No, bed bugs cannot bite through clothes because they do not have the necessary anatomical mouth parts to bite and chew through fabric, or any material that is thicker than a skin-like membrane. Their mouth is not large enough to tear through the fibers of the clothes. Bed bugs would much rather move to the places of your body that are not covered by clothes and make drinking your blood easier for them.
Why can a bed bug not bite through clothes?
There are no bed bug species that can bite through clothes. Unlike other insects that have mouths that can bite and chew, bed bugs have a straw-like beak that they can fold under their body when not in use. They do not have lips, teeth, or a tongue. A bed bug feeds through penetrating the skin of the host with their beak until they reach a blood vessel.
These insects have not needed to evolve past drinking blood for sustenance so they have had no need to adapt.
Can bed bugs bite through my clothes?
Bed bugs can be a great nuisance and a source of stress in a person’s life, and one of the most commonly asked questions is if bed bugs can bite through our clothes or not. Even if we have already discussed that bed bugs are unable to bite through clothes, why do some people claim that they have bed bug bites on their backs and legs even if they went to bed wearing a shirt and pajamas? Let us discuss this more extensively.
Bed bugs cannot bite through clothes because that is not how their mouths work. They do not have the necessary mouth parts to bite or chew through fabric, plastic, or any other material. Their straw-like beak pierces the skin and drinks the blood. These beaks are long so when not in use, the bed bug will simply tuck it underneath their body.
Even if the bed bug’s beak is long and you may think that it can poke through your pajamas to reach your skin, the truth is it cannot do that. Bed bugs have a feeding response that they need to get before they unfurl their mouth. The response is only triggered by materials that resemble skin. Fabric, plastic, and any other material does not trigger this feeding response because they can feel that there is no blood on the other side of the unfamiliar material.
If you wear long pajamas while you sleep but still get bites on your legs, the only way this could have happened is that your pajamas must have bunched up on your thigh while you moved around in your sleep, exposing your leg. The same goes a shirt you wear in your sleep, it can rise up and expose your back which the bed bugs can now feed on.
Any tight clothing is effective in preventing bed bug bites. Tights are so close to the skin that the bed bugs are unable to get underneath it to bite you. Tights can keep bed bugs away from the lower half of your body.
Unfortunately, other parts of your body are still exposed, so they will most probably cluster in that area and you will end up with multiple bed bug bites. The best thing to do is still to do a complete eradication of the pests from your home.
Bed bugs cannot bite through socks. The elastics on the socks, same with tights, are too close to the body that the bugs will not be able to squeeze through. But if your socks are older and loose, they may be able to get to the skin around your ankles to feed.
Aslo, same with tights, bed bugs will not bother to waste time and energy on areas with inaccessible skin. They will look for exposed skin elsewhere and feed there.
Bed bugs cannot bite through a blanket, but they can certainly crawl their way underneath it to get to you. So wrapping yourself up in a blanket is not as effective at preventing bed bug bites as you might think. This may take more time for the bed bug to find exposed skin, but if it is there, they will find it.
You will also be moving around in your sleep too much to ever actually keep the blanket wrapped tightly around you until the morning. Again, the smartest thing to do is still to exterminate all the bed bugs in your house.
Can bed bugs get under your clothes?
Bed bug bites that you see under your clothes are a result of bed bugs finding a way under them and not the bed bug biting through your clothes to get to your skin.
Bed bugs that have not yet fed had flat bodies that can easily squeeze into any gap or crack. Maneuvering through a gap between your skin and your pajamas is a bed bug’s specialty.
How does a bed bug get under my clothes?
Like most insects, bed bugs tend to find where they need to go by wandering aimlessly. This is the case when a bed bug encounters a host that is bundled up in blankets and covered head to toe in clothes. If they cannot seem to find a spot where the skin is exposed, they will keep crawling around you until they find a gap between your clothes they can squeeze into.
Bed bugs can also use the warmth and carbon dioxide emanating from a person’s body as a beacon so they know exactly where their human host is.
No, bed bugs cannot bite through clothes. They do not have the anatomical mouth parts needed to tear through fabric. They only have a straw-like beak that pierces through skin-like membranes. Even if bed bugs are unable to go through fabric, they can still search out gaps between your clothes and access your body through there.
The bes way to make sure that you do not get any bed bug bites is still to face the problem head on and to start a bed bug treatment method to exterminate all of the bed bugs in your house.
Image: istockphoto.com / Melpomenem