Small wound on a woman's left hand

Generally, almost for as long as people have been sleeping in beds, people have been sleeping with bed bugs.  These pesky insects have been documented in history as far back as the Medieval times in Europe, and can be traced in Greek history to the era of Aristotle.  Throughout the ages, there have been countless stories of hapless victims of bed bugs, all of them bad.

Known to scientists as “Cimex lectularius”, bedbugs are tiny, wingless creatures with a brownish, ultra thin body. Various researches indicate these creatures originated in Asia, but they are now found in all parts of the world. Bed bugs thrive in locations with a warm climate but they have adapted to northern regions where heated buildings are available.

Adult bed bugs measure ¼” to 3/8″ in length when not fed.  After a hearty meal, their size can increase considerably.  A hungry bed bug looks much different compared to one that is well  nourished.  Called nymphs, young bed bugs resemble adults but have a yellowish color after molting. Depending on how much they have to eat, nymphs can grow into fully-grown bed bugs is as fast as one month.  

Bed Bugs Are Pesty

The trouble with bed bugs begins when these little beasts get hungry for blood.  They typically stay in their nests, and are just forced to go out when they are starving.  Bed bugs are initially attracted by body warmth, and cannot detect a food source that is more than 5 centimeters to 10 centimeters away.

The bed bug’s  mouth  is a highly developed piece of blood sucking equipment.  The specialized beak-like protrusion offers two-way action, injecting an analgesic and sucking blood at the same time.  The bed bug sucks on its unsuspecting victim as he or she sleeps, for as few as one minute or as many as seven minutes.  An adult bed bug can suck up about seven times its own body weight in blood. After feeding, the bed bug will retreat to its hiding place immediately.

Most persons won’t realize that they have bed bugs until they’ve been bitten.  They’ll wake in the morning to find red, itchy symbols or swollen welts on their bodies.  The red marks look likr mosquito bites, and will last for two or three days. Bed bug bites can be distinguished by the orderly manner the welts are formed.  The bite symbols appear in an orderly fashion, unlike the random pattern of mosquito bites.  Although the bites will be itchy, they should only be washed with soap and water and never scratched, as this can, in fact, cause infection. Bed bugs are not selective as to where they feed on the human body, and will choose any body part with good blood flow, including the genitalia.

Bug Off!

Caring for an infestation of bed bugs is not enough.  These tiny creatures can hide in the smallest of places and reproduce at an alarming rate, so the only step to deal with bed bugs is through total extermination.

Most people acquire bed bugs through their travels.   Sleeping in an infested hotel room, particularly in a tropical climate, leaves travelers vulnerable to these unwanted insects.  Undetected, the insects will crawl into luggage and belongings and then hitch a ride home.  Once safely in the house, these bed bugs will breed, thrive and begin a new infestation.  Homes not yet infested can also inherit this problem through the use of second hand couches, beds and other furnishings.

Elimination of bed bugs is an incredibly hard task.  Fabrics with tears and holes and create the perfect locations for the insects to lay eggs. During the 1940s and 1950s,  the use of a pesticide called DDT was well-known, as it helped minimize the spread of bed bug infestations.  These chemicals were eventually outlawed due to growing concerns over their harmful effect on humans.

Professional pest control companies have an artillery of  instruments and potions  to help get rid of beg bugs.  These experts use specially formulated aerosols, pesticides and other chemical agents to get the job done quickly and more safely.  Any furnishings or beds that are found to be in poor condition or badly infested should be discarded quickly.  Those who opt to keep the bed should encase the mattress and box spring in plastic covers, in order to trap and eventually smother any remaining bugs.

Vacuuming is an effective means of  eliminating bed bugs and some pest control experts even use portable steam machines in their treatment of beds.

Whether you’re dealing with a minor or major infestation, bed bugs are a huge problem.  This is specifically true when the lights go out.  Prevention through regular and thorough house cleaning is a good step to help prevent a bed bug infestation.

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