Bed Bugs: Small, wingless insects that feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals
- Bed bugs are small, brown bugs that feed on the blood of humans and animals, after they have fed they swell up and turn a reddish color.
- Bed bugs can’t fly, but they can move quickly over most hard surfaces such as floors and ceilings.
- Although bed bugs are annoying, they don’t transmit diseases.
- Small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. That is what a bed bug is. They tend to live in groups, their thin flattened bodies fitting into tiny spaces enabling them to hide in mattress, bed frames, and headboards making them have easy access in biting people or their pets mainly at night.
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How much do you know about bed bugs? Though we’ve heard of these little creatures our entire lives, most of us—quite fortunately—have no direct experience with bed bugs. Because of this, we often rely on nursery rhymes or word-of-mouth information to create our image of bed bugs. If you press most people to be specific about their conception of bed bugs, you can expect to get different answers. But, what you’ll probably hear most often is, “I don’t know.”
In order to arm you with the knowledge you need to know about bed bugs, we’ve designed this section to be the most thorough and comprehensive guide to bed bugs on the Internet! And, while you may not be an expert on Cimex Lectularius by the time you finish this, you will have answers to all the key questions you should be asking about bed bugs.
What are bed bugs?
We can’t have a discussion about bed bugs without first defining what they are. As most of us probably know bed bugs are bugs. No surprise there, right?
But, what else do you know about bed bugs? Are they dangerous, blood sucking parasites that are out to rob you of all your blood in your sleep? Do they descend from the ceiling to attack their unsuspecting prey? Are they dangerous? Do they transmit disease?
The truth is: in some or fashion, many of us have these notions of bed bugs firmly imprinted in our minds. Scared by the nursery rhyme “goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” we are conditioned from an early age to think of bed bugs as little monsters that come to feed off our blood in the middle of the night. What we aren’t told is what really happens if we are bitten by bed bugs. Does the world end? Is life over as we know it?
We’ll get to all of these questions and more (okay, maybe not every one of them specifically, but you get the idea). Thankfully, a general description of bed bugs can answer most of these questions and dispel some of the horrifying myths that have been ingrained into our minds.
In short, bed bugs are small bugs that sometimes find their way into residential quarters where they take it upon themselves to feed upon the blood of humans. How dare they! But, if it makes you feel any better, they it’s not just humans they go after. Warm-blooded animals, in general, are at risk of being infested by bed bugs.
When a bed bug infestation occurs, they normally locate themselves in a person’s sleeping quarters—most often the bed. And, the scary thing is, they can do this without you knowing! Once there, they feed on your blood until you find a way to exterminate them.
The good news is: there are ways to get rid of bed bugs, and, as far as we know, they aren’t the monsters we consider them to be. While they can be annoying and cause irritating rashes and bites, they don’t transmit diseases—even though some bed bugs do carry them.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what bed bugs are—and what they aren’t—we can move forward with the specifics concerning bed bugs. The following questions are all essential to learning how to prevent, detect, recognize, and solve a bed bug infestation.
How do you get bed bugs?
This question must be answered so that you can take active steps to preventing a bed bug infestation. In many cases, there are ways that you can help minimize the risk of catching bed bugs, even when you’re in high-risk environments. However, there are other cases that are beyond your control. We’ll look at both of these situations below.
One of the most common ways that bed bug infestations occur is when bed bugs are brought back to residential areas in luggage. Some places are more likely to have bed bugs naturally—such as summer cabins and other places in the woods—so it’s easy to accidentally pick them up and take them home with you.
Another way that bed bugs can affect you is if you are living in a residential area with many inhabitants—such as an apartment complex or a dormitory. Unfortunately, because bed bugs can spread so easily once they find a suitable habitat, if one living quarter is infected, it’s pretty much a sure-fire thing that the rest of the complex will be infected, too. This leads to a serious bed bug infestation that can only be treated by a licensed professional who tackles every area of the bed bug infestation at once.
Where do bed bugs come from?
Bed bugs come from natural environments such as camps, woods, and other outdoorsy areas. When you travel to these areas with your luggage or your pets, you may unknowingly pick up a few bed bug travelers and take them home with you.
They can also come from another person’s house, or even your neighbor, so you should be careful if you have heard that anyone in your area has had a recent infestation of bed bugs.
Can you see bed bugs?
Yes, and no. This answer is a little more complicated because there are ways you can see bed bugs, but they are often too small to see. Not only do they like to hide, but they can be very tiny as well, often requiring the use of a magnifying glass to see. While they can grow bigger after feeding, they are difficult to see before feeding. This means that you should take special care when inspecting your home for bed bugs because they are not always visible to the naked eye. Ensuring that you have magnifying equipment can make the task of detecting bed bugs much easier and much more manageable.
How big are bed bugs?
So, then, how big are bed bugs exactly? Well, that depends. There is a range of different sizes that a bed bug can be.
The average size of a bed bug egg is only ONE millimeter making it as big as two grains of salt. Scary, right? The size of the actual bed bug only grows as large as an apple seed. Though they can appear bloated and reddish after feeding on your blood, they are usually smaller when they haven’t fed. Now you can see why it’s so difficult to spot bed bugs in your residence and why magnifying equipment is necessary to accurately diagnose a bed bug infestation.
Do bed bugs fly?
Flying bed bugs would be the stuff of nightmares. Fortunately for us all, bed bugs don’t have wings, so they can’t fly. Instead, bed bugs hide out in places like your mattress, headboard, and other parts of your bed before traveling to feast on you in the middle of the night. Bed bugs usually crawl a distance of about 100 feet in order to partake in their nightly meals. This means that if you are waking up with bed bug bites, you can be certain that these tiny little insects aren’t more than one hundred feet away.
What is the Bed Bug Life Cycle?
The bed bug life cycle begins when a female bed bug lays her eggs. Scarily enough, a single female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime, and, chances are, she’ll be laying them before you ever know that your home is infested.
Once this process has started, it only takes a week to ten days before these eggs hatch, and a legion of tiny bed bugs marches out into the world, ready to continue your home’s infestation. Before they reach adulthood, they’ll pass through five stages, during which time they grow larger and eventually change color during adulthood. Here, they change color from a yellowish hue to more of a red-brown color. This is when you know that the bed bug has finally reached adulthood. An average bed bug will range from five to seven millimeters, and this entire process takes only about three weeks.
How long do bed bugs live?
And, to make matters worse, bed bugs can live up to one year. This means that if you’re trying to rid your home of a bed bug infestation, you should make sure to take measures that will ensure that you have protection from bed bugs for up to a year. This means, if you are investing in mattress covers or Active Guard Liners, you should make they are good for up to one year. You don’t want to remove these during this time, or you may find that your infestation will come back.
This makes treating bed bug infestations particularly tricky, as they require constant care and vigilance to ensure complete eradication. Before you invest in a treatment plan, make sure that you have the fortitude it takes to really go through with what you’re planning. You should also make sure that you have a well-informed approach to eradicate your bed bugs. If not, you could find that they will just come back and spend another year with you.
How long can they live without blood?
This is the ultimate scare question. Think about it: you’re basically asking how long bed bugs will survive without feeding off your blood. If that doesn’t creep you out, nothing will.
The sad answer is that bed bugs can live for over a month without visiting you for a meal. This means that you’re unlikely to starve them out. In fact, bed bugs can go anywhere from four to five weeks without feeding off any blood, making it nearly impossible to stave off an infestation simply by avoiding the infected area. Furthermore, if there are any other warm-blooded animals around, they will feed off of them until you are back.
While we may not like the idea of sleeping where there are insects out to feed off our blood, it’s recommended that you don’t travel to new rooms of try sleeping in new places once you have gotten a bed-bug infestation The fear is that you will take bed bugs with you when you do. Furthermore, because they can go so long without eating, it’s possible to carry them long distances without meaning to. Even if you don’t know it, a bed bug can survive in your luggage for up to five weeks, making it nearly impossible to escape the infestation once it has started. The only thing you can do once you are confronted with a bed bug infestation is take rapid action to address the problem.
As mentioned, mattress encasements and Active Guard Liners are great for their use against bed bugs. Because they can only survive so long without food but have a life cycle of up to one year, these tools are great to leave on your mattress in order to help prevent and rid your room of bed bugs. These tools help trap bed bugs onto your mattress so that you can sleep without fear of being fed upon. Presumably, within five weeks, all of the bed bugs left in your mattress will have starved, but as they could be hiding in other places, it’s recommended that you leave these encasements and protective guards on for the whole duration of a bed bug’s life—up to one year. Taking these necessary steps won’t cure your bed bug problem without further treatment, but they do help ensure that you aren’t being unnecessarily bitten, allowing you to sleep more peacefully at night knowing that you aren’t sleeping with bugs. This peace of mind lets you get a better night’s rest, leaving you more active and able to take the steps you need in order to finish treating your house. Remember: because they can survive up to five weeks without food, it’s not feasible to think you can starve bed bugs and wait until they die. Only by making a real treatment plan or by hiring a professional can you hope to rid your home of a bed bug infestation.
How Can I Tell If I Have a Bed Bug Infestation?
- This is probably one of the most crucial questions asked by those who believe they may be plagued with bed bugs. One of the most obvious signs of a bed bug infestation (outside of being bitten by them, of course) is that you will notice quite a number of molted bed bug skins laying around your house. Yikes. If that sounds nasty, it’s because it is.
- Still, if you thought that was nasty, you’ll probably want a disclaimer before this next one. If you’ve noticed tiny black fecal spots (yes, we’re talking about poo) around the house, chances are you might have bed bugs. Though these spots are small, they are not hard to notice (it is feces, after all). Despite this, these black dots can be left by any number of bugs, including roaches, so you cannot take them as a definitive sign that you have bed bugs (though you should probably be calling an exterminator, anyway).
- Another way to check for a bed bug infestation is to look for tiny blood spots around the house. This doesn’t mean, of course, that your house will look like a crime scene, but if you have a bed bug infestation, you will notice tiny spots of blood around the house. If no one in your house (including your pets) are sick or injured, you should take this as a sign that you have some type of insect infestation.
- This one is another obvious one, but it’s worth stating anyway. If you have seen bed bugs, either alive or decaying (yes, decaying), it’s probably a good sign that they have invaded your place of habitation and are slowly taking over. You should take this as a sign that you need act immediately to remove the bed bugs from your house (unless, of course, it’s Halloween, and you think that decaying bed bugs and tiny patters of blood help make the mood more authentic). All jokes aside, bed bugs are a serious problem, and you should deal with them immediately.
- If you have itchy or swollen bites, it might not mean that you have a bed bug infestation. On the other hand, it could totally mean that, so if you start breaking out in bites all over, you might want to see if your house displays any of these other bed bug symptoms. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you certainly don’t want these venomous little critters running around you at night.
- If you’ve been noticing a sweet, musty smell emanate from your bed, it could mean one of two things (but probably both):
- It’s time to change your sheets.
- You have a bed bug infestation (which means it’s time to change your sheets).
Either way, this sweet, musty smell is a sign that something is wrong with your bed. You should check it for bed bugs immediately, as sleeping with bed bugs for prolonged periods of time is not only creepy, but it could do you some physical harm.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Though most insect bites appear similar to an untrained eye, there are some distinct characteristics of a bed bug bite that one should look out for, especially if their house is showing signs of an infestation.
Like most insect bites, most bed bug bites are itchy and red. These bites are generally clustered or in a straight line, oftentimes along the edge of where clothing sleeves or where the sheets were pulled up to a person’s skin.
This is a creepy thought, and if your bites appear to be clustered in that way, you should check for bed bugs immediately.
If you are like most people, your bumps will be small, swollen, and red. However, if you belong to a more unfortunate class of people, you might develop large, itchy red welts on your skin after a bed bug bite. Either way, both are signs that you have some type of bed bug infestation that needs to be checked out and solved pronto.
It is worth noting that bed bug bites appear similar in many ways to flea bites. The crucial difference, however, is that the red area in a flea bite does not occur in the center of the bite. If your bite’s red area is not located in the center, it’s a sign that you have been bitten by a bed bug, especially if your bite’s location and other factors align with the above information.
In any case, if you have any bites that display the symptoms shown above, you should check for bed bugs immediately. You seriously want to avoid being around bed bugs for a long period of time, and you also want to make sure that other members of your household are free from their clutches as well.
There are various myths surround what beg bugs really are. Because most people don’t have direct exposure or first-hand experience with bed bugs, these myths largely go unchallenged. This can make a bed bug infestation more frightening and exacerbate the problem by providing undue stress and anxiety once one learns that their home is infested with bed bugs. In order to dispel these myths and bring comfort to those suffering from a bed bug problem, this article laid out the answers to all the essential questions that should be asked concerning a bed bug infestation. Ultimately, bed bugs are not the creatures of horror that we may think them to be, as they pose little-to-no threat to most humans. However, the feelings of unease they give us and the itch of their bites make having a bed bug infestation hard to handle. However, by understanding what bed bugs are and how they operate, you are better informed and more able to take the necessary actions to rid your home of bed bugs and reclaim your home’s comfortable atmosphere.