Common bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are pests that feed primarily on human blood. Other strains of bed bugs will also feed on the blood of other warm-blooded animals, such as cats and dogs.
Bed bugs are tiny, flat, oval-shaped insects that range in size from 1 and 7 mm. Generally, they’re brownish in color; however, bed bugs can take on a reddish color after consuming blood and their bodies have swollen.
Bed bugs do not have wings and, therefore, do not fly. However, they move very quickly. Bed bugs also multiply rapidly as females can lay hundreds of eggs, with each egg being not much bigger than a speck of dust or grain of sand. This means you could be looking at hundreds of bed bug eggs without realizing it. Under the right conditions, a nymph can fully develop into an adult bed bug in as little as a month. And the life span of a bed bug can last 6 to 12 months.
Where do bed bugs come from?
Because bed bugs feed on humans and warm-blooded animals, they are attracted to places where potential hosts reside. These pests will use human odors, body heat, and carbon dioxide to detect humans. Bed bugs can end up in your home in any number of ways. Here are some common scenarios that may explain how bed bugs have ended up in your home.
- If you visit an infested hotel, you can bring home a bed bag if it hides in your luggage or attaches itself to your clothing.
- If a child’s school has bed bugs hiding in wall cracks, frames, and furniture, the pest can hide in a school bag and be carried into the child’s home.
- A pet may carry a bed bug in from outdoors or roll around in an area infested with bed bugs.
- A bed bug may attach itself to your clothing. So if you sit somewhere infested with bed bugs, the insect may cling to your clothes, and you end up bringing it home. Bed bugs may be hiding in the upholstery of a taxi’s backseat or the seats at a restaurant or movie theater.
- Bed bugs can also travel long distances, moving and laying eggs across all the rooms in a multi-unit building.
- Used furniture can also contain bed bug infestations. The pests may be hiding deep in the cushions, cracks, panels, and seams. So if you’re going to buy used furniture, make sure to thoroughly check for bed bugs before bringing the piece into your home.
How to Identify Bed Bugs
Unfortunately, visible signs of bed bugs mean that the infestation has gotten worse. Bed bugs survive by keeping themselves well hidden. If you’re searching for bed bugs in your home, you should start with your bed and pay close attention to the mattress, box spring, bed sheets, furniture, bed linens, seams, bed frame, and all the crevices where these tiny creatures can hide. Here are some ways to identify a bed bug infestation:
- Visible signs. Adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, especially when they’re all gathered together. The bed bug resembles a “true bug;” it has three body parts and six legs. You will rarely find a lone bed bug. Female bed bugs are larger than males. Because of their size, color, and shape, bed bugs resemble apple seeds. Therefore, seeing visible signs of bed bugs in the open means there are probably already hundreds, if not thousands, in your home.
- Dark and smelly stains on sheets. The dark stains on sheets can be bed bug feces or blood.
- An unpleasant odor. Bed bugs’ glands give off a certain musty scent. Some have described it as sweet, while others compare it to the smell of coriander. People with a keen sense of smell can detect it right away. Being able to smell bed bugs in your home implicates a large infestation.
- Bed bug residue. Bed bugs shed their shells or skin, which is left behind as they grow from babies to adults. This may be found in your mattress seams, box springs, and along crevices of furniture near where you sleep.
- Bed bug bites. Having bed bug bites is one of the most obvious indications that you have a bed bug problem. Bed bug bites look like red welts on the skin. Sometimes, bed bugs will feed in groups, so you can see several bites grouped together. Bed bug bite symptoms also vary depending on your sensitivity to them and how long they’ve been feeding for – but typically last between one day up to a week or more.
What attracts bed bugs to your home?
Bed bugs are attracted to your home because it is dark and warm, meaning they can survive in your home. More importantly, common bed bugs are attracted to your home because they feed on human blood. Therefore, bed bugs are drawn to any place that humans live and frequent, including hotels, cars, schools, and offices.
When do bed bugs bite?
Bed bugs are most active at night but not necessarily because they’re nocturnal. Experts believe they feed mostly at night because this is when humans are asleep in bed. Generally, bed bugs bite when they’re hungry, and their host is nearby. Bed bugs typically feed every five to ten days, but this can vary based on how much food is available in the environment.
The bedbug has an elongated mouth with four stylets that extend fully when feeding. This long mouth means that bed bugs can bite through clothing. The piercing mouthpart forms canals; one carries its saliva into the human’s wound while another canal carries the blood it takes from its host. One feeding can last between 3 and 10 minutes, during which a bed bug can take in up to six times its weight in blood.
A person bitten by a bedbug will often feel itchy or irritated at first, followed by swelling and redness. If the person has a severe allergic reaction to bed bug bites, they may have trouble breathing or experience hives.
Are bed bugs dangerous for health?
Bed bugs can be harmful to your physical wellbeing and mental health. Bed bugs are dangerous to your physical health because they can cause:
- Skin lesions and discomfort. Somewhat similar to a mosquito bite, bed bug bites are most common on parts of the body that are exposed, such as the arms, feet, legs, and face. While most lesions left behind by bed bug bites are between 2 and 5 mm in diameter, some can be 2 cm in diameter. Reaction to bed bug bites varies by person, with some having no to minimal discomfort while others can experience an intense itchy welt for days.
- Bacterial infections at the site of a bite. The intense itchiness of the bed bug bites may lead to scratching, which may lead to secondary bacterial infections such as ecthyma or cellulitis. The best way to treat a bite from a bed bug is by keeping the area clean. Over-the-counter medication may be helpful for pain relief and swelling (if needed). It’s also beneficial to apply hydrocortisone cream, which can help minimize the itchiness and prevent scratching and secondary infections. Other treatments include tea tree oil, baking soda paste, and lavender essential oils. If your symptoms persist or worsen after two weeks of treatment, seek medical intervention immediately!
- Chronic health conditions like asthma and allergies (like hay fever). Bed bugs can trigger asthmatic reactions, particularly when there is a bedbug infestation big enough to give off a musty odor or when their waste material is airborne.
- Mental health issues. Bed bugs can be harmful to your mental wellbeing because they make you feel:
• Frustrated when trying to get rid of them
• Anxious about where they could appear next
• Irritable or angry if someone in your home has been bitten by bedbugs, which may lead to stress and tension among family members.
- Sleep disruption. Knowing your home has a bed bug infestation is enough to make people lose sleep. You worry that you and your family will be bitten while you sleep. The quality of your sleep may also be disrupted by discomfort caused by existing bed bug bites.
Bed bugs can become a serious problem because they can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, they aren’t easy to spot because of their size and stealth. And by the time there are visible signs of them, it means the infestation has likely become quite large. Unfortunately, preventing bed bugs from ending up in your home or office is extremely challenging because of the bed bug’s uncanny ability to travel.
At VORTEX Bed Bug Solutions, we provide the best bed bug control by using only the most powerful bed bug heating equipment on the market. We can exterminate your Bed Bug problem in 24 hours. No Bed Bug survives our solution! From eggs to fully grown bed bugs, our solution covers all stages. We have the facilities, specialized equipment & workforce to get rid of all your bedbug concerns in Washington, D.C. – Baltimore, MD – Annapolis, MD – Eastern Shore, MD.