Can you Get Bed Bugs From Camping?

Bed bugs are a nuisance that can make the areas they infest very uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is that bed bugs can infest anywhere indoors regardless of how clean your surroundings are.

Whilst bed bugs can’t be picked up from camping, it’s certainly possible that they can make a home in your tent when in storage or from other people staying in the tent.

Whilst it’s an unlikely scenario, and one that can be avoided if you ensure you air out the tent before leaving on a trip, it’s certainly a possibility, and thankfully there are ways to remedy the situation. 

Where do Bed Bugs Come From?

Bed bugs are pests which inhabit upholstery or other furnishings. They’re an indoor species and prefer not to be outdoors, which is why it’s unlikely that you’ll ever pick them up whilst camping outdoors. 

Bed bugs travel from one place to another by using furnishings or items such as luggage bags, suitcases or by moving from one room to another. Bed bugs can be hard to exterminate due to this roaming nature, and their versatility. They’re especially common in hotels or places where different people visit and use furnishings due to this. 

Can Bed Bugs Live in a Tent?

Bed bugs are renowned for their abilities to live in any furnishings or upholstery – and tents are no exception to that rule. They can be found in creases or places that are dark, which there are an abundance of in tents – especially whilst they’re in storage. 

The biggest concern would be bed bugs infesting a sleeping bag, as the conditions within a sleeping bag are ideal for bed bugs. Considering sleeping bags are used to generate warmth and keep you comfy at night, they’re especially appealing to bed bugs as they can use you as a source of food. Whilst bed bugs like warm conditions, they begin getting uncomfortable when it gets too hot. As a result, sleeping bags may prove difficult for them to survive in and they could potentially die or move on from them during the night. 

Whilst bed bugs can live in a tent and its equipment, it’s likely that they’ll be as uncomfortable as you are. 

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small and unnoticeable if you’re not looking for them. They’re generally the size of apple seeds and brown in color. One of their main features is their round abdomens which are flat if they haven’t eaten recently, or balloon-like if they have. 

Bed bug eggs are barely visible to the naked eye, and they are only noticeable once they’ve gestated for a couple of days and an eye spot develops which is a small, black dot. 

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Tent

Bed bug bites affect people differently and reactions can vary from person to person depending on their sensitivity. 

Bed bug bites can cause the following:

  • Itchiness 
  • Skin irritation
  • Soreness
  • A mild fever

If you notice any of these symptoms whilst camping or are aware that something or someone has brought bed bugs into the tent, you need to figure out how to get rid of the pesky bugs before more damage is caused as they won’t go away on their own.  

There are a few steps to take to remove bed bugs from your tent:

  • Vacuum the entire tent, both inside and outside, making sure to give extra attention to any crevices or creases which bed bugs might be lurking in.
  • Make sure to dispose of the vacuum contents correctly by putting them in a sealable bag and disposing of them immediately to ensure nowhere else will be infested.
  • Scrub all of the tent seams carefully with a toothbrush to remove any remaining eggs that may be hiding away. 
  • Begin cleaning the tent with warm, odorless water. You can read a more detailed guide in How to clean a tent
  • Using a dryer, heat dry your tent. Whilst it’s generally advised not to put a tent in a dryer or washing machine due to potential damage, in this case it’s necessary that your tent is heat-dried. Alternatively, you can use a steamer on a damp tent for the same effect. 
  • Once the tent is dry, check over to ensure that there are no bed bugs left. Make sure to check it periodically in the hopes that it remains that way.
  • If you have a freezer chest available to you, putting the tend in there once it’s dried for a couple of days will help kill any leftover eggs that may have been missed.
  • If you find that there are still bed bugs calling your tent home, repeat these steps from the beginning until they’re eventually gone. 

All of these steps should also be followed with the remainder of your camp gear, including sleeping bags and other utensils to ensure that the infestation is removed as efficiently as possible. 

Unfortunately, due to the need for a vacuum and other cleaning equipment, there is no effective way to remove bed bugs from your tent if you’re already in the wilderness camping. Your options in that case are to rough it out for a couple of days or to pack up and go home in order to clean your tent. 

Under no circumstances should you decide to use someone else’s tent if yours is infested with bed bugs. Due to their nature, you risk infesting someone else’s tent and their own supplies. 

What Bugs Can You Bring Home From Camping?

Fortunately, bed bugs aren’t found in forests or other areas where people camp, and are brought into tents by other people or previously infested equipment. While bed bugs are and issue that’s very rarely considered when camping, there are other nasty bugs that can be picked up from camping, which are native to the areas in which you’ll be camping in. 


Ticks are nasty little critters that can be potentially very dangerous as they can carry lyme disease or other serious infections. They’re often found in grassy areas and are likely to latch onto your legs as you walk through them. One way to prevent ticks is by wearing long pants and boots. Ticks will also latch onto animals, including dogs, so it’s also important to inspect your pooch if they’re joining you whilst camping

A bug repellent will also prevent ticks if used correctly. If you do find yourself, or your dog, with a tick, make sure you remove the whole animal as the head can be buried beneath the skin. 


Fleas can be just annoying to people as they are to animals. They’re common all over the world and can be passed on fairly effortlessly. The best way to avoid fleas is to avoid communal areas and other people’s pets whilst out camping. Fleas multiply fast and can be hard to remove from the home once they’re brought back. To keep them away from your dog whilst camping, be sure to check if they’ve had their flea treatment beforehand and that they’re groomed. 


Chiggers are tiny bugs found in humid climates all over the United States. These bugs are similar to ticks in the way they will attach themselves to your lower leg. However, unlike ticks, chiggers use an enzyme which they inject into the skin to feed on dead tissue. Prevention is similar to ticks, but also to be aware when camping in humid places and thick brush. 

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