Facts About Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small insects that feed parasitically on humans and other animals. They are sometimes referred to by their scientific name, Cimicidae. Although they typically prefer to feed on human blood, they are known to feed on any warm blooded animal, such as dogs.

When a bed bug feeds on a human, many different health effects can result. The most common is skin rashes and bite marks. A select number of people can develop severe allergic reactions. They have also been known to cause psychological effects, including anxiety and depression.

Bed bugs have lived with human beings for thousands of years. In the Western world, they were almost completely eliminated around 1940. However, in the past decade they have been making a large comeback. The reasons for this aren’t entirely clear. One reason is that people travel today more than ever, which means that the bugs can easily move from one country to another. Used furniture and bedding has also become more popular, which can facilitate the transfer of bed bugs. They have also become increasingly resistant to many traditional forms of pesticides.

The name “bed bug” comes from the fact that these critters most preferred living area is in and around the beds of human beings. However, they can often be found living in and among other areas of homes, such as couches, chairs, and floorboards. They prefer to feed at night when the host is sleeping or very still. Because of this, they are mostly active at night, but they can adjust to the sleeping habits of their host.

Facts About Bed Bugs Appearance

Bed bugs are typically a brownish or reddish color. They will particularly take on a more reddish appearance after they have fed and are full of human blood. Adults are about half a centimeter in length, and about 2 millimeters in width. Younger bed bugs, sometimes known as nymphs, are a bit lighter in color, almost to the point where you can see through them. As they mature, they will grow larger and darker.

Bed bugs can live for quite a long time, but it is dependent upon the particular species. The communicate silently using chemical and pheromone communication. Although this makes it difficult for humans to detect them, dogs can be trained to pick up on this subtle communication.

Bed bugs are extremely resilient to many different temperatures and environments, but that doesn’t mean that they are impossible to kill. In fact, it has been shown many times that if they are exposed to a temperature of minus 26 degrees F, they will die after 15 minutes. It is even easier to kill them with heat, as they will die after 7 minutes if the environmental temperature exceeds 115 degrees F.

How They Feed

The only source of food for bed bugs is the blood of warm-blooded mammals. Without a source of blood, they will soon die. They seek out and find human blood to suck by tracking carbon dioxide emissions, body heat, and human pheromones.

When a bed bug sucks blood, it uses two separate tubes that it injects into the host’s body. The first tube injects an anesthetic so that the human cannot feel the bug and an anticoagulant so that the blood will not quickly clot. The other tube sucks blood from the human body into the bug’s body. This entire process only takes about 5 to 10 minutes. After this time, it quickly retreats to its hiding place, and it will not need to feed again for several days.

Although bed bugs prefer to feed about once a week, they can survive without any blood for up to a year. Even if a bed remains unoccupied for many months, the bugs can bide their time and wait for the host to return. The newer strains of bed bugs that are more resistant to the older pesticides are not as hardy and will sometimes perish after only 2 months of no blood.

Bed bugs have sometimes been used to solve crimes, since traces of DNA can remain in their bodies for up to 90 days. This can prove that a particular person has been sleeping in a particular bed.

How to Eradicate Bed Bugs

Many techniques are used to manage bed bug infestations. Pesticides have traditionally been a popular technique, but there are other non-chemical approaches that can be highly effective. Many of the pesticides used in the middle of the 20th century have been banned because they have been found to have adverse health effects. This includes DDT, which was one of the most effective ways to eradicate bed bugs. Lately, safer techniques such as wrapping the mattress or treating with heat are increasingly recommended.

Stages of Life

Bed bugs go through multiple stages of life before they become full adults. They must often molt their skin as they grow out of it, and they will leave a clear shell behind when they do this.

Facts About Bed Bug Bites

When a person becomes bit by bed bugs, there are many symptoms that may occur. The bites can appear similar to a pimple or a spider bite, but they typically take much longer to heal. Sometimes the bites can develop into a large rash, especially if the host has an allergic reaction. Many adverse psychological effects can also occur. Many people grow worrisome of the bugs that they know are in their bed but they cannot do anything about it. This can develop into anxiety disorders if left untreated. Although bed bugs can become infected with human diseases, it is rare that they actually transfer these diseases to another person.

How Bed Bug Infestations Occur

There are many ways that bed bugs can get into a person’s home and bed. Often they are transferred into the home on clothing, on pets, or in luggage. It is also possible to infect a home by introducing a used piece of furniture. In apartment dwellings, they can sometimes pass through the walls if your neighbor’s home has bed bugs. Wild animals, like bats or rodents can also transfer bed bugs into a home. Finally, even a short term visitor might bring bugs into your home if his clothing is infected.

How to Detect Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs are notoriously difficult to spot. They like to hide in dark, difficult to reach places. It is sometimes possible to visually see their eggs, which they like to lay in the seams of fabric. Often people will suspect that they have bugs if they find a discarded molt or blood stains on their sheets.

Although it is possible to find a lone bed bug in a home, this is rare. Usually, they like to congregate in larger numbers. They will always try to live in an area where they will have easy access to a host, which is usually near beds, couches, and computer chairs. If there is a large amount of clutter near a bed, this is also a favorite spot for bed bugs to hide. They will similarly always lay their eggs near the same areas.

If you have a keen sense of smell, then you may be able to recognize a bed bug infestation by a almond or raspberry odor. Dogs can be trained to pick up on this subtle smell with a high degree of accuracy. Despite the proven success of dogs in detecting nests, there are only around a hundred of these dogs currently being utilized in the United States. However, as these insects become more of a problem, this number is expected to rise.

Resistance to Chemicals

A few populations of these insects have developed resistance to the chemicals and pesticides that were widely used to kill them in the past. This is particularly true in the state of Arizona, where a highly resistant strain has developed. However, many companies are continuing to develop and to test new chemical methods that are effective at killing these parasites.

The amount of resistance to pesticides has been dramatically increasing over the past decade. Compared to bed bugs raised in laboratories which have had no prior exposure to pesticides, they common strains of these bugs that are found in homes have been found to resist pesticides at a rate of nearly 1000-fold.

When the parasites were largely eliminated from human life in the 40s and 50s, it appears that they were forced to survive on other warm-blooded animals such as bats and birds. Over this time, they were able to mutate enough that they have been able to make their way back into the human world.

Natural Predators

Although it may seem like bed bugs have an easy life sucking the blood of sleeping humans, they face danger of their own on a daily basis. If they are detected by their host, they will often be killed on the spot. Apart from this danger, they also must worry about spiders, cockroaches, ants, centipedes, and mites.

Facts About Bed Bugs Epidemics

Bed bugs have always been common in third-world countries, but they have been much rarer in the more developed countries ever since they were largely eliminated around the 1940s and 1950s. However, that has been rapidly changing in the past decade or two. Scientists have posited many explanations for this. One reason may be the increased amount of worldwide travel, particularly to the third-world. Another reason may be the increased pesticide resistance.

The species that is best suited to live among humans is called Cimex lectularius. This species thrives in temperate zones, like those found in much of North America. There are several other strains of bed bugs that can also feed off of humans, but they often prefer to feed of of other animals like bats and poultry when they are given a chance.

Facts About Bed Bugs Origins

In all probability, bed bugs probably originated with and began feeding on humans in the middle east. Since they often are found in caves feeding on bats, it has been hypothesized that the earliest human bed bugs were transferred from bats when humans were still in the caveman stage of their existence.

Bed bugs have been mentioned in history books dating back to antiquity. The ancient Greeks wrote about them extensively, and Aristotle even mentioned them in his writings. Many people in the past believed that they had practical medicinal uses. They were sometimes used to treat ear infections, hysteria, and snake bites. During the middle ages, writers in France, Germany, and England all extensively discussed the problem of bed bugs.

Apart from a few instances in which they were used for medicinal purposes, people have mostly always considered them to be a nuisance. As such, many techniques were implemented in an attempt to control and eradicate them. Black pepper, fungi, smoke, cannabis and other plant extracts have been used to treat them.

Certain types of soil have also been used to kill bed bugs. Diatomaceous earth, in particular, has been a popular treatment for hundreds of years. This is notable because it remains an effective way to kill the parasites even today. It remains popular largely because it is nontoxic, but it carries the downside of taking a long time to kill the insects.

Another method used in the past was to put baskets or scattered leaves around the beds. In the morning, these baskets and leaves were collected and burned in order to kill the bugs that had become trapped within them. Although this method is not too effective at completely eradicating a population of bed bugs, it can keep the population under control and manageable.

In the United States and Europe, bed bugs were extremely common throughout all households all the way through the Great Depression and World War II. A large majority of houses had at least some degree of infestation. General MacArthur noted during World War II that bed bugs were by far the greatest nuisance that the Allied Forces had to face.

Beginning in the 1940s, there were tremendous advances in pesticide technologies that allowed countries in the developed world to virtually completely eliminate the scourge of bed bugs. This has all changed in recent years. The full reasons are unclear, but some think that it was due to complacency. Although humans have had to deal with them for thousands of years, the past 2 or three generations were relatively spoiled and had no experience with them.

It is possible that the common phrase “Goodnight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” will once again become more than a meaningless phrase that we say to each other when it is time to turn out the lights.

Dealing With Bed Bugs:

Unfortunately, bed bugs are everywhere. They can travel with you in your bag, your clothes or even on your body, making these little pests hard to deal with and get rid of. They are incredibly resilient, able to withstand extreme variations in temperatures and can survive for over a year without feeding. They only ever emerge at night, too, so how do you kill bed bugs?
You need a great deal of patience and perseverance to kill bed bugs. They can hide in the tiniest of wall cracks and can breed extremely quickly, with female bed bugs laying 300 eggs in their lifetime which take only 10 days to hatch. As you can imagine, getting rid of these little critters is not easy and very hard to do without enlisting the help of professionals.

Pest Control Services, or ‘exterminators’ will have plenty of ways and means to kill bed bugs, but there is some preparation you will need to do before they arrive. You will probably need to make space for them to work by piling up furniture and moving it away from walls and other places where bed bugs like to hide. Use a carpet cleaner such as a steam cleaner to thoroughly wash all your carpets and any rugs you might have. Exterminators will probably recommend throwing away any infested mattresses, pillows and cushions as the materials used in them are very dense and therefore hard to rid of bed bugs.

Exterminators will have a veritable battery of sprays, chemicals and insecticidal dusts designed specifically to kill bed bugs and will treat every surface in your home that they feel may harbour them, particularly wall cracks, under the skirting boards, and around the frame of beds and tables. They will also give you tips on how to prevent further infestation, how to control infestation if it does occur, and how to kill bed bugs, although if you do become overrun again it’s probably best to call in the professionals.

Prevention is better than cure, so how can you prevent further infestations? Make yourself aware of the signs of bed bugs, the first of which is unfortunately going to be bites. At maturity a bed bug is around 5mm in length and a brown/gold colour, turning darker after they have fed so easier to spot but not nice to know that it’s your blood they have feasted upon. You will also notice in the crevices in and around your bed that there may be tiny bloodstains, which is the bed bug’s faecal matter. The earlier you spot these signs, the better.

You should also move your bed away from the wall as bed bugs can fall onto your bed after climbing up the wall. Put the bottom of each of the legs of your bed into a tiny pot of oil, this will stop bed bugs climbing up the legs into your bed. When travelling, check all bedding for signs of bed bugs.  When you learn to avoid them, you are half way to avoiding having to pay a fortune to kill bed bugs.