With a name like bed bug, you may expect these biting insects to be confined solely to the sleeping areas of their victims. If only this were true!
In fact, bed bugs can and will invade a wide range of other objects – including your electronics.
While it is rare for bed bugs to nest in your devices, they can be tricky to remove if they do find their way inside. Dealing with a bed bug infestation at home can be a long and intensive process, and your electronics are just one of the many items that may potentially need to be de-bugged.
Do bed bugs hide in electronics?
Yes, bed bugs can hang out inside your electronics. These tiny insects are experts at hiding and will squeeze themselves into any small, nearby crack to avoid detection.
Usually, they go for the seams of your mattress, pillows, and bedding but, occasionally, they may also find their way into your laptop.
Fortunately, it isn’t common for bed bugs to infiltrate your electronic devices, and this usually only happens in cases of very heavy infestations.
Bed bugs are attracted to heat, but this is a skill they use to find food (i.e. nearby humans) and they are unlikely to linger in the bloodless environment of your laptop.
What is the likelihood of finding bed bugs in your electronics, and which devices are most at risk?
Bed bugs are unlikely to infest your electronics, and usually only do so when they are present in very large numbers.
If you do have a heavy bed bug infestation, however, they are most likely to hide in items left on or near the bed. This may include laptops, alarm clocks, and bedside speakers or stereos.
What are the risks of having bed bugs in your electronics?
Though bed bugs may occasionally find their way into electronics, they probably won’t cause any major damage. This is because they are highly unlikely to start nesting and reproducing in there, which could cause a build-up of debris (including eggshells, skin casks, and dead bugs) inside your device. The risk of this happening increases, however, if you are dealing with an extensive and persistent infestation, in which bed bugs are frequently invading your devices.
How can you get rid of bed bugs in your electronics?
It can be very difficult to remove bed bugs from electronics.
Unlike sheets and other bedding, which can be treated with washing at high temperatures, laptops and other devices are easily damaged by moisture and rough handling. Extreme heat is known to kill bed bugs, but applying high temperatures to your laptop for extended periods of time will almost certainly damage your device.
So, how can you treat your electronics for bed bugs (without destroying them)?
Method 1: The waiting game
As mentioned earlier, electronics are not an ideal habitat for bed bugs, so they are very unlikely to start nesting and breeding in there. Usually, they will emerge when it is time for them to feed so, if you eradicate them from the surrounding area, they will eventually disappear altogether.
The downside of this method is that it takes time, and you can’t be sure that your electronics are bug-free until your whole house is. If you regularly take certain infested devices out and about with you, there is a risk that you will spread the bugs to other people’s possessions and, therefore, their homes. If you need to get bed bugs out of your electronics ASAP, you can try fumigating them, instead.
Method 2: Fumigation
The fumigation method involves placing your infested devices inside a sealed bag or container along with an insecticidal product that kills the bed bugs stone dead.
There are a few different products designed for this purpose. One highly effective product comes in the form of strips infused with dichlorvos. These can be placed in the bag alongside your infested electronics for two weeks, after which you can expect your devices to be completely insect-free.
The downside to using dichlorvos, however, is that there are some concerns about the toxicity of this product. It also smells terrible, and the odor is reported to make some people nauseous.
If you’d rather try a more natural fumigation method, neem-based products could be the way to go. Neem oil, an extract of the neem tree, is well known for its insecticidal effects but is almost entirely harmless to humans and pets. It is thought to be just as effective as dichlorvos, with one study finding that it killed 100% of bed bug eggs, nymphs, and adults after just 7 days. You can also use this method to get rid of bed bugs in other items that cannot be washed, like shoes, books or toys.
Unfortunately, it’s reported to smell every bit as bad as the dichlorvos treatment – it seems that’s just the price you pay for having bug-free possessions.
Bed bugs are best known for their tendency to live in linen and mattresses, emerging at night to feast on the blood of nearby sleepers. Itchy bites aside, a bed bug infestation can take a profound psychological toll on anyone who has to deal with them, as these insects are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
In cases of heavy infestations, bed bugs can start to find their way into other objects including clothing, paperback books, and even electronic devices. The go-to method for killing bed bugs – with heat – won’t work here. Instead, fumigation using insecticidal products (such as dichlorvos or neem) is considered to be the safest and most effective way of getting rid of bed bugs in your electronics. These treatments promise to kill any and all bugs lurking inside within a week or two, without causing irreversible damage to your laptop.