Everything You Need to Know About Bed Bugs
The adult bed bug is a small, brown (to reddish brown when fed), oval-shaped parasitic insect, typically about 4 - 5mm long and 1.5 – 3mm wide. They have a front pair of wings but fortunately cannot fly. Young bed bugs are called nymphs, they are smaller and appear translucent in colour. Young ones are almost impossible to see and the adults are hiding more than well. The only thing that can get them out of their cover is the warmth of the blood rushing through our bodies.
- General Information on Bed Bugs
- What Do Bed Bugs Look Like
- Life Span and Reproduction of Bed Bugs
- What Do Bed Bugs Eat?
- Where Do Bed Bugs Live?
- How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
- What Are the Signs of Infestation?
- Are Bed Bugs a Health Hazard?
- How Can I Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation?
- How Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that suck the blood out of you while you sleep. You can recognise them by their flat abdomens and long thin legs. This parasite is super small and can be hard to see, you may need to use a magnifying glass or your phone's camera zoom. The younglings (Nymphs) are pale, almost white, which makes them extra hard to spot. The adults have a light brown colour. All bedbugs change colour when fed. The younglings become bright right, and the adults turn dark brown or even black, depending on their meal.
A bed bug begins its life and feeding right after hatching. The eggs of the bed bug are white in colour and also very small. The female hides deep in cracks and cushions to lay her eggs somewhere safe. A single female can lay up to the astonishing 500 eggs during her lifetime, but that number is achievable only in perfect conditions. The ordinary amount is roughly 250, which is again a substantial number of baby bed bugs. The eggs of this parasite will hatch in around two weeks. The newly hatched nymphs are a bit smaller than the adults and are sexually immature. Within five weeks of feeding the nymphs will turn into active adults and would be ready to reproduce.
An interesting fact is that the female bed bugs are being fertilized through the (Traumatic insemination) method. In this method, the male penetrates the female abdomen with its genitalia and inseminates her. It sometimes leads to infections and strong reactions of the immune system. Despite the pain and the aftermath, this method might cause, female bed bugs don't show any signs of trying to avoid mating with males. It is believed that insects don't actually feel pain, and this is not the only observation backing this theory.
Bed bugs are parasites and feed exclusively on blood. The common bed bug (Cimex lactularius) is most famous due to its preference only for human blood. However, if a human is not available they will gladly feast on any other warm-blooded creature, such as your pet. As mosquitoes, bed bugs are mainly attracted by the carbon dioxide which people release. Nonetheless, bed bugs are known for being able to survive from 5 months up to a year (provided the right conditions) without feeding on blood.
Bed bugs prefer damp conditions; dark and narrow locations, hidden from the human eye. They live near their hosts, but they prefer to immediately return to their safe place after feeding. Such locations include:
Bed bugs are tricky, hitch-hiking little bugs. They can hide in any dark, hidden spot and hop onto another. Meaning, that you can "catch" bed bugs virtually anywhere if you have contact with someone who is experiencing a present bed bug infestation.
- Buses, locker rooms or gyms are such places endangered by random people with unknown bed bug background.
- Other widely known places where you can get bed bugs are hotels. Thankfully, there's such a thing as customer reviews to weed out all (or most of all) bed bug infested accommodations.
- Planes and cars are places you probably haven't thought of as dangerous bed bug wise, however, "catching" bed bugs in these places is actually common and they should be feared as much as infested hotel rooms.
Bed bugs are active at night, the peak hours of activity are between 10pm and 6am. This makes live detection somewhat tiring. Other evidence of bed bugs presence include bite marks, faecal matter in the form of small black droppings on and near the bed, shed exoskeletons from nymphs developing to adults are also sign of a growing infestation.
Bed bugs can be infected by at least 28 human pathogens, but no study has ever found that these pathogens can be transmitted from bed bugs to human beings. However, bed bugs are not harmless. They can induce a number of health effects from skin rashes and allergies to psychological effects.
Bed bugs can be transported anywhere in luggage, second hand clothing or furniture, clothes from infested homes and other similar cases. Making it really easy to spread bed bug infestations in other properties. Be careful what you bring inside your house and dispose of any materials you suspect to be carriers of bed bugs.
Aside from do-it-yourself treatments you can find over the internet, which are not reliable and might only spark up the infestation, there is very little you can do. Except calling a professional bed bug exterminator. The standard treatment is spraying with government-approved insecticide. It should be applied to all cracks, crevices, where there is a suspicion of bed bug presence or a documented infestation. This includes bed frames, floors, skirting boards, nightstands and etc. Mattresses can be lightly sprayed with a water-diluted spray. All bedding and linen should be washed at maximum temperatures, to eradicate any bugs or eggs left.
Follow the instructions of your pest control technician and avoid vacuum cleaning for about 4 days. After the bed bug treatment, be sure to monitor the infested spaces for a couple of weeks to ensure its success rate and prevent any future re-infestations.
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