Facts About Bed Bugs
Bed bugs have been haunting people while they sleep for over 3,000 years. Even people in Ancient Greece had bed bug problems. It is believed that colonists accidentally brought bed bugs to North America in the 1800s. These blood-thirsty hitchhiking insects probably traveled in people’s clothing, luggage and furniture. By the 1950s bed bug problems had considerably dwindled. New pesticides, better household cleaning methods and regulations involving the sale of used furniture helped decrease bed bug infestations. In recent years the bed bug population has exploded, probably from increased international travel and commerce, the shift away from heavy spraying of pesticides to more targeted pest management strategies, and lack of awareness about how to prevent bringing bed bugs home.
Bed Bug Infestations
Bed bugs feed at night and hide during the day. They prefer dark, protected areas and will seek shelter around the seams and tags of mattresses and in the crevices of the bed frame. As infestations become larger you can find bed bugs hiding in a variety of areas that have fabric, paper and wood surfaces such as in the crevices along baseboards, beneath wall-to-wall carpeting, behind electrical outlets, among the folds of curtains, and under loose wallpaper. They have even been found in artwork and pictures hanging on the wall, a phone receiver and a prosthetic leg.
The primary hosts for bed bugs are humans although they will feed on other animals like cats, dogs, birds or rodents if necessary. They prefer to eat while people sleep at night. Bed bugs pierce skin with their beak-like mouthparts and a fluid in their saliva prevents the blood from clotting so they can get more of it. Depending on its age, a bed bug will feed anywhere from three to fifteen minutes. Once it is full the bed bug will find a crack or crevice where it can relax and digest.
Bed bugs proliferate quickly, a female bed bug will usually lay between 1 and 5 eggs a day and can sometimes lay up to 12. Eggs are laid in protected crevices where a sticky coating helps them attach to the surface. Bed bugs will seek a blood meal as soon as they hatch. Once they feed, Bed bugs can molt. After molting five times, bed bugs reach adulthood. It can take a bed bug 21 to 120 days to go from an egg to an adult. The warmer the temperature the quicker the development. A bed bug will usually live up to a year and a half.
Types of Bed Bugs
Bed Bug Identification
Also known as wall lice, red coats and mahogany flats, bed bugs are flat, oval-shaped insects that go from brown to reddish-brown in color after a blood meal. Their shape helps them easily slip into and hide in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs have mouthparts made for piercing and sucking. Bed bug nymphs look like miniature versions of adults and begin translucent and grow more brown as they age.
Bed Bugs In The Home & The Car
Tiny blood spots on your pajamas, bedding and mattress from crushed bugs or darker stains from excrement are both signs of a bed bug problem. You may also notice eggshells and shed skins near crevices in the headboard, along the piping of the mattress and other places where these pests like to hide. With large infestations you may smell an offensively sweet odor that comes from the bed bugs’ scent glands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do bed bugs bite?
Bed bugs prefer to bite people at night, while they’re asleep. The initial bed bug bite is usually painless and they release saliva into the wound to prevent the blood from clotting. A bed bug will usually feed for about 15 minutes before falling off to digest its meal.
What do bed bug bites look like?
Bed bug bites usually form itchy welts. The bites are usually in clusters of three.
Are there other kinds of bed bugs?
The common bed bug that is featured in this article is the usual culprit when it comes to bed bug infestations, but there are other species of this notorious blood-sucking insect. The tropical bed bug is common in Florida. The bat bug, a parasite of bats, has been known to infest homes that have bat problems. Similarly, the swallow bug and poultry bug, which are parasites of birds, have occasionally invaded houses that have bird problems.
What are the Benefits of Professional Bed Bug Pest Control?
Bed bugs are not a pest you want to mess around with. Improper treatment of bed bugs can make these insects move to other areas of the house or building or hide deeper in cracks and crevices, making the problem worse. As soon as you see bed bugs call a pest management professional.