We all hate bed bugs. The idea of something creeping through our sheets while we are asleep definitely makes us cringe in terror. Not to mention their capabilities of sucking blood out of our system, bed bugs are like mutants of mosquitoes and lice. None of us wants them, especially on our beds!
To make sure that we are not sleeping beside bed bugs, it is imperative to know the enemy; its face, its ways and its strategies. This article aims to let you know anything and everything about bed bugs.
What do bed bugs look like?
You might want to know the answer in the question, “What do bed bugs look like?” Now, bed bugs, like any other insects, come in different shapes and sizes. However, the most usual bed bugs found in our beds are those oval-shaped ones, with flat bodies and of brown color.
Adult bed bugs have vestigial wings, and turn reddish after feeding. They grow up to 4-5 mm in length and 1.5-3 mm in width, enough for our naked eyes to spot. Newly-hatched eggs, or nymphs, as we call them, are translucent and have lighter color. Their pigment change to bright red the minute they consume their meal. Their translucency is due to the continuous molting they undergo until they reach maturity. Their size is akin to an apple seed or the head of a pin.
What do bed bugs eat?
Bed bugs are parasite, and it is given that parasites feed on their hosts. Who are their hosts? Humans and their blood.
This type of insect is hematophagous. In a non-scientific word, they suck blood out of our bodies to live. You might compare them to mosquitoes by knowing this, but bed bugs are worse. Female mosquitoes are the only ones who need to suck blood to reproduce and give nourishment to their eggs. No need to fear the men of their kind, for they only suck plant saps for food. In the case of bed bugs, on the other hand, all of them consume human blood as food. So, if ever your bed is infected of bed bugs, may they be male or female, they will all consume your blood.
Why the bed?
It could have been your drawers. It could have been the floor. It could have been your sink. But why, in all of the possible location in your house, should they thrive in the place where you finally get to rest?
They don’t want to share your pillow, nor sleep on your bed. They in fact, want the same thing from your bed- warmth. Bed bugs thrive on warm places, and your bed is just the best habitat for them. Your bed is also conducive because you stay there for hours, unconscious and unaware of their presence. Imagine your house with free food right on your lawn; that’s exactly how we all look like to them. They can eat whenever they want and reproduce offspring easily because all the necessary ingredients for them to survive are there.
How to know that bed bugs are there?
Bed bugs often go unnoticed. Usually, when people wake up with red blisters on their face, neck, legs, arms, hands or feet, they will think that they have allergies. Bed bugs’ bite has this effect on our body. Some bites may be visible, but others can be small and imperceptible. The first thing that the victim will feel from the swollen blisters is a burning sensation accompanied with itchiness. Most people go and consult the doctor, then they will prescribe some medicines for allergies, but the problem seems to persist. Still, they wake up with red, itchy blisters.
This is the best time to start wondering why the blisters and the swelling never stops coming. If the medicines you are taking are not enough to get rid of this annoying blisters, look for blood smears on your bed, and the pattern of them on your body. If smears are present and the blisters are located on the exposed parts of your body when you are sleeping, there might be some bed bugs living in your bed.
The size of their bite may differ from a person to another. Instantly after piercing their host with rostrum or their ‘beak’, they will also inject the anti-coagulant in their saliva to it. They will suck the blood out of our system for 5-10 minutes. Our bodies have unique reactions to anti-coagulants and others sting longer than others. This causes the various sizes of bed bugs’ bites.
Why do bed bugs bite?
Biting human’s skin is the only method they know to extract blood from us. Even though adult bed bugs may survive for five months without feeding, and nymphs can still live even if they haven’t eaten since they have molted, they feed on us as often as possible. Surely, the do not know how to crave, but they also have no intentions of starving themselves especially if the hosts are around.
Sucking blood is not easy for them either. Before eating, they must pierce their rostrum first, and then, be lucky enough to find a blood vessel where they can get blood. It is not always that they bump into a vessel, and this may be the answer to your inquiries about bites that are adjacent or very near to each other. If the bed bug was not able to successfully suck on a blood vessel, it would search for another until it finds one. No need to conclude that 10 blisters is equal to 10 bed bugs. Your enemy might only be one.
Do bed bugs carry diseases?
Blood-sucking parasites are often bearer of diseases and causes of outbreaks. You might want to know if when you are bitten by a bed bug, you are already infected with malaria or typhoid fever. No, you are not.
Bed bugs may carry microorganisms, but there are no well-documented diseases spread by bed bugs. Thank God they don’t. One less thing to worry about, right? But it doesn’t erase the fact that it is not impossible to get sick because of their bite. If you have a failing immune system, you are more susceptible to be infected by the bacteria and viruses they could bring.
Other possible distress that you may suffer from bed bugs is the psychological disturbance their presence can give. Who could ever sleep soundly with the fear of being bitten by such heinous insect? The remnants they left in terms of itchy bites, molted skins and their eggs can also add up to your irritation.
Do bed bugs fly?
When you have caught a bed bug and study its physical appearance, you will see a pair of wing-like pads. You might have seen this to other bugs and bees, perhaps. To them, wings enable these insects to jump to long distances and give them the power of flight. The things you see are also called wings, and they are indeed wings, but they are only vestigial.
Bed bugs’ wings cannot be used for jumping or moreover, flying. Their light weights may allow them to glide from an elevated position to a lower one, but this mechanism is not flying. The way they transfer from one host to another is crawling, like those of lice whose feeding mechanisms are the same as bed bugs.
Where do they come from?
Bed bugs, believe it or not, may be brought by humans, too. They can also prey on animals, but they prefer human blood more, and thus making them stay on luggage, pockets or purses. They are therefore usually transported by people simply because they cling to their host as much as possible.
What do they fear?
Bed bugs hate clean and cool places. Their warm-blooded nature has caused this. As a part of the Cimcidae family (group of parasitic insects), they naturally live and breed in warm places, hence their love of beds, curtains, and human body. They also fear cockroaches, spiders and ants because of the obvious reason that the aforementioned insects are much bigger than bed bugs; making bed bugs their prey.
Bed bug management
We all know that where they came from is only half as important as to how we could steer clear from bed bugs infestation. If you are a man of science and believes strongly in the systematized and natural method of food chain, you might think that other bigger insects such as cockroaches and spiders could help you. But, of course, none of us wanted them to thrive in our houses too. Here are other ways to get rid of bed bugs.
Pyrethroids, Dichlorvos, and Malathion are examples of pesticides which are proven to be effective on eradicating bed bugs. However, the more we use pesticides, the more they learn to adjust and get used to its presence. Resistance of pesticides has been increasing over time, and the people who use often use pesticides are the ones getting harmed because they tend to inhale it.
If you know a person or two who is an expert of putting an end to your bed bug infestation problem, you might as well ask their help. Surely, you can buy pesticides on Walmart or any nearby grocery stores, but let’s face it, you don’t know if it would work or not. If it is possible to contact a pest control team as soon as bed bug infestation is confirmed, it is the best and most practical way to solve your problem.
Control the bed bugs
Inspecting your house to confirm if bed bugs do live with your family is the best first step to take. And then of course, if you cannot eradicate them all by yourself, you might as well call and ask the pest control team near your area to help you with your problem. Now that professionals have already done their job, doing your part after is important.
If you don’t want your house to be once again be infested by these bed bugs, make sure that your beds, couches, and all the possible areas where they could thrive should be cleaned. Vacuuming of areas such as carpets and curtains, and sterilizing your mattresses in a regular manner can surely help in making sure that your house is bed-bugs free!
Personal hygiene is also needed. Aside from taking as much bath as needed, cleaning up your clothes, whether worn or still in the closet is important. Remember that people are the primary carrier of bed bugs, so cleaning up ourselves is vital to be sure that we do are not the cause of another bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs may only be as big as an apple seed, but they bring big problems to us human beings. Their existence is harmless, unless of course, they exist near us. Let us not give them enough reasons and utmost comfort to live in our beds. They might not transfer diseases now, but, the way they have evolved into pests who are not affected by pesticides is enough reason to panic.
There are a lot of professionals who can help you with this problem. But most of all, let us not forget that impeccable hygiene and cleanliness will definitely be an important factor and can put an end to their lives. If we clean our personal space, we will not only get rid of bed bugs but other filthy insects such as cockroaches and mosquitoes too. No, this article is not forcing you, nor asking you to be obsessed with cleanliness. We are only emphasizing the importance of knowing bed bugs, how they live, why they thrive and why tidying up is vital for bed-bug removal because it is impossible for us not to sleep. Our body needs to rest, and we want to do it, we want to lie on the most comfortable bed we have. We cannot do that if bed-bugs are initially sleeping in there. So, as early as possible, be a keen observer of bed-bugs, know the needed information about bed-bug infestation and how to end it, and start making your house too clean for them to thrive.
Anyways, we all hate bed-bugs.