Where Do Bed Bugs Hide? — An Entomologist Explains

The many places bed bugs hide.

Wondering if and where bed bugs might be hiding in your home or apartment?

Bed bugs are notorious for their ability to stay out of sight and avoid detection. These tiny pests (around the size of flaxseeds) like to seek out and hide in the tiniest of crevices. Any space bigger than two millimeters is a potential hiding spot for bed bugs.

But armed with some knowledge—and a bit of persistence—you CAN find traces of them. And once you do, you can make an informed decision about what the next steps should be.

In this article, we’ll discuss common places where bed bugs hide and how you should be looking for them.

Video: Where Do Bed Bugs Hide & How to Look For Them

We asked our entomologist, Lou, and here’s how he explains it.

(Louis N. Sorkin is a Board Certified Entomologist at Entsult Associates Inc. Before that, he worked at the American Museum of Natural History since 1978.)

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?

The most efficient way to search for bed bugs is to start at the bed (the most obvious place) and radiate outwards from there. That’s because bed bugs don’t like to travel long distances — they prefer to hole up in hiding places that are close to their feeding spots.

Use the list below as a guide as you begin your search, starting with the most probable locations:

1. Your Bed

  • Pillows and Pillowcases
  • Headboard
  • Footboard
  • Mattress Seams
  • Bed Frame
  • Box Spring
Bed bugs hiding in the corner of a wooden night stand.

2. Next to the Bed

  • Nightstands
  • Dressers
  • Rugs
  • Storage Boxes
Bed bugs hiding in the seam of a couch cushion.
Bed bugs hiding behind books on a shelf.

3. Furniture

  • Couches and Cushions
  • Bookshelves and Books
  • Tables, Desks, and Chairs
  • Children’s Toys
  • Pet Beds
Bed bugs hiding in the back seam of a picture frame.
Bed bugs hiding behind a smoke detector.
Bed bugs hiding in an electrical outlet.

4. Walls

  • Wallpaper
  • Baseboards
  • Window Frames
  • Curtains and Curtain Rods
  • Pictures and Posters
  • Electrical Outlets and Sockets
  • Vents and Radiators
  • Door Frames and Door Hinges
  • Chandeliers
  • Smoke Alarms

5. Neighboring Apartments

At this point, if you still haven’t been able to locate their hideout but you KNOW that they’re somewhere, it’s very possible that your bed bugs are coming from an adjoining apartment.

When an infestation is severe, bed bugs can travel through mechanical, electrical, and plumbing lines in search of new food sources. They might be coming from the neighbors to your right, to your left, above you, or below you.

Ask your landlord or super if there have been any recent bed bug problems in your building.

What to Look For

Since bed bugs are so small, they can be hard to recognize one even if you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to spot one. People often confuse them with other small, round-ish pests like spider beetles, carpet beetles, cockroach nymphs, and ticks.

Here’s a great guide for identifying bed bugs written by our project manager, Kevin Carrillo: How to Recognize Bed Bugs

It also helps to look at photographs of bed bugs at different times and life stages.

When searching for bed bug pictures online, the most common form you’ll see is that of the flat, reddish-brown, seed-shaped bug. Bed bugs usually look like this when they haven’t recently eaten. After they feed and become engorged with blood, they’ll actually plump up like the shape of a football.

Bed bug eggs (can be an important finding because it helps you gauge the level of infestation and know where they’re reproducing. Eggs are oval-shaped, pearly white in color, and about the size of a sesame seed. After they hatch, the first instar nymphs appear flat and white, and they have a little black crescent near the rear end.

The stages of a bed bugs life cycle from egg through adult.
From left: egg, 1st instar, 2nd instar, 3rd instar, 4th instar, 5th instar, adult male (top) adult female (bottom). Photo credit: Dong-Hwan Choe, Dept. of Entomology, UC Riverside

Lastly, you should familiarize yourself with other signs of bed bugs (such as shell casings, bloodstains, and fecal marks) in order to increase your chances of a successful investigation.

What Are the Next Steps?

If you found a lot of bed bugs (“heavy infestation”), it’s time for extermination. The exterminator will start with an inspection to identify all of the hiding spots in order to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan. If you live in an apartment building, notify your landlord or super.

If you found only a few bed bugs (“light infestation”), you have two choices. The first is to hire a professional to do a more detailed investigation and recommend treatment options. The second is to try to get rid of them yourself. Here’s our 5-step DIY approach using a flashlight, a vacuum, and some isopropyl alcohol.

If you didn’t find anything but still strongly suspect bed bugs (“inconclusive”), get some bed bug interceptors and putting them around the legs of your bed. These will trap any bed bugs that come out at night to feed.

For a more conclusive approach (and peace of mind), consider getting a certified canine bed bug inspection to sniff out those pests out for good.

A pest professional examines a bed for bed bugs using a flash light.

Need Help Getting Rid of Bed Bugs?

With over 25 years of knowledge and experience helping people get rid of bed bugs, MMPC is one of New York’s highest-rated pest control companies. Contact us if you have questions or need help with any type of bed bug service, including inspections, treatment, and prevention.

More Bed Bug Resources