04 Oct Evidence that bed bugs sense noise/vibration

A family in their own 2.5 storey home brought bed bugs home and the entire infestation was originally limited to the kid’s bedroom on the second floor. When bed bugs were discovered they did not have enough money to address the problem so they abandoned the room and moved the entire family to the third floor master bedroom that was directly above the infested room. Fortunately the family did not spray any RAID or similar products.

Once the family had enough money for an exterminator they called me to evaluate the project. During the questioning phase it was noted that bed bugs were observed on the cove ceiling of the infested bedroom several weeks after it had been abandoned. The cove portion was removed and no bugs were observed behind the cove. During and following the treatments bed bugs were never observed on the main floor – only the top two floors.

Though there are exceptions bed bugs are not normally found in ceiling areas. The bugs in the abandoned bedroom had become hungry and went looking for food elsewhere. Interestingly they moved upwards to the people sleeping above them. One might explain this by suggesting the bugs were following the Co2 from the third floor (Co2 does naturally fall as it is heavier than air). On the other hand Robert Usinger (highly respected authority on bed bugs who wrote the authoritative text Monograph of Cimicidae) suggests that bed bugs can not find a Co2 source from a distance greater than 5 feet. If that information is true then the bugs could not have sensed the Co2 from upstairs. Plus the walls and floor would diffuse the Co2 making it even more difficult. But why then are there bugs on the ceiling? I theorize the bugs can sense noise/vibration and were following those cues.

In multi family settings I have noted a similar pattern. If an infested suite is abandoned the suites most at risk of subsequent infestation are across the hall and the suite above. That is interesting as RAID spraying tends to push the bugs to the suite below. Very interesting.