Stop Bed bugs in your camper or RV

Do you have Bed bugs in your camper or RV?

Whether you have a self-driving motorcoach, a towable pop-up, travel trailer, horse camper, or truck camper – you can be the victim of bed bugs.  

How do bed bugs get into a camper?

Bed bugs cannot hop, jump, or fly. Their only mode of transportation is by foot. Therefore, it is simple to deduct that the only way bed bugs can enter a motorhome is by physically being transported.

Some examples of how bed bugs can be transported to your camper would be: a bed bug crawls from someone’s jacket to your shirt on a crowded park recreational vehicle, a bed bug crawls from someone’s jeans onto your fabric handbag, a bed bug drops off a person’s backpack in an open-air amphitheater concert and burrows into your blanket, bed bugs are transported in the suitcase of a fellow camper who joins your expedition… and on the list could go.

You do not need to be overly concerned about getting bed bugs while participating in most outdoor activities associated with camping environments. For example, hiking on a walking trail is not a high travel area for bed bugs. Bed bugs are not found in the woods like fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks. A bed bugs most common host is a human; they are not attracted to the animals that would be in those areas.  

So, the short answer is that the bedbugs hitch hike on you, your clothes, or your possessions that you bring into the camper.  

What are signs that bed bugs have decided to travel with you?

Do you have Bed bugs in your camper or RV? This picture shows where to look.

Fresh red blood spots or dark brown/rust color fecal spots on bedding, pillows, sheets, or the mattress is a firm indicator that bed bugs have been active in your bed. Bites on arms and/or legs can be an indication as well. Bed bug bites are different than flea or mosquito bites. A bed bug will normally feed on its host in a line of bites rather than scattered bites across an area. Also, you will find skin casings around the perimeter of the bed, under mattress piping and ribbons, on bed rails, frames, and platforms. 

When searching for bed bugs, be sure to check any place in the camper that is used at night for sleeping such as a bed, an overhead loft bunk, or lounge recliner.

Determining the difference between a bed bug infestation and a single stray bed bug.

Do you have Bed bugs in your camper or RV? This picture shows where to look.

Finding one single bed bug in your camper is not a time to panic. It is most definitely a time to be concerned and to take immediate action; however, you don’t need to cancel the trip you have anticipated for months. If not eliminated, that one single bed bug could be an impregnated female that has the potential to lay hundreds of eggs, which could turn out to be detrimental.

So, upon first seeing a bed bug, it needs to be destroyed and discarded. A bed bug spray such as Lights Out should be sprayed in the area that the bed bug was found. This will act as a residual against further activity.

A bed bug infestation is the result of not addressing a bed bug problem. Bed bugs multiply rapidly and produce an army that becomes difficult to hide. Therefore, an infestation is not difficult to identify, the bed bugs will be in every crevice possible. They will get behind trim molding, behind fastened headboards, in windowsills, in furniture cushions, in outlet receptacles, in wall panel abutments, and under air vent covers.

What options are available to get rid of bed bugs in a camper?

Bed bug eradication can be achieved by hiring a professional exterminator or by the ambitious & frugal do-it-yourselfer. The basic means of treating bed bugs are by way of controlled chemical pesticides, general use pest products, natural deterrents, and heat treatments.

Controlled chemical treatments can only be conducted by a licensed professional who is certified to apply restricted products for bed bugs. 

There are some general use pest control products that are marketed today for bed bugs which can be purchased at places like Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart. Products such as these are mostly a “knockdown” or paralysis and are often deemed insufficient to control an infestation. We highly recommend that any type of fogger or “bed bug bomb” be avoided. These types of products will only aggravate the bed bug, making it scamper to a hiding spot until the irritant dissipates, and then it will resurface and go back to its normal routine.  

Travelers and campers who scour the internet searching for a natural solution will often end up finding recommendations for using essential oils, peppermint leaves, rubbing alcohol, dryer sheets, baking soda, cayenne pepper, and other various things that bed bugs have been known to dislike. All of these suggestions can be tried; however, many people find that these “solutions” are mostly successful as a deterrent rather than an eradication agent. 

Heat is really the only opponent of a bed bug in a camper or RV that is successful 100% of the time. Once the ambient air temperature reaches a lethal death point, the bed bugs have no other option but to die. Heat can be delivered by steam, propane heaters, or electric heaters.

  • Will bed bugs eventually die out in the RV?

Bed bugs can live many months and sometimes over a year without a blood meal from a host. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will ever starve them out unless your RV remains out of service and in storage for over 18 months.  

Do you have Bed bugs in your camper or RV? Check around the ceilings and carpet of your camper or RV.

Can a heat treatment be conducted while I am on a camping trip?

Yes, if you are a thousand miles from home and are planning on not returning for a long stent, a heat treatment can be conducted in your motorhome with only a small amount of downtime during your vacation or trip.

A professional bed bug technician will most likely have a portable propane heating unit or mobile equipment using a generator to power a bed bug heater. Since the majority of RVs are equipped with only 30–50-amp 125-volt electrical systems, a heater cannot be provided with enough power to operate sufficiently without an additional electricity source. Do-it-yourselfers can use an electric bed bug heater with a campsite hookup in conjunction with a gas generator. The generator will need to be equipped with 220-volt capacity for Class A Motorhomes.   

Can a heat treatment be conducted while my RV is in a storage facility? 

Yes, an electric heat treatment can be done as long as there is sufficient electricity available at the storage location, either on-site power or a generator.  

Alternative natural heat treatment. 

Do you have Bed bugs in your camper or RV? Check around your RV fixtures and curtains.

A hot summer day may be all that is needed to eradicate a bed bug problem in your motorhome or camper. Without fresh air circulation or using an air conditioner, the inside of an RV can become extremely and dangerously hot. A study conducted by Arizona State University has determined that a vehicle left in the sun for only one hour can reach an ambient air temperature of 116°. This temperature is hot enough to be lethal to adult bed bugs.

Remember that larger RVs will take a little longer time in the sun to heat up, so that should be considered. Mattresses & box springs, sofa cushions, memory foam pillows, and piles of clothes or laundry should be separated and strategically positioned to prevent “cold spots” in which the bed bugs could retreat for shelter and protection from the heat.  

Make a game plan

When you see the first insect that you think may be a bed bug, you need to have a plan in place to avoid becoming a victim of bed bug bites.

  1. First is inspection. You will need to look for bed bugs where they normally like to hang out or hide.
  2. Second is identification. You will need to determine if the insect that you have found really is a bed bug or if it is a different kind of bug. This is important to know before attempting to use any type of spray or chemical.  
  3. Third is itemizing. Count how many bed bugs you have seen. Are there only a couple on the top of the sheets or are there over a dozen that have hidden behind your headboard or between the mattress and the RV bed pedestal. This will make a difference of the extent of the treatment you choose.  
  4. Fourth is initiating a treatment. This may be a call to your local pest professional, a simple spray to kill a single bug, or a heat treatment for a heavy infestation of bed bugs. 

If you would like more information about our bed bug heaters or bed bug sprays, please contact one of our technicians today at 844-364-3281 or live chat with us.