How to Find Bed Bugs in Your Car—and How to Get Rid of Them

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This article is written by Brooke Nelson with Readers Digest – Jan. 24, 2019 / Updated Aug. 28, 2019.

Mattresses and sofa cushions are among the most obvious places to check for bed bugs. But these sneaky creatures can also find some unexpected hideouts—including your own car.

A bed bug infestation in your car, although rare, is no minor inconvenience. These many-legged hitchhikers can easily access every place you go, just for starters. And once they reach your front (or back!) door, they can be much harder to get rid of. “As much as the thought of having bed bugs in our car is alarming, it is much worse having an infestation in the home where there are many dynamic components and people involved,” says Jody Green, PhD, an urban entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in Lincoln, NE. Check out these 16 secrets bed bugs don’t want you to know (which are crucial for keeping them at bay).

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: Dark spots on the seats or floor mats

Bed bugs can sneak into your car via clothing, purses, moving boxes, and even books, Green says. To prevent these pests from getting the best of you, closely inspect areas of your vehicle that are made with fabric. One of the most common clues of a bed bug infestation will be small fecal or blood stains near the seams of the seats, cracks around the console or glove box, and on the edges of the floor mats, according to the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology. Don’t forget to search car seats or other fabrics like blankets as well. Check out these 13 weird tricks to clean your car.

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: Exoskeletons near cracks and crevices

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs shed their exoskeletons five times before reaching adulthood, or about once a week. Look for those exoskeletons in places where bed bugs love to hide, such as between your seats and inside the glove compartment or center console. Pro tip: Use double-sided tape to inspect any hard-to-reach areas, including the edges of seat cushions and floor mats.

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: A live bug walking around the vehicle

Naturally, a live bed bug roaming around your car is yet another sign of an infestation. Floor mats, seats, glove boxes, and center consoles are all fair game for these critters to hide out. While their color and shape change based on their age, most bed bugs are reddish-brown, flat, and oval-shaped. Their size can range from as small as a poppy seed to as big as an apple seed, Green says. Learn more about what bed bugs look like to help you easily identify them.

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Telltale sign of bed bugs: Bites or bumps on your skin

They may be little, but bed bugs pack a huge punch in other ways—including their bites. Human blood is their favorite food, so they might nip you while you are driving or taking a nap in the back seat. If you suddenly find itchy, red bumps, or rashes on your body after driving, you could have a bed bug or two in your car. Here’s how to identify the most common bug bites.

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