular bed bug pattern.

Instance 2:  A woman noticed that there was a bug on her car door, but wasn’t sure what kind of bug it was.  She taped the bug to her door, and when I drove to her house, it was clearly an adult-size bed bug.

Instance 3:  In a situation where someone had a bed bug infestation in their home, his worries about his car became well-founded when we trapped a bed bug inside a Climb-Up Interceptor – utilizing vials of recently-fed bed bugs as the attractant.

Instance 4:  A passenger in a car noticed a bed bug on the shoulder of another passenger.

If you have developed a bed bug infestation, you can start to think of the ways you may have transported the bugs home with you, and your car will become one of the possibilities.   For that reason, a bed bug that has hitchhiked inside of your car may station itself there, and our experience is that a bed bug may not always be able to move quickly enough toward a person (or item) when given the chance.  Also, bed bugs inside a vehicle are not being subjected to extreme weather – bed bugs are generally able to survive in temperatures slightly above freezing, to 100 degrees or more, for extended periods of time.

That said, what action(s) can you take toward clearing your car of a possible infestation?   Without question, a part of your car treatment plan should include cleaning your car thoroughly, and vacuuming it just as thoroughly.

A very sensible option  would be to hire a company that can provide thermal heating of your vehicle’s interior.   If a company can safely heat the interior of your car to at least 118 degrees and maintain that heat throughout your car’s shaded and non-shaded areas for an extended period of time, it becomes an excellent solution.  Heat has proven to be the best method to remediate bed bugs.

If you chose a do-it-yourself option that involves spraying your car with pesticides, keep in mind that all insecticides are specifically labeled, and those instructions should be followed at all times.  Also, always protect your eyes, mouth, and hands while applying any insecticide.   Take every precaution to ensure you are not applying an insecticide that may leave behind an undesired stain on your vehicle’s upholstery.   Lastly, keep in mind that pesticides are not always effective – especially when they’re not coming into direct contact with the intended target.

For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.

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