November 6, 2023

Can you get bed bugs through the mail from boxes and packages? 

Can you get bed bugs through the mail from boxes and packages? 

With the holiday season and online deals upon us, you may be having a lot of boxes and packages sent to your home with gifts and other things for you and your loved ones. Something you may be wondering, though, is if you can get bed bugs through the mail from those boxes and packages?

Can you get bed bugs through the mail from boxes and packages? 

Unfortunately, yes, it is possible

Bed bugs enjoy hiding in comfortable, dark enclosed spaces – which can include your mail, especially if the item you receive has been used or is a return from a bed bug infested home. 

Bed bugs can live for months without a human blood meal so bed bugs through the mail being sent in packages and envelopes can indeed survive the long journey from the sender to your home. As well, bed bugs are very temperature resilient, capable of surviving extreme cold and heat. The colder weather of wintertime isn’t a deterrent to them and it often doesn’t even get cold enough, especially here in Ohio, to kill them. 

How to avoid getting bed bugs through the mail

There are a few things you can do to prevent accidentally infesting your home with bed bugs.

  • Open your mail outside of your home, carefully inspecting the package or envelope, and its contents before disposing of any paper or cardboard waste in your outdoor garbage or recycling bins. Absolutely DO NOT open items in your bedroom or place packages or unchecked items on or near your bed or where you sleep. 
  • Double-check your items were shipped in new condition, if that is how you bought the item. Many big online retailers that offer free returns aren’t very diligent about thoroughly inspecting products and will reship previously used products back out to customers. This can include items that have been used or opened in a residence where there is a serious bed bug infestation! 
  • As with avoiding bed bugs when shopping in person, you should avoid or take special care when buying certain items in used condition from online sellers. Particular care should be taken with items like refurbished or second-hand items like furniture, purses, luggage, and clothing, as these items are notorious for harboring hungry bed bugs. 
  • You should also be careful to inspect items that may have been marked as new but were returned from bed bug infested homes through big online retailers, especially with items like bags (luggage and purses) and bedding (including blankets, throws, mattress protectors, and pillows). Thoroughly inspect the packaging and make note of the item’s condition before bringing it inside of your home. 

There are also some things you can do to prevent bed bugs through the mail that are just standard practice for avoiding bed bugs, in general, including: 

  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce easy hiding places for bed bugs
  • Vacuum regularly to get rid of any successful hitchhiking bed bugs
  • Use a white or light colored protective mattress cover that completely encloses your entire mattress with a zip closure. The light color helps make bed bugs and their notorious black fecal spots easier to see and identify. The zip closure can help protect your mattress to make it easier to control bed bugs should you find yourself with an infestation. 
  • Be mindful if you use a shared laundry facility. Transport items to and from your laundromat in plastic bags that can be sealed shut. Remove items from the dryer directly into a fresh plastic bag and fold your laundry at home. Washing and drying items with high heat and using borax when washing your laundry can also help. High heat can kill bed bugs. Borax works by damaging the exoskeleton of bed bugs, dehydrating and killing the bugs it comes into contact with. 

How to check if you got bed bugs through the mail

If you do happen to get bed bugs through the mail, the earlier you find them, the better. Early identification can help you treat a minor infestation before it becomes established or spreads throughout your home and is far less costly and easier to treat.

Where to check for bed bugs

Bed bugs are usually found where people spend most of their time inside of their home, often in living areas and bedrooms. Since bed bugs have flat bodies, they can squeeze into very small, tight spaces. Anywhere around your home where there’s a crack or crevice that’s wide enough to squeeze a credit card through, is wide enough for a bed bug to squeeze their bodies into. They particularly enjoy such types of small, undisturbed hiding places, too, so it’s important to check every nook and cranny around your home when searching for bed bugs.

Here are some common places where you might find bed bugs hiding:

  • In the folds, piping, seams, or tags of your mattress, box spring or bedding
  • Within cracks or joints of your bed frame
  • Along or inside your headboard
  • In the seams or between the cushions of chairs or couches
  • In the folds of fabric curtains
  • In the joints of furniture (such where the legs of a chair join or between the joints of a bedside table drawer)
  • In or around outlet cover plates
  • Under loose wallpaper or behind wall hangings, pictures, or paintings
  • Around bedroom window or door frames

Common signs of bed bugs in your home

  • Reddish stains on your bed sheets (caused by crushed bed bugs)
  • Dark (brown or black) spots on your bedding that are about the size of this bullet point: • (these spots are bed bug excrement)
  • Small pale yellow eggs
  • Live bed bugs (this is usually a very tell-tale sign that you have bed bugs. Something to note is that if you notice live bed bugs during times when you wouldn’t normally be asleep, such as during the daytime, you may have a severe infestation as hungry bed bugs are active bed bugs)

Bed Bug Behavior

Understanding how bed bugs behave, including how they eat, live, and reproduce, can be incredibly beneficial in helping you detect and find them early.

Bed Bug Feeding

  • Bed bugs tend to prefer feeding on human hosts but they are also very opportunistic creatures, meaning they will feed on other mammals (like household pets, including dogs and cats) and even pet birds.
  • They can and will travel 5-20 feet away from their hiding places for the opportunity to feed
  • Bed bugs are primarily active at night, when their hosts are sleeping and their meals are more easy for them to acquire. If hungry, however, they will seek hosts during the day when their hosts are more active. Daytime activity can, unfortunately, be a sign of severe infestation, indicating there’s a large population of bed bugs not opportunistically feeding during nighttime when you’re asleep.
  • A bed bugs blood meal can take between 3-12 minutes. They typically feed every 3-10 days.
  • When a bed bug feeds, they often leave behind a trail of multiple bites, between 3 to 5 bites that may appear in a straight line or zigzag pattern. These bites are often mistaken for mosquito, flea, or spider bites because they cause itchy red welts similar to such bites. The biggest indication that it’s a bed bug bite is the cluster of 3 to 5 bites that appear in a straight or zigzag line versus a single bite or singular bites that appear randomly across the body. Bed bug bites are also commonly found on parts of the body more likely to be exposed during sleep, such as the hands, arms (forearms), neck, face (cheeks), shoulders, and legs (ankles). For people who sleep on their stomach or side, bites may be on the back of the neck, shoulders, or back.
  • Rusty or tarry spots that are about the size of a bullet point, • , on sheets often indicate active blood feeding. Adults and large nymphs will often ‘void the remains’ of (poop out) earlier blood meals while they’re actively feeding.

Bed Bug Life Stages

  • Bed bugs need to have at least 1 blood meal before they can continue their life cycle
  • Each female bed bug is capable of laying 1 to 5 eggs PER DAY and 200-500 eggs during her entire lifetime (which could be anywhere between 6-12 months). This one of the reasons why bed bugs are so difficult to deal with and get rid of!
  • It can take as little as 4 to 5 weeks up to 4 to 6 months for bed bugs to transition from eggs to nymphs to adult bed bugs. Because their life cycle can be so short, this means that females can quickly start reproducing more and more bed bugs. This is another reason why bed bugs are so difficult to control!

Another Fact About Bed Bugs

  • Bed bugs are incredibly resilient against cold temperatures. They are, however, a lot more sensitive to heat. Adult bed bugs die when their internal body temperature reaches 113-119 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why heat can be a very effective solution against bed bugs.

Worried you got bed bugs through the mail?

Give go2-pros pest control a call. Our experienced exterminators can help you identify the signs of a bed bug infestation before it gets out of hand. We offer a free inspection and evaluation, which includes bed bug treatment recommendations for a treatment plan that best fits your needs and budget. Our bed bug treatments, including heat treatment and other services, are safe, budget-friendly and effective in killing bed bugs. Call now to schedule your free bed bug inspection. 

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