Do Bed Bugs Jump?

Can bed bugs jump? Well, they can certainly give you the heebie-jeebies. The idea of having bugs in your bed is disturbing, and worrying about whether they can jump or fly and land on you can be even more bothersome. We’ve got good news and bad news when it comes to whether bed bugs can jump:

  • Bed bugs do not jump. Whew!
  • They also don’t fly, which is even better news.
  • They can crawl, though. That’s how they get around.
  • And they’re great at hiding, so you might not know you have them.
  • Oh, and did we mention that they bite?

Don’t worry, though! We’ve got the information you need to keep these creepy crawlies away from you and your bed.

Can Bed Bugs Jump?

We know that bed bugs don’t jump or fly, which is a relief. They don’t have wings, and they don’t have strong back legs that would enable jumping. 

What they do is crawl. They shimmy along surfaces that are partially or completely hidden, such as along the seams of mattresses, across the back of headboards, and in the grooves of a bed frame. They can scurry pretty quickly, so if you see one in motion, you might need to move fast to catch it. At night, they emerge from their hiding places to feed on whomever is sleeping nearby.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread?

If bed bugs can’t jump, then, you might wonder how they manage to spread so easily. The answer is that they hitch a ride to wherever they end up. 

Here’s how it works:

An unsuspecting person spends some time at a home or business establishment that has a bed bug infestation. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to sleep there; bed bugs can be hiding in chairs, carpeting, couches… you get the idea. Maybe you put your purse or briefcase on the floor or on an upholstered chair. A female bed bug crawls into your bag.

When you get home, you put the bag on your bedroom floor, where the bug emerges, saunters over to your bed or some other furniture, and lays some eggs. Females can lay up to seven eggs daily. If a male bug accompanied her on her journey, you can see how this will lead to an infestation in no time at all.

Those eggs hatch about two weeks later, and you’ve got yourself a few (or a lot of) bed bugs. They multiply quickly. 

Then you invite a friend over, who places her coat on your bed. You see where this is going. Bed bugs spread rapidly with no jumping or flying necessary.

What Jumping Insects Look Like Bed Bugs?

If you’ve encountered a brownish bug on your bed that’s jumping or flying, the good news is that it’s not a bed bug. The bad news is that you have an unidentified bug in your bed. Here are some of the possibilities as to what it might be:

  • Carpet beetles. These can fly, but they don’t look too much like bed bugs. They’re hairier and have a patterned appearance. They also won’t usually hang out in your bed unless they land there temporarily.
  • Fleas. Fleas are smaller than bed bugs, but they’re brown or black and they do jump. Fleas typically don’t live on human blood, so an infestation is more likely if you have furry pets. 
  • Spider beetles. These are about the same size as bed bugs and they’re brown, but they tend to be rounder and glossier. They also don’t bite. They can fly, however. They usually live where there’s old or rotted wood, so if you live in a wood home that might have some damage or rot, this might be your bug.
  • Stink bugs. These pungent critters live up to their name and emit a smelly substance if they feel threatened. They’re brown and they fly. These bugs usually go into houses in the winter when it’s too cold outside.

Do I Have Bed Bugs?

If you’ve determined that the bugs you’ve seen are not flying or jumping, now it’s time to think about whether they’re actually bed bugs. We have a fairly comprehensive guide on how to check for bed bugs that you should look at.

To summarize that process, you’re going to want to look for telltale signs (rust-colored spots on the sheets, insect shells/casings, and actual live bugs in hidden crevices. 

In addition, bed bugs have a specific biting pattern that’s different from many other insects. If you get bitten by a mosquito or a spider, you’ll generally have a bite here and there in no discernible pattern. When you are bitten by bed bugs, however, the bites will usually show up in a line, a cluster, or a zig-zag pattern. They don’t just bite you once and get on with their day; instead, they bite, walk a little, bite, walk a little, and so on. 

Bed bug bites can be quite itchy and they can take a week or two to clear up. If you have an infestation, you probably won’t get all of your bites in one day, though, so you’ll see clusters popping up on exposed skin over a period of time. These bites typically don’t get infected and very rarely cause a serious allergic reaction. They’re unpleasant, though, so you’ll want to get the issue taken care of sooner rather than later.

What Should I Do If I Have Bed Bugs?

Once you’ve determined that the insects plaguing you are, in fact, bed bugs, there are some steps you’ll want to take immediately. 

First, strip your bed. Toss the sheets in the wash on high. Once they’re done, put them in the dryer on high and put your blankets and comforter in the washing machine. Now isn’t the time to try to save energy by using your clothesline; the sun won’t kill bed bugs or their eggs. Put the items in the dryer.

Next, use your vacuum cleaner on the mattress, paying special attention to the seams and edges. Take off the mattress and do the same with the box spring or platform. If you can, remove that and vacuum all of the nooks and crannies around the frame. Finally, vacuum the carpet.

Will this process remove all of the bed bugs? No, it will not. But it will buy you a little time (as in a day or two) before a professional exterminator comes to take care of the problem. 

Can you DIY bed bug remediation? Probably not. It would be possible if you were willing to vacuum very frequently while also using chemicals, but keep this in mind: An exterminator is well-practiced at using chemical pesticides safely. They will also usually guarantee their work for some period of time. Using substances like vinegar, bleach, or rubbing alcohol is not effective and will just prolong the problem.

In conclusion, if you see insects in your bed that are jumping or flying, they’re not bed bugs. Crawling bugs that bite you in a zig-zag or clustered pattern very well might be. Bed bugs are yucky, but they’re not dangerous in the vast majority of cases. Consulting a professional will help you mitigate the problem sooner rather than later.

Will Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

When faced with the problem of bed bugs, it’s natural to look around your home to figure out what you can use to kill them quickly. Most people have isopropyl rubbing alcohol in their medicine cabinets, which is great for disinfecting surfaces and cleaning out certain wounds. But is it good for stopping a bed bug infestation in its tracks? Here are some fast facts:

  • Rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact.
  • It can’t eliminate an infestation, however.
  • There are some dangers to using rubbing alcohol.
  • There are more effective ways of eliminating bed bugs.

Will Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs Instantly?

The quick answer to this question is yes, sometimes. If you were to apply the chemical to live bed bugs or their eggs, it’s likely to kill them. It isn’t completely effective in killing live bugs or eggs, however. It’s also ineffective to spray it on your mattress in terms of ending an infestation.

When it comes to bed bugs, you’re only seeing a fraction of the total number of insects. There are also eggs to think about. If you see a live bed bug and you successfully kill it with rubbing alcohol, you’re not solving the problem of all of the other bugs (and eggs) hiding in places you can’t see. 

So while you might be able to kill some live bed bugs with an application of rubbing alcohol, you aren’t going to be able to get it into all of the cracks and crevices where they’re hiding. Since bed bugs reproduce extremely quickly, it takes a concerted effort and often professional extermination to truly solve the problem.

Is It Safe to Use Rubbing Alcohol on Bed Bugs?

In general, rubbing alcohol is safe to use in small amounts. When you use it in large amounts, however, such as if you spray an entire mattress with the alcohol, you’re exposing yourself to fumes that could be dangerous. 

If you get it on your skin in small amounts, such as when cleaning a piercing or a scratch, that’s safe. If you pour it on in copious amounts, though, you’ll dehydrate your skin, which can make it dry and irritated. This isn’t much of a danger, but you should keep it in mind if you’re getting the liquid on yourself while spraying or pouring it on live bugs.

Finally, alcohol is extremely flammable. Not only is the liquid itself prone to catching on fire, but so are the vapors. So never use it in a room with an open fire, such as a fireplace, as this is extremely unsafe.

What Are Some Other Home Remedies for a Bed Bug Infestation?

People often ask if rubbing alcohol or bleach can be used to kill bed bugs, and the answer is generally the same: You can kill individual bugs, but you cannot get to the root of the problem and end an infestation. If you kill a few bugs that you find on your mattress, it isn’t going to make much of a difference when it comes to how many bites you get or whether there are bugs living in and around your bed.

There are really no good home remedies to completely eliminate a bed bug infestation, but there are some measures you can take to reduce the number of bugs before and during professional extermination.

First, physically remove as many bugs as you can. Strip the bed and put the sheets and blankets directly in the washing machine. Use the hottest setting to wash them, then dry them on high heat. The heat will kill the bugs and most of the eggs.

Then vacuum the mattress, focusing on creases and corners. Pull the mattress off and vacuum the box spring and all around the bed frame. Move the bed frame away from the wall and use the hose attachment to get all of the nooks and crannies between the baseboard and floor and in any corners. Finally, vacuum the rest of the room. If you have other upholstered furniture (such as a sofa or chair) in the room, then vacuum that, too. 

This process will kill many of the bed bugs and eggs, though it’s unlikely to remove them all. You can use a mattress cover that encases the entire mattress to prevent bites from the bugs that will hatch from the eggs left over in the mattress.

How Can I Be Sure That I Have Bed Bugs?

Seeing any creepy crawlies on your bed is stressful, but not all of them are necessarily bed bugs. There are a few things you can look for to determine if the bugs you see are actually bed bugs or just bugs in your bed:

  • Bites that are in a cluster or a line. Bed bugs don’t bite once and wander away; they bite several times in one area, often in a line or a zigzag pattern.
  • Spots of human blood on the sheets (usually from squished bed bugs that have just dined on you).
  • Spots of bed bug excrement. This looks like brown or rust-colored dots. 
  • Pieces of bug skin. This looks like you’d imagine an insect exoskeleton to look. It can resemble flakes or material that looks a bit like the shell of a popcorn kernel.

You’ll find these signs on your sheets but also in the areas where they hide. When checking your mattress, focus on the seams on the edges and corners, for example. These bugs will also tend to hide in and around the bed frame and in crevices of the headboard. They might be on the floor under the bed. If you have carpet, check the edges where it touches the baseboards.

Other insects that might be sharing your bed could include fleas (if you have furry pets), bird lice (if you have birds), spider beetles, carpet beetles, and baby cockroaches. While it’s not fun to find any of these critters where you sleep, some are easier to get rid of than others, so it’s important to identify what you find. If you aren’t sure, try to catch one or more in a ziplock bag and show it to an exterminator.

Are Bed Bugs a Health Emergency?

The good news is that bed bugs don’t carry diseases. It would be very unusual for anyone to get sick from bed bug bites. The exceptions would be severe allergic reactions, which are exceedingly rare, and an infection from the bites themselves. In general, infected bed bug bites happen when someone scratches them excessively and if they’re in a situation where there’s a lot of bacteria around to get into the wound. 

So while bed bugs are certainly unpleasant, they are not an emergent health concern. You should get them taken care of as soon as possible, of course, because they multiply rapidly. Treating the room or the house for bed bugs takes a couple of weeks in most cases, and more than one treatment is often needed. 

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last?

If you have bed bugs, it’s natural to worry about how long the bites will last. It’s overwhelming, but you’re not in any immediate danger. Let’s lay out some basic facts:

  • The bites themselves can last a week or two. They’re uncomfortable, but you can use over-the-counter medications to relieve itching.
  • Bed bugs don’t carry disease or parasites, so you won’t need to worry about catching a virus or anything else from their bites.
  • There’s never just one bed bug, and there’s never just one bed bug bite. If you don’t treat the problem, the bites will continue, and you will continue seeing (and feeling!) them.
  • It can take a couple of weeks to eliminate bed bugs, so during that time, you may continue to experience bites.
  • There are steps you can take to minimize bites while waiting for professional treatment.

What do bed bug bites look and feel like?

Waking up with some itchy insect bites is never fun, but don’t panic: if you have bed bugs, you’ll probably be able to identify them by their pattern. First, bed bugs bite you when you’re sleeping, but the redness and bumps might not show up right away. In fact, they can take a few hours to a few days to become apparent, so you might notice them later in the day or even up to a week after the attack.

While a mosquito or flea bite is often one-and-done, bed bugs don’t operate that way. They bite and move, bite and move. So your bites will look like a cluster or line of spots. If you have clusters or a dotted line, chances are good the culprit is a bed bug.

For most people, a cluster of bites will be mildly or moderately itchy. The bites are reddened bumps, so you’ll be able to feel them. Some people with sensitive skin might have larger welts or even blisters.

How can you treat bed bug bites?


Bed bug bites will go away on their own in most cases. If yours are itchy or bothersome, you can use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itching. Follow the directions on the tube.

Cool compresses and calamine lotion can also ease the itch. If you’re itchy all over, an oatmeal bath can help relieve skin irritation. Try not to scratch, and if your child is affected, cut their nails short and discourage scratching.

If it’s particularly bothersome or if you scratch them and they look infected (red or weeping), get yourself to a doctor. It’s very rare, but some people are allergic to bed bug bites and might experience a severe reaction. If you have tightness in your throat, swollen lips, or difficulty breathing, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

What are some of the other signs of a bed bug infestation?

Not completely sure that the bites you have are from bed bugs? Here are some signs you have an infestation:

  • You see them. Bed bugs are small, flat, and oval-shaped. If you see one, chances are excellent you have an infestation.
  • You see blood spots. If you roll over on a bed bug that’s recently eaten, you’ll squish it and leave a blood spot on your sheets. Their poop is also reddish-brown and can be mistaken for blood.
  • You see (or feel) pieces of shell. Small pieces of random debris, particularly if they’re sharp like the exoskeleton of an insect, could mean there are creepy crawlies sharing your bed.
  • You smell something sweet and musty. These bugs have a characteristic odor that’s hard to describe but fairly noticeable.

If you have the characteristic bites (in a line, zigzag pattern, or cluster), you probably have bed bugs. If you have the bites plus any of the signs above, it’s a pretty sure thing.

How can you prevent bed bug bites?


So you have bed bugs. And maybe it’s a weekend or you realize the problem at midnight. You aren’t going to get an exterminator there right now and you need to sleep. What can you do?

First, strip the bed and wash the sheets and blankets in hot water, then put them through the dryer cycle. This will kill bugs and eggs in the sheets themselves.

Next, vacuum the mattress and all around the bed frame. Make sure you get into the little creases and crevices on the edges of the mattress. Vacuum under the bed and behind and around the headboard and footboard. Use the hose attachment to get into tight corners.

Then vacuum the rest of the carpet in the room. Whether you have hard floors or carpeting, run the hose attachment along the baseboards around the perimeter of the room.

Finally, if you have or can get a mattress cover that covers the entire mattress, that will prevent some of the bugs and eggs still in the mattress from reaching you while you sleep.

Really, though, you need to treat the problem for long-term results.

What’s the best way to treat bed bugs?

While the tips above will help reduce the number of bed bugs, it isn’t a permanent fix. You simply aren’t going to be able to get every bed bug out of your bedroom on your own unless you devote a lot of time to meticulously cleaning every bit of upholstery and washing every surface for at least a couple of weeks. It takes this long because you need to wait for all of the eggs to hatch while preventing any surviving adults from laying more eggs.

If you do want to go that route, be aware that bed bugs can live for over two months without any food sources. This means you can’t remove your mattress cover or let your guard down for that long. Don’t replace your mattress until you’re sure the problem has been eliminated; they’ll just infest your new mattress.

The best and most time-saving option is to hire a professional exterminator. They know how to safely rid your home of bed bugs and can get into the tiny nooks and crannies that you probably can’t. They’ll also be able to advise you as to how long the entire process will take. Many have guarantees and will come back to check if you suspect additional bed bug activity within some period of time.

All in all, bed bugs aren’t fun to deal with and their bites are an inconvenience. The good news is that the bites are almost never serious and effective bed bug treatments are available.