Itchy, irritating, and all-too-common, bed bugs have been the nightmare of many a weary traveler. But can bed bugs be in the car?
Fortunately, it isn’t as common for cars to become infested with bed bugs. However, there are certain circumstances that make your vehicle more susceptible to them.
In a nutshell, these bed bugs won’t find themselves crawling up your car seat or your dashboard. There’s a possibility, however, that you’ve been able to bring them inside your vehicle through your clothes, bags, luggage, or other items that you’ve loaded in your car.
Different Ways to Tell You Have Bed Bugs In Your Car
As mentioned earlier, it’s highly unlikely that bed bugs would have ended up in your car by themselves.
Because these pests excellently hitchhike on different items, it’s more likely that you’ve brought them in your car unknowingly.
Dark Spots on Your Seats
If you have light-colored seats, these sightings are easier to spot. What are these dark spots? Bed bugs feed on blood and leave behind brown or red stains.
This is a good indicator that one (or more) of these bugs were present and have been crushed.
Additionally, they also secrete liquid waste and fecal spots that are dark brown or black, as small as a period, and can bleed into the fabric.
You’ll notice, however, that these excrement spots are slightly different from the blood from their feeding activities. These excrements are dark brown in color, dry, and don’t spread out and stain like dried blood.
Bed bugs also have a distinct smell that you can detect if they are present in your car. If you’ve had to fight an infestation in your bedroom, you may have noticed the same musty scent that’s originating from your mattresses.
The scent is a combination of the natural scent that these bugs release, their secretions, and the rotting skin shed by their nymphs.
If you feel like your car has suddenly become stuffy or you can detect an odd smell despite having just cleaned it, this could be an indication that there are bed bugs present in your vehicle.
Exoskeleton Sheddings and Eggs
As bed bugs grow and molt, they leave behind their exoskeleton sheddings. They shed their skin allowing them to get bigger and can leave behind these markings inside your car.
Bed bug sheddings look like white or yellowish flakes that are scattered around the car’s surfaces, your seat, and even flooring.
As for the eggs, they’re slightly smaller and a bit more difficult to spot than exoskeleton shedding. However, they usually come in cluster form, and they may look like small yellow or whitish dots, typically around a millimeter long.
Unfortunately, the presence of these sheddings and eggs means that there’s an ongoing infestation, and female bed bugs are actively producing more of their kind.
Live Bed Bug Sightings
Of course, nothing else could prove your theory than a live bed bug sighting. If you’ve seen one crawling around your car, chances are, there are more of them present and they have already started breeding inside your vehicle.
Bed bugs can be problematic and annoying, especially when you have them in your car. Aside from the risk of you spreading these bed bugs at home, you are also at risk of spreading it to other places you go – malls, offices, cinemas, etc.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs In Your Car?
Some people aren’t at all concerned about the presence of bed bugs. Won’t heat get rid of these pests? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
The car should be parked under direct sunlight, for a couple of hours at least, and the interior must be able to reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This is said to be the temperature that can kill bed bugs and their eggs.
However, this temperature must be constantly reached within 90 minutes, or sometimes even more.
If the car interior’s temperature goes up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, it only takes 20 minutes before those who are exposed to the temperature will start to die.
As mentioned earlier, this might not be a cause for concern to those living in areas where the climates are typically warm and the sun is bright most of the time.
But if you are in an area where summer temperatures don’t get as high, relying on the sun to get rid of bed bugs can be difficult and might not even work at all.
For this, there are a couple of other solutions that you could do:
We’re applying the heat principle here, where you’ll be using the power of heated steam to kill the bed bugs.
Steam cleaning is a great solution, as it involves the use of specific tools and equipment that generate high heat and pressure levels to effectively remove any parasites from your car’s upholstery.
Bed bugs instantly die when exposed to temperatures higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit and steam cleaning can generate such temperatures.
There’s one common problem with this method though – if you have leather seats on your car, you should avoid steam cleaning. Steam is known to damage leather, making it brittle and prone to cracking.
This is something that you can regularly do and will help in keeping the bedbug population within your car under control.
Vacuuming is a great preventive measure that you can do since it sucks up all types of debris, dirt, and other pests like bed bugs from your car’s interior.
When vacuuming, make sure to go through all the crevices and upholstery of your car since these are where bed bugs usually hide.
Once you’re done, make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag immediately, as this is a nest for the pests waiting for them to come out.
Peppermint and Other Natural Scents
If the infestation isn’t too severe, you can try a simple DIY solution – the use of peppermint oil. Bed bugs are known to be very sensitive to smell and they naturally hate the scent of menthol, which is why this method works.
Simply mix a few drops of peppermint oil into a spray bottle filled with water, then mist it all over your car’s interior. The strong scent is enough to make the bed bugs flee and will keep them away for some time.
Take note that peppermint oil won’t kill the bed bugs, but it acts as an effective repellant. You can use other natural scents as well, such as eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary and tea tree among others.
Chemical Treatments and Car Fumigation
Fumigation has been known as a reliable method of eliminating bed bugs and their eggs from your car. Fumigation involves applying a chemical over the affected area, which releases toxic gases that can kill the pests.
Unlike bedrooms and living rooms where you have furniture and other things lying around, the treatment of cars with fumigation is usually straightforward.
It’s important to note that chemical treatments may require professional help since they involve hazardous gases and chemicals that can be dangerous if not handled properly.
Additionally, keeping the car closed during the treatment is also important because it ensures that the fumes will stay inside and won’t escape, thus killing all of the bugs that are present in your car.
When Should You Get Professional Help?
Ideally, we’d like you to seek professional help if you’ve noticed that you’re constantly getting bed bug bites, or if you’re worried that the infestation has become too serious for DIY solutions.
Aside from the regular vacuum and steam cleaning, professionals can also help you with chemical treatments and other services that can ensure the pests are eliminated.
Take note, however, that not all pest control services offer car inspection and treatments. You may want to check if the company you’re looking at offers these services.
Otherwise, they’ll help you inspect other areas of your home or office, and give you advice on how to best deal with the pests.
Just like how you can spot bed bugs in trains, buses and public transportation vehicles, bed bugs can also end up in your car. You may have unknowingly brought them into your car or they may have hitch-hiked in with you.
Regardless of how they got there, the important thing is that you’re aware of the danger and that you know what to do.
Regular cleaning and vacuuming, using natural scents, and chemical treatments are some of the methods that can help reduce bed bugs in your car.
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to get professional help since they’ll be able to properly inspect and treat the issue, the professional way.