As civilization expanded, bed bugs spread throughout Europe and Asia, reaching Italy by 100 A.D., China by 600 A.D., and Germany and France in the 1200s and 1400s. Heat generated from sleeping and cooking fires allowed the bugs to live comfortably both in castles of the wealthy and huts of the working class.
The poor, however, suffered the most; an observation made in the 15th century and attributed to a lack of vigilant cleaning: “For they do not breed in beds of which the linen and straw is frequently changed, as in the houses of the rich” (DeAnimalibus Insectes, 1603).
Bed bugs were first reported in England in 1583, but were probably there earlier. Soon after, they hitchhiked their way to the Americas with European explorers and settlers. Aided by commerce, infestations initially arose in bustling seaport towns, appearing farther inland later on.