Insects are responsible for many pests around the world. They were created to guarantee the ecological balance. In addition to this mission, they invade houses and cause damage either to human properties or health.
Bed bugs are one of most destructive species of invasive insects. Bed bugs invade, as called, beds, especially wooden beds, which present a perfect shelter for these tiny creatures.
Bed bugs have become declared a pest in the U.S since the 1940’s and have cost the government since then a lot of money to control this pest. But nothing worked, and bed bugs have been expanding and presenting a serious threat to homeowners.
Physical and biological facts about bed bugs:
Bed bugs – scientifically called Cimex lectularius – are invasive insects considered in the U.S. as pests. These annoying insects are parasites; meaning they are related to the human because it provides food for them: blood.
Bed bugs feed frequently on blood, especially human blood, similar to fleas. But they have a different look than fleas and their scientific classifications are different, therefore, bed bugs need to be well studied and this article contains a huge amount of useful information that may help you better know these parasitic insects.
- Bed bugs are 0.16 to 0.2 inch (4 to 5 millimeters) long and 0.06 to 0.12 inch (1.5 to 3 millimeters) wide, which means they are truly tiny creatures that are hard to detect.
- Bed bugs are reddish brown small insects that look almost red directly after ingesting human blood.
- Bed bugs have flat oval shaped bodies with an oval abdomen which is segmented into 5 parts. Usually, female’s abdomen is bigger than the male’s as it used it for laying eggs.
- Bed bugs have a straight pair of antennae used as sensors to danger or to vibrations.
Bed bugs are tiny insects that don’t carry a lot of physical or biological specifications. But as tiny as they are, they have a very typical and complex behavior which needs to be identified.
Behavioral characteristics of bed bugs
As cited above, Cimex lectularius have a typical behavioral despite the fact that they are so small.
- Feeding: Bed bugs feed on blood which is why they infest the human body. These insects are parasites; it means they use the human as a host which provides their needs. And the fact that they infest beds is because it has the perfect conditions as a shelter and as the availability of food source: which is the human when he falls asleep. So, bed bugs bite you while you are sleeping and suck all the blood they want and then come back to their shelter which is under your bed.
Bed bugs are nocturnal, they only feed at night and they are not active when exposed to day light, they like quiet and dark places.
Bed bugs can also infest pets. When there is no availability of human blood, bed bugs bite pets and suck their warm blood.
The most special feeding behavior of bed bugs is that they can survive up to a whole year without feeding on any source, which is a very rare characteristic.
- Reproduction: When bed bugs infest an area, they start by mating in order to form a huge colony to guarantee the survival of the species. Mating in bed bugs takes place through traumatic insemination in which the male injects its sperm into the female’s abdomen and when inseminated, it takes the female a day to lay down 1 or 2 eggs.
Bed bug eggs are so sticky in a way that it sticks to flat vertical surfaces without falling down, which helps the colony to survive and expand.
Bed bug nymphs are uncolored and very small: they are 0.06 to 0.08 inch (1.5 to 2 millimeters) long and 0.03 to 0.05 inch (0.7 to 1.25 millimeters) wide.
- Social communication: As many insects, bed bugs use several ways to communicate between each other. They are smart creatures that need communication to organize their colonies and guarantee its survival, for that purpose, bed bugs use pheromones and kairomones to communicate.
Pheromone is a chemical substance secreted by the glands in the bottom of bed bug’s abdomens. It is used to mark trails which lead to food sources or to call for mates during mating season or to mark trails to other nests or even to warn other colonies of a potential danger.
Kairomone is a semi chemical substance similar to urine, secreted by bed bugs to warn others from areas treated with pesticides.
- Relationship with humans: the relationship between bed bugs and humans can either be a relation of commensalism or of parasitism. Commensalism means one of the two parts benefits from the other without affecting it. In our case: bed bugs suck the blood of the human without affecting it, in better words, without causing harmful bites or transmitting diseases. Otherwise, there is parasitism which means benefiting of the other at his expense. It’s the case where the bites of bed bugs become highly allergic and cause harmful itching and identifiable swelling.
Regardless, bed bugs are considered a dangerous pest in the US and they should be exterminated when they infect a property, because they can be responsible for a huge material and health damage in the infested area.
Bed bugs: a serious threat to human health
Do bed bugs present any danger or threat to the human health?
Well, medicine has proven that in spite of their ability to carry pathogens, they are unlikely to transmit it to humans; they are here just to suck blood and live in peace. In fact, it’s true that bed bugs don’t transmit dangerous diseases, but their bites can cause an extreme allergic behavior and drive the victim crazy.
Bed bug bites cause itchiness swelling and redness of the bitten spot. Some pharmaceuticals could be prescribed to the bitten individual such as: antihistamines and corticosteroids.
Bed bugs also cause a psychological discomfort such as: anxiety, sleeplessness… and it could ruin the psychology of an individual when he lives near to bed bugs.
How do bed bugs get into your house?
Bed bugs, like any other pest, are not stupid insects to come from the front door and wait for you to smash them, they get into your house by many ways, and when they find the perfect location, they start building a suitable nest for a huge colony, and that huge colony may be under your bed.
- Bed bugs don’t originate from nowhere, they gain entry to your house through unchecked transported luggage. For example, if you have a guest and his luggage is infested, then surely your house will be infested as bed bugs crawl from one place to another, quickly, to hide. This makes them become undetectable.
- Hotels and motels are the most common places that suffer from bed bug infestations, as the turnover of travelers is continuous, infestations may occur at any time, and you could be easily infested when checking-in.
- Bed bugs, also, love wood furniture, and once you buy used wood furniture, you should, carefully, check if it contains any minimal infestation, then you can put it in your house.
While it’s hard to detect bed bugs when entering your house, it’s never impossible to detect their signs of evidence.
Signs of having bed bugs in your property
It is true that bed bugs are so hard to detect because of their tiny bodies and their special defensive behavior (they only move at night and in quiet and dark places) but there are some signs set by our experts to help us find and identify bed bugs:
- The first sign is bed bug bites: they are most similar to mosquito bites but they come in a row and more than 3 or 4 bites could be found in the same area. Bed bug bites could cause itchiness, swelling and sometimes allergy.
- Blood stains on your pillowcase can present a main sign of a serious bed bug infestation. If you are not suffering from any disease that will cause bleeding on your pillowcase, then it is surely, a bed bug which was on your pillow.
- Start checking under your mattress, look for rusty fecal spots, they are usually accompanied with shed skin and laid eggs. Some bed bugs can also be identified. If not under your mattress, inspect near to your bed.
- Strong unpleasant odor could be smelled around the bed. When bed bugs are reunited, they spread an offensive odor which is easily identifiable.
- Check cracks and holes in the wall as bed bugs like to live in walls and in wood cracks which provides for them a cool moisturized harborage.
- Bed bugs don’t fly and don’t jump, they just crawl from place to another very quickly, so don’t take them for ants or fleas.
Tips to prevent bed bugs
Bed bugs are a major source of nuisance, and as a homeowner, knowing that this insect has become a dangerous pest in the US; you should start planning how to avoid this pest and prevent being infested.
- Regularly inspect your house to guarantee that early infestations get exterminated. Inspect, carefully, all corners, wood furniture, beds, mattresses… every month.
- Beware of bed bugs in hotels, inspect your hotel room before opening your suitcase and lying on the bed, you could bring bed bugs home if you don’t take care.
- Vacuum your house every week, to keep every spot well aerated and kill any possible bed bug.
- Use a multi-layer cover for your mattress, it shall reduce the distribution of bed bugs.
- Some electronic devices could be used to repel bed bugs and to block them from staying in your property. These devices send ultrasonic waves that affect the neurological system of the bed bug and drive it out. The best product in markets is Hoont Indoor Powerful Plug-in Spider and Bed Bug Pest Repeller with Night Light available on Amazon for only $20.
Getting rid of bed bugs
If, unfortunately, the pest infested your property and your prevention plan didn’t work, don’t lose hope; these insects are not immortal, and exterminating them is not that easy, but it is doable and efficient.
The treatment of bed bugs is various, many ways are available, and you can choose the most suitable for your case. Here are some of the best ways to treat and exterminate bed bugs forever:
- Steaming: steaming is a simple general way of housecleaning but when it comes to bed bugs, you need to precisely identify the harborage and steam it with a low temperature in order to freeze the bugs and kill them.
- Heat treatment: mostly like freezing, but it just gets done with high temperature. In both cases, bed bugs can’t resist the extreme rough temperature and will quickly die. Heat treatment is expensive and needs special equipment which is better done by a professional.
- Pesticides: when it comes to pests, pesticide sprays are always a solution, but is it effective with bed bugs. Well, some poisonous insecticides can be effective and exterminate bed bugs if precisely sprayed.
- Encasement: many people choose not to kill bugs but to use encasements in order to cage bugs inside the bed encasement until they die. Encasements are tissue covers for the infected mattress which don’t allow bed bugs to come out and bite you while you are asleep.
Bed bug interceptors: This method is a modern way to get rid of bed bugs. It is something like a plastic plate that catches bugs in your wood furniture and blocks its movement. The best product for this purpose in the market is Climbup Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap for only $13 on Amazon.