One of the most difficult aspects of bed bugs is their ability to climb into the deepest crevice to hide. As such declaring a suite bed bug free with a visual inspection is impossible. But once in a while a bed bug is discovered on the clothes of a person visiting an uninfested suite. Would killing the bug on this person’s clothing be adequate? Again the answer is no.
One of the most common methods of getting bed bugs onto a person during the day is wearing clothing that was stored in close proximity to an infested bed. The bugs prefer raw wood and cloth as substrates so clothing is fair game for the bed bug. And bed bugs tend to congregate together. If one bed bug is found there are probably more. So putting on a pair of pants that has at least one bed bug would almost ensure that an entire colony is going to be transported. There may be 50 bed bugs on that pair of pants.
We have seen this in practice as well. A visitor entered one of my tenant’s suite and a bed bug was immediately discovered and killed. I was informed immediately and an additional dead bed bug was discovered after treatment. Another interesting observation was watching bed bugs on my neighbour’s clothes. My neighbour wore clothing that had been on the floor beside the bed and two bed bugs were observed on the clothes during the day. There were probably more.
It is theoretically possible that that there is only one bug but bed bug behaviour almost guarantees multiple bugs. If you find one bug is is most likely a member of a colony.