When you think bed bug infestation, you think bed. You may be aware that bed bugs can (and do) inhabit many areas of the home, including in the sofas, cupboards, drawers, and carpets. However, what’s less known- perhaps because it’s less common, and goes unnoticed more often –is that bed bugs can infest cars, too.
How do you know if you have a bed bug infestation in your car?
The first indication that you have a bed bug infestation somewhere is if you keep finding little red bumps or spots on your skin that you can’t explain. However, obviously this isn’t enough alone to suggest you have an infestation- you might have been bitten by an insect outside, or you could have come into contact with another person’s infestation (in their home or car). So, to check your car for evidence of bed bugs, you should look for tiny rusty-looking spots in your car, excrement, or even bed bugs’ decomposing exoskeletons- you can also check for the little parasites in the seams of the car seats, the edges, and corners of the floor and under the seats.
How do they get there?
Bed bugs use people as hosts, so a person who has come into contact with a bed bug infestation can become a carrier. Bed bugs like to avoid the heat, so instead of clinging to skin or hair, they cling to clothes instead and then transfer themselves to the car.
Can they survive in cars?
The short answer is, yes. If your car is in regular enough use to provide them with nutrition (a.k.a. human blood), then bed bugs are sturdy enough to make a life for themselves inside your car. Even if the car gets hot, the bed bugs will most likely survive, since they can bear temperatures of up to 117°F/47°C. If you live somewhere that’s extremely hot, however, your car might become hot enough to kill the little pests. In comparison, bed bugs are also resistant to the cold, and can remain active a few degrees above freezing point, since they’re able to lower the freezing temperature of their bodily fluids, allowing them to survive for a few days until they receive a bit of warmth (which, if your car is in regular use in the winter, they will get, since most of us have the heating on in the car, in winter time). However, if you live somewhere that gets really cold in winter, and it often goes well below freezing, then the bed bugs don’t really stand a chance.
How do you get rid of the bed bugs in your car?
There are a few methods which you can use to deal with a bed bug infestation:
Clean your car.
First, remove all the rugs, loose carpeting, and seat covers if you have them, and wash them. Then, dry them in a dryer. The washing, plus the heat from the dryer, is sure to kill the bed bugs, and any of the eggs attached to the upholstery. Lastly, before returning everything to the car, you should do a thorough vacuuming of the car seats and the floor- especially under the seats.
Use diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural sort of talcum powder made from rock, which is toxic to bed bugs, but not to pets or humans. So, if you don’t have the time (or the inclination) to do a total car cleanout, this is a quicker option. The powder should be put on the carpet and the upholstery and, though it is quite difficult to be thorough, if the bed bugs come into contact with the powder, they are killed immediately- plus, the diatomaceous earth has the added benefit of killing other pests such as insects, cockroaches and fleas. After a few days (and some rigorous checking around for still-living bed bugs), you can vacuum the powdered areas.
If you can’t get your hands on the diatomaceous earth, and need a quick and convenient fix, then insecticide should do the job. However, it’s not a particularly nice chemical to have to spray in your car- it usually smells horrible, and it can be toxic to other animals. That and as bed bugs are evolving it has been shown that chemical treatments are not effective as heat treatments.
Hire professional exterminators.
If you want to make sure that the job is done properly, there’s no better route to take than to hire people who know exactly what they’re doing. Armed with bed bug traps, and bed but heat treatment equipment you can be sure to have a bed bug free car in no time, without the hassle.
So, if you think you have a bed bug infestation in the car (or elsewhere), no need to be embarrassed (since it happens to the best of us)- just follow the advice above and you’ll be able to locate the little pests, get rid of them, and look forward to riding in an infestation-free car once more.