In the last decade bed bugs have become world travelers. They are professional hitchhikers - stowing away in luggage, spending the night in hotels, clinging to clothing, and even infesting plane seats. However, did you know that they can also take up residence in your vehicle?
How to Inspect a Car for Bed Bugs
If you’re in the market for a used car here are a few ways to investigate if the ride comes with unwanted passengers:
- Perform a visual inspection. Look along the seams of the car’s upholstery, under the seats, along the edge of the carpet, within the console, and in the door bins. Use a flashlight to look closely for the small bugs. Remember, they are only about the size of an apple seed.
- Watch for signs of bed bugs such as blood stains, reddish fecal spotting, or shed exoskeletons.
- Use a roll of double-sided tape to trap bugs. Press the tape down into the seams of the upholstery and carpeting that are hard to access and inspect the tape for bed bugs or other signs of an infestation.
Clean Your Car to Rid the Auto of Bed Bugs
If you’ve discovered your car has bed bugs, don’t bring it to the scrap yard just yet. There are steps you can take to salvage the situation. First, clean every nook and cranny of the vehicle:
- Remove all trash and clutter that may be harboring hidden bugs.
- Vacuum the car. Use a high suction shop vacuum to pull debris and insects out of the cracks and crevices. Remember that the bugs like to hide in dark places. Promptly dispose of the contents of the vacuum in an outdoor trash receptacle away from your residence or vehicle.
- Shampoo the flooring and upholstery in the vehicle. Remove all floor mats and seat covers to effectively clean the area and run them through a laundry cycle on high heat.
- Steam clean the entire interior to kill the bugs with high heat or have it done professionally.
Sprays to Kill Bed Bug
There are numerous sprays available that can effectively treat the interior of your car and kill bed bugs of all life stages. Make sure there is ample time between when you treat the car and when you need to use it next to ensure it doesn’t pose a hazard to either you or your passengers health, and always read and follow the directions on the label.
Natural Bed Bug Killers
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the fossilized remains of aquatic organisms called diatoms. These crystal like remains are microscopically sharp and effectively cut through the exoskeleton of bed bugs to dehydrate them from the inside out. Sprinkle the cracks and seams around your car with DE and allow it to sit several days before vacuuming it up. While DE is non-toxic, it is best to limit the use of your vehicle while treating with DE.
Park Your Car for 12 to 18 Months
Bed bugs can survive months without a meal. As a last resort, park your car for about 12 to 18 months to starve the bugs out. Although very few people can afford to do this, it will cause the bugs will die off or leave in search of food.
Check Your House
If you have bed bugs in your car then chances are good that you have introduced them to your home. They are notorious for hitching a ride on clothing or bags. If you discover an infestation in your car, check your home thoroughly for signs of bed bugs as well and get on top of the situation before these pests have a chance to move in further.
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