Bed Bugs in California: Everything You Need to Know

aerial view of los angeles with bed bug image over it

California is home to beautiful scenery, arguably the best wine, and some of the best dining and shopping in the world, but it’s also home to one of the most dreaded pests on Earth: bed bugs. But knowledge is power, so here’s everything to know about bed bugs in California.

Key Takeaways

Bed Bugs in California’s Big Cities: California’s big populations in LA, San Francisco, and Sacramento mean big bed bug problems. The surrounding areas suffer from bed bug issues, too.

California Bed Bug Laws: State laws spell out landlord and tenant responsibilities, and attempt to make it easy to identify, report, and remove bed bugs.  The laws protect tenants who report bed bugs.

Are There Bed Bugs in California?

Yes, there are bed bugs in California, and bed bugs are a bigger problem in the biggest California cities. Here’s why: The rate of bed bug infestations roughly coincides with the population. If your area is highly populated, you’re more likely to get a bed bug infestation.

People can get bed bugs from anywhere, including public transportation, clothing stores, and hospitals. Bed bugs find ways into your home on your suitcase after traveling, or on your child’s backpack after a sleepover.

To make matters worse, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and 90% of bed bugs have a mutated gene that makes them resistant to pesticides.

California Bed Bug Law

a single bed bug on a blanket fiber
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Because of the increasing concern about bed bugs, the California Legislature passed a bed bug law in July 2017 that primarily addresses the duties and rights of landlords and tenants.

Here’s what it says:

  • 1954.600: Information and early detection are key to controlling bed bugs. Tenants and landlords need to cooperate. Lack of response from the landlord and extra clutter from the tenant can exacerbate the situation. Tenants should not face consequences for reporting a problem.
  • 1954.602: The landlord cannot show, rent, or lease any vacant dwelling unit that the landlord knows has a current bed bug infestation. Landlords are not required to inspect the property for bed bugs, but if an infestation is visible, the landlord is considered informed.
  • 1953.603: The landlord shall provide a lease addendum that includes substantial information to the tenant about bed bug identification, behavior and biology, and the importance of cooperation and reporting of suspected infestations to the landlord
  • 1954.604: Tenant shall allow entry complying with section 1954 to a unit identified by the pest control operator to conduct follow-up inspections of surrounding units until bed bugs are eliminated.
  • 1942.5: The landlord cannot recover property, increase rent, or reduce services for 180 days after reporting a suspected infestation to a landlord, reporting to an appropriate state agency, after a bed bug inspection or citation, a tenant files documents for judicial or arbitration proceeding involving the issue of tenantability, or after receiving judgment.

Landlords who threaten or implement retaliatory measures against the lessee, including reporting immigration status, eviction, rent increase, or service decreases can be liable for damages incurred by the lessee, a fine of $100-$2,000, and the lessee’s legal fees.

Although not stated in the statute, the landlord is responsible for exterminating bed bug infestations before a tenant moves in. The tenant is responsible for a bed bug infestation that occurs after they move in. However, landlords are required to disclose bed bug infestations within the last 12 months.

The national average cost for professional bed bug treatment is $917 to $1,917. Treating an isolated infestation can cost as little as $308, but eradicating a large-scale infestation can cost as much as $5,267. In extreme cases, the cost can skyrocket to $50,000. 

Bed Bugs in California Cities and Regions

bed bug sitting on skin
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Bed bugs are all over California, but some areas are worse than others. Let’s take a look at some regions where bed bugs are particularly bothersome.

Los Angeles Bed Bugs

Los Angeles: The City of Angels is also the city of bed bugs. Bed bugs go where the people are, so it’s no surprise that the second-largest city in the country lands at No. 2 on Pest Gnome’s ranking of 2024’s Worst Cities for Bed Bug Infestations. From mansions in Hollywood Hills to rinky-dink motels, bed bugs are all over Los Angeles.

San Francisco Bed Bugs

San Francisco also has a big problem with these tiny pests, coming in at No. 5 on our ranking of 2024’s Worst Cities for Bed Bug Infestations. Baghdad by the Bay could also be called Bed Bugs by the Bay.

Worth Noting: San Francisco has enacted it’s own regulations on top of CA laws. If you need to report a problem in San Francisco, call 311. In San Francisco, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to secure the services of a bed bug professional, not the tenant’s.

Sacramento Bed Bugs

Sacramento: According to Sacramento County Code Enforcement, bed bugs are surging in the area, which is likely due to the city’s population growth. With more people moving in, it makes sense that bed bugs are moving to the area.

Santa Clarita Bed Bugs

Santa Clarita Diet? — For bed bugs, that’s people. Located less than an hour from downtown Los Angeles, you can find these pesky parasitic pests in Santa Clarita’s stores, hospitals, public transportation, and even at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Santa Clarita is known to attract filmmakers and travelers, but that means it attracts bed bugs, too.

To minimize the risk of bed bug infestation, take precautions when traveling or using public spaces.

Van Nuys Bed Bugs

Van Nuys, a district in Northwest Los Angeles, is home to lovely parks and coffee shops — and itchy bed bugs. A lot of travelers to and from Van Nuys means bed bugs can easily hitch a ride on suitcases, which is one of the most common ways that bed bugs are introduced into the home.

Southern California Bed Bugs

Southern California has one of the highest populations in the country, so it also has one of the highest bed bug populations. San Diego, for example, finished No. 8 on our list of cities most at risk for bed bug infestations.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in California

bed bug on a white wall
Photo Credit: Yxyv / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Bed bugs are not easy to get rid of, but if you want to try DIY methods in your California home or office, arm yourself with these or similar products. Note: These bed bug removal methods are more likely to be effective if your infestation is small. 

  • Hot Shot Bed Bug Killer with Egg Kill: Along with bed bugs, this product targets eggs too. It has a 4.1 rating, is water-based, and can be used indoors. The manufacturers recommend using it as a comprehensive approach to getting rid of bed bugs. It costs about $11 per gallon.
  • MGK 1852 Crossfire Concentrate: This product is formulated to kill bed bugs with pesticide resistance. It works on bed bugs in all stages, including eggs. It has an impressive 4.7 rating and it’s easy to mix. It costs about $40 for 13 ounces.
  • Bed Bug Killer by EcoRaider: This is an eco-friendly, child and pest-safe option. The manufacturer claims “According to the Entomological Society of America Journal, it’s the only natural product that kills bed bugs with 100% efficacy publication.” It costs about $75 for 128 ounces.

Bed bug tenacity means that you’ll likely need professional bed bug treatment. Bed bug exterminators typically use one to all of these options:

FAQ About Bed Bugs in California

What California bugs can be mistaken for bed bugs?

Lots of California bugs can be mistaken for bed bugs, including baby cockroaches, ticks, fleas, spider beetles, carpet beetles, and bat bugs.

Who’s most at risk for getting bed bugs in California?

California residents who travel frequently are most at risk for dealing with bed bugs. Travelers can pick up a bed bug hitchhiker from taxis (and Uber and Lyft rides), airplanes, and especially from hotels, motels, and vacation rentals.

When are bed bugs most active in California?

Bed bugs are active year-round and don’t have a “peak season.” However, there’s often an uptick in infestations from June through October. The reason for this uptick is summer travel. When you return from your family fun, you may have a bed bug stowaway that you may not detect until a few months later.

Does the California climate affect bed bugs?

No, the California climate doesn’t affect bed bugs because bed bugs live almost exclusively indoors. But even outside, bed bugs can survive temperatures up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as just above freezing.

DIY or Hire a Bed Bug Exterminator?

If you catch an infestation early, you may be able to get rid of bed bugs on your own with DIY pesticides. However, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and DIY bed bug elimination requires a lot of work, being vigilant, and no guarantee that you’ll be successful.

That’s why homeowners all over California hire pest cointrol professionals to solve their bed bug problems.

Finding an affordable, effective, professional pest control company is arguably more frustrating than dealing with the bed bugs yourself. That’s where Pest Gnome can help. We connect you with local bed bug exterminators who know the right treatment to get rid of bed bugs in your California home or office.

Pest Gnome participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other retailer affiliate programs. Pest Gnome may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.

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Nicki DeStasi

Nicki DeStasi is a writer, author, and teacher who grew up in western Massachusetts and currently resides in the Austin area. She enjoys flower and vegetable gardening, reading, cooking, listening to true-crime podcasts, and spending time with her husband, three children, dog, and cat.