Do Bed Bugs Fly? Debunking a Common Pest Myth

Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.

These tiny, reddish-brown pests are most active at night and notoriously difficult to eliminate, causing people to wonder if bed bugs can fly.

Fortunately, bed bugs do not have wings and are, therefore, unable to fly.

Do Bed Bugs Fly
Bed Bug

They do, however, have an alternative method for traversing short distances: crawling.

Bed bugs are skilled at navigating through furniture, bedding, and other textiles thanks to their small size and flat shape.

This stealthy approach allows them to remain undetected by their hosts, making infestations even more challenging to handle.

Do Bed Bugs Fly?

Bed bugs are small, flat, wingless, parasitic insects with a reddish-brown color and oval shape.

As mentioned earlier, they don’t fly, but they can crawl short distances.

Crawling vs. Flying

Although bed bugs have a similar size and appearance to some flying insects, they do not have wings and, therefore, cannot fly.

Instead, bed bugs are known for their crawling abilities. They are adept at moving quickly through various environments to find hosts and places to hide.

Keep in mind that, despite their crawling nature, bed bugs can still be challenging to eliminate, so familiarizing yourself with prevention and control methods is vital to minimize infestations.

Bed Bug

Other Common Misconceptions

Another common misconception about bed bugs is that they are only found in dirty environments.

The fact is, that cleanliness does not deter bed bugs.

They can be found in clean and cluttered spaces alike, such as homes, dorm rooms, motels, and even private vehicles.

Important Facts About Bed Bugs

  • Bed bug hiding places: Bed bugs tend to hide in cracks, crevices, seams, and carpets. They prefer tight spaces and usually come out at night to feed on human blood.
  • Size and appearance: Adult bed bugs are roughly the size of a penny’s head (1-7mm) and reddish-brown in color. Young or nymph bed bugs are much smaller (1/16 inch long) and almost colorless or white.
  • Feeding habits: Bed bugs need a blood meal to survive. They can live several months without one, but prefer to feed every few days. To minimize detection, they use an anesthetic while feeding.
  • Signs of infestation: Common signs of a bed bug infestation include droppings, blood stains, and shed skins. They can sometimes be mistaken for cockroach nymphs or carpet beetles.
  • Prevention and control: Regular inspection for signs of infestation, hot water washing, vacuuming, and professional pest control are all methods to prevent or eradicate bed bug infestations. High heat exposure (like in a dryer) is effective in killing them.

Bed Bug

Conclusion

Bed bugs, notorious for their bites, are often surrounded by myths, one of which is their ability to fly. Contrary to this misconception, bed bugs do not possess wings and cannot fly.

Instead, they rely on their adept crawling abilities to navigate their environment and locate hosts.

These tiny, reddish-brown pests are most active at night, making them challenging to detect.

Their size, ranging from 1mm to 5mm, and flat, oval shape further aid their stealth.

Proper understanding of their characteristics and debunking myths is essential for effective prevention and control, ensuring a comfortable living environment free from these pests.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about bed bugs. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bed Bug

Subject: Bed Bug?
Location: Pacific NW, USA
June 23, 2012 1:30 pm
We found this bug on our bed early this morning, and think it might be a bed bug. We’ve checked for all the ”signs” of bed bugs, and found no feces or eggs, or even another bug.
It’d be great to know for certain what we’re looking at.
Thanks! 😀
Signature: Blaze

Bed Bug

Hi Blaze,
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but your supposition is correct.  This is a Bed Bug in the family Cimicidae.  You should take immediate measures to ensure that you do not wind up with an infestation.  Good Luck.

Letter 2 – Bed Bug

Subject: Seattle Bed Bug
Location: Seattle, WA
August 23, 2012 12:15 pm
For about a week, my wife and I were getting bites all over our bodies. First we thought it was mosquitos, but our friends, (grown) children and neighbors were not getting nearly as many bites per day.

Yesterday, I combed through the sheets of our bed and found two live ones less than 1mm each. Their bodies are translucent and you can see that there is blood inside. Found it! Now curious to know what it is.
Signature: Scratching in Seattle

Bed Bug

Dear Scratching in Seattle,
Based on this photo on BugGuide, this sure looks to us like a Common Bed Bug,
Cimex lectularius, though we cannot say for certain that it isn’t one of the other species in the Bed Bug family Cimicidae. 

You might want to get professional assistance, especially since you found two and they appear to be not fully grown.

Thank you. We are getting it professionally taken care of. Greatly appreciate your help.

Letter 3 – Bed Bug

Subject: Is this a bedbug
Location: New Jersey
January 21, 2013 7:39 am
Found this guy on my blanket last night. I think its a bed bug? The images are a bit blurry, he wouldnt stay still
Signature: Adam

Bed Bug

Hi Adam,
Though your photos are blurry, this does appear to be a Bed Bug.

Letter 4 – Bed Bug

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Kentucky
January 28, 2013 4:22 pm
Hello, over the past few days I have noticed these little critter crawling around on my bed. I’ve only seen them late at night and really can’t find any signs of them during the day. I’m thinking this is a bed bug, but can’t be for sure can you help me out?
-Brad
Signature: To brad

Bed Bug

Hello Brad,
Unfortunately, this is a Bed Bug.  We would urge you to get professional assistance to eradicate them.

Update:  April 11, 2013
Bean Leaves Trap Bed Bugs!!!
See the New York TImes

Letter 5 – Bed Bug

Subject:  What type of insect?
Geographic location of the bug:  Maryland
Date: 12/05/2019
Time: 02:33 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this bug on my living room wal, curious to know what it is.
How you want your letter signed:  Mario

Bed Bug

Dear Mario,
This is a Bed Bug, and if you found one, there are likely more.  Infestations of Bed Bugs can be difficult to eradicate.  They are blood suckers that will feed on humans while sleeping.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

3 thoughts on “Do Bed Bugs Fly? Debunking a Common Pest Myth”

Leave a Comment