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Can bed bugs come back after you get rid of them?

Bed bugs are a nightmare for many homeowners. These small, flat, parasitic insects feed on human and animal blood while people sleep. An infestation can happen quickly and be difficult to get rid of. Many people wonder if bed bugs will come back after treating an infestation. Here is a look at whether bed bugs can return after elimination.

Can Bed Bugs Come Back After Treatment?

Unfortunately, yes, it is possible for bed bugs to return after treatment. There are a few reasons this can happen:

  • Bed bugs were not fully eliminated – If all the bed bugs were not killed during the initial treatment, survivors can reproduce and reinfest.
  • New bed bugs enter the home – Bed bugs from a neighbor or after travel can start a new infestation.
  • Follow up treatments were insufficient – Not following up with additional treatments can allow bed bugs to recover.
  • New hiding places were missed – Bed bugs may have found areas that were missed during treatment.

While it is possible for bed bugs to come back, there are things you can do to lower the chances and prevent reinfestation.

Preventing Bed Bugs From Returning

Here are some tips to help prevent bed bugs from reinfesting your home after treatment:

  1. Inspect and treat adjacent rooms – Treat all connected rooms, even if no signs of bed bugs. This prevents migration from other areas.
  2. Follow up with additional treatments – Most treatments require 2-3 applications spaced 2 weeks apart to kill bed bugs and eggs.
  3. Replace or encase mattresses – Encase mattresses and box springs in bed bug proof covers to eliminate hiding spots.
  4. Reduce clutter – Get rid of unneeded items and organize belongings to eliminate bed bug hiding spots.
  5. Install bed bug monitors – Use interceptor traps and monitors around beds and furniture to detect early signs of activity.
  6. Launder items – Wash and dry clothing, bedding, curtains on hottest settings to kill bed bugs and eggs.
  7. Seal cracks and crevices – Caulk and seal any openings around baseboards, outlets, pipes etc that bed bugs use to travel.
  8. Cover mattresses and furniture – Covering mattresses, box springs, and infested furniture in plastic until bed bugs are eliminated.

Signs Bed Bugs Have Returned

Look for these signs that may indicate bed bugs have come back after treatment:

  • New bite marks appearing – Waking up with clusters of red, itchy bites could mean bed bugs are feeding again.
  • Blood spots on sheets – Blood stains on sheets and mattresses from crushed bed bugs.
  • Live or dead bed bugs – Seeing actual bed bugs, shed skins, or eggs around tufts and seams.
  • Musty, sweet odor – Bed bugs release pheromones that produce a musty, sweet smell in infested areas.
  • Interceptor traps catch bed bugs – Traps around furniture legs detecting bed bug activity.
  • Visual inspections find bed bugs – Detecting bed bugs after a thorough inspection of their typical hiding spaces.

Chances Bed Bugs Return After Treatment

The likelihood of bed bugs coming back after treatment depends on the following factors:

  • Severity of the initial infestation – Heavy infestations spread over a wide area are harder to fully eliminate.
  • Type and thoroughness of treatment – Certain professional treatments are more effective than DIY methods if done properly.
  • Extent of preparation – How well the home is decluttered and prepared prior to treatment impacts success.
  • Follow up prevention methods – Continued monitoring, cleaning and enclosure of furniture prevents reestablishment.
  • Likelihood of reintroduction – Exposure to bed bugs through travel, used furniture etc. can restart an infestation.

With severe infestations covering an entire home, there is a higher chance of bed bugs returning even after treatment. Small, localized infestations that are detected early are simpler to eliminate.

How Soon After Treatment Could Bed Bugs Return?

Bed bugs could potentially come back as soon as 2 to 3 weeks after treatment if elimination was not fully successful. Female bed bugs can begin laying eggs about 10 days after feeding. Eggs hatch in around 10 days.

Newly hatched bed bugs take 2 to 4 weeks after hatching to reach maturity and begin feeding and reproducing. This 2-3 week cycle from eggs to reproductive adults allows bed bugs to rebound quickly after incomplete treatment. Preventive measures should continue for at least 2 months after the last signs to ensure bed bugs do not return.

Most Susceptible Areas for Bed Bugs to Return

When bed bugs come back after treatment, they are often found in these areas first:

  • The bed frame or headboard
  • Mattress seams and tufts
  • Cracks in walls near the bed
  • Under wall trim and baseboards
  • Behind electrical switch plates
  • Inside furniture near beds
  • Under carpet edges near the bed

Focusing additional treatments and monitoring efforts in these prime bed bug spots can help prevent or catch an early reinfestation.

Eliminating Bed Bugs That Have Returned

If bed bugs have made a comeback, take these steps to get rid of them again:

  1. Inspect to confirm bed bugs are present – Catching infestations early makes treatment simpler.
  2. Schedule professional treatment – Heat, chemical, or freezing treatments performed by a reputable company are best.
  3. Improve preparation – Declutter, launder items, and seal cracks and crevices.
  4. Add bed bug encasements – Cover mattresses and box springs with effective, bite-proof encasements.
  5. Install bed bug monitors – Use climbing interceptors and monitors to identify problem areas.
  6. Follow up regularly – Inspect weekly and repeat treatments if bed bugs persist.

Repeated infestations may require combining treatment methods or using stronger insecticides if bed bugs persist after initial efforts.

Professional vs DIY Treatment for Returning Bed Bugs

Professional pest control treatments are usually much more effective at eliminating recurring bed bug infestations than DIY treatment. Professionals have access to:

  • Stronger and broader-spectrum insecticides
  • Specialized equipment for applying heat and freezing treatments
  • Training and experience treating heavy infestations

Professional treatments also avoid the safety risks associated with heavy pesticide use by homeowners. However, DIY options such as concentrated sprays, steam, traps, mattress encasements and diligent preparation can still potentially eliminate light bed bug infestations.

Cost of Professional Bed Bug Treatment

Professional bed bug treatment typically costs:

  • Initial treatment – $200 to $1,500 depending on size of home
  • Follow up visits – $200 to $500 per visit
  • Furniture steaming/freezing – $25 to $100 per major item
  • Detection canine inspection – $300 to $600 for average home

Severe infestations or large homes with recurrent bed bug issues will be at the higher end of the cost range. Some pest control companies offer package plans and warranties that cover repeat treatments.

Preventing Bed Bugs From Ever Returning

To minimize the chances bed bugs ever come back once eliminated:

  • Install door sweeps, screens, and seals – Reduce entry points into the home.
  • Inspect regularly – Check common bed bug hiding spots monthly.
  • Act quickly at any signs – Inspect and call a professional immediately if bites, spots, or bugs are seen.
  • Isolate after returning from trips – Inspect luggage carefully and launder contents immediately.
  • Avoid bringing in used furniture – Secondhand furniture is a common source of infestations.
  • Ask guests to inspect luggage – Request overnight guests inspect luggage for bed bugs beforehand.
  • Schedule annual inspections – Consider having a pest management professional perform periodic bed bug inspections.

While constant vigilance is needed, taking appropriate precautions and promptly treating any signs of bed bugs can help keep them from coming back long-term.

Chances of Bed Bugs Returning Based on Infestation Size
Infestation Size Chances of Returning
Small – Contained to one room or item Low – 20% chance
Medium – Scattered through one floor of home Moderate – 50% chance
Large – Heavy infestation of entire home High – 75%+ chance


Bed bugs returning after an initial treatment are an unfortunate possibility. Their rapid reproduction allows populations to rebound quickly if they are not fully eliminated the first time. Preventing reintroduction from travelers or neighbors also helps keep infestations from restarting. With diligence and working with a professional pest control expert, it is possible to prevent bed bugs from making a repeat appearance in your home.