What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs (Cimex Lectularius) are tiny, flat parasitic bugs that feed off the blood of animals and people while they sleep. Reddish-brown in color, bed bugs are wingless and range in size from 1-7mm in size. After feeding, a bed bug can live for several months without another blood meal.
Where Are Bed Bugs Found?
Bed bugs are found around the world, in both developing countries and modern cities. Although bed bugs used to be considered a problem found only in poorer areas and undeveloped countries, they have recently begun spreading to parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs are non-discriminatory and have been found in some of the world’s finest five-star resorts and hotels, proving that their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
Bed bug infestations usually occur in the areas where people sleep, such as apartments, shelters, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dormitories. During the day, the hide in the seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dressers, and nightstands, or in the cracks and crevices of walls, behind wallpaper, or behind and under the clutter and items commonly found around a bed. Bed bugs can travel over 100 feet in a night but are usually found living within 8 feet of where people sleep.
Can Bed Bugs Spread Disease?
Bed bugs are not a public health hazard since they have not been proven to spread diseases. They are merely an annoyance that can lead to itching and lost sleep, although the itching can cause excessive scratching that increases the chance of secondary skin infections.
Do Bed Bugs Pose a Health Risk?
Bed Bug bites can affect people differently. Bite reactions range from small bite marks to serious allergic reactions. Some people may not even react to a bed bug bite. While bed bug bites pose no serious health risks and bed bugs are not considered dangerous, an allergic reaction to a bite may require medical attention.
How Do I Know if I Have Bed Bugs?
The first sign of a bed bug infestation is bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or other body parts upon waking. However, it may take up to 14 days for bite marks to develop in some people, so it’s important to be aware of other signs of an infestation, including
- bed bug exoskeletons, which are shed after molting
- bed bugs in the creases of mattresses and sheets
- blood spots on sheets and mattresses caused by their blood-filled fecal matter, and
- a sweet musty odor
How can I Tell if I’ve Been Bitten by a Bed Bug?
Bed bug bites are hard to identify unless you find a bed bug or see signs of an infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and anticoagulant that prevents a person from knowing they’ve been bitten. Unlike when they are bitten by a mosquito, most people do not know they’ve received a bed bug bit until the bite marks appear, which does not happen for one to several days after the initial bite. A bed bug bite mark is similar to that of a mosquito or flea. The area is slightly swollen and red and me be irritated and itchy. The bite marks may appear in a straight line or be random. Other bed bug bite symptoms may include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems related to scratching the bites. Some people may have no reaction to bed bug bites, while others may have severe adverse reactions, including enlarged bite marks, painful swelling, and, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
What Causes an Infestation?
Bed bugs can hide almost anywhere. Their flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and, since they can go for weeks without a blood meal, they can remain there for weeks. Bed bugs are usually transported as people travel from place to place, hiding in luggage, overnight bags, clothes, bedding, and furniture. Most people do not realize they are carrying bed bugs from one location to the next, bringing new infestations to every place they visit.
Who is at Risk for Bed Bugs?
Everyone is at risk for bed bugs! Since they are experts at hiding, it is almost impossible to know if the hotel you’re staying at, the relative who has come to visit, or the new apartment you just rented has a bed bug hiding somewhere. People who travel frequently or share living quarters and sleeping areas with other people are at a higher risk of being bitten by bed bugs and spreading an infestation.
How can I Treat and Prevent Bed Bugs?
To treat a bed bug bite, apply antiseptic cream or lotion, take an antihistamine, and avoid scratching the area. If you suspect you are having a severe reaction, seek medical attention. If you suspect you have an infestation, you’ll need to contact a professional pest control company that has experience with treating bed bugs. To prevent bed bugs, regularly search for the signs of an infestation and take preventative measures when necessary.