A common question people have when determining if they have bed bugs is “can bed bugs jump or fly?” This stems not just from general comparisons to other pests, like fleas or roaches, but also from some common misconceptions about bed bugs. Let’s go over the basics of bed bug movement to better understand how they behave, and how we can use that to fight them:
First off, bed bugs are not equipped to fly. They do have front wings, but they are vestigial, meaning they have lost their function over time. The front wings on today’s bed bugs are reduced to small jointed pads, which aren’t capable of anything more than a slight wiggle while the bed bugs move or feed.
This is a common occurrence in evolution. Even humans have a few vestigial characteristics: we have muscles in our ears that allow some people to wiggle their ears slightly. These muscles are left over from when our ancestors had extended ears that could turn to the direction of a sound.
Unlike other insects that are incapable of flight, bed bugs can’t jump either. Their body is too wide and low to the ground, making it hard enough for their short legs to just keep them up and moving. While some people report bed bugs “jumping” from their walls or ceiling, this is more likely just a bug losing its grip and falling.
How do they move?
There really isn’t anything exciting about bed bug movement: they crawl. Due to their short legs and wide body, they crawl rather low to the ground at an even pace, about as quickly as an ant. While they can turn fairly quickly while moving, they’re not very good at picking up speed beyond their normal pace.
One thing bed bugs are fairly good at is climbing. They can make their way up most wood, cloths, paper, plastics, and even some metals. This is due to the small hooks in their feet, which grab onto small cracks and pores in textured surfaces. That reliance on hooks means that bed bugs have trouble climbing slick, smooth surfaces like porcelain or glass.
Due to their rather unathletic anatomy, bed bugs don’t do well in busy terrain, like hair or thick rugs. Their legs aren’t strong enough to push most materials aside, like most insects and other animals would when traversing through thick grass, brush, or hair. They also don’t burrow into skin or other materials, as they lack any sort of claws or other tools that would enable this.
How do they reach you in your bed?
Since bed bugs can’t jump or fly, they have to use their gifted crawling ability to reach you in your bed at night. They can do this by climbing up one of many possible access points, such as your bedroom’s walls, the legs of your bed frame, and any furniture or loose bedding that connects your bed to the floor.
To combat this, move your bed away from the wall and from other furniture, like nightstands and dressers. Also make sure that there are no hanging skirts or sheets that could be touching the floor, and that there’s no storage under the bed. Finally, place ClimbUp Interceptors under each leg of your bed. These have talcum-lined pitfalls that bed bugs can’t climb out of, preventing them from using your bed frame to reach you.