Bed bugs are insects that feed on the blood of animals and humans. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are usually two types of these insects: Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus.
The bedbug raised many fears after it sparked a crisis in France and concern among its government due to the widespread spread of the bugs in the capital, Paris, reaching trains, subways, cinemas, and hospitals, as well as their spread to several schools.
Bedbugs need to take blood meals from warm-blooded hosts, which are usually humans.
Female bed bugs lay about 5 eggs a day throughout their lives in a protected place such as mattress layers, cracks in furniture, spaces under baseboards, etc.
The eggs hatch within approximately 4-12 days into the first instar of nymphs (little bugs).
Insects go through five stages, and each stage requires a blood meal before moving to the next stage, and with the fifth stage, they molt into an adult insect.
Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown, have no wings, and are approximately the size of an apple seed. Their bodies are flat and oval.
The little bug is smaller in size and can appear transparent or yellowish.
Color of bedbug eggs
Bed bug eggs are small and white in color.
Where do bedbugs live?
- Residential apartments
- Cruise ships
Adult bed bugs are approximately 5 to 7 millimeters in length.
How do bed bugs live?
Unlike ants or bees, bed bugs do not construct nests. However, they do prefer to dwell in concealed locations, often in groups.
It does not fly, but it can move quickly over floors, walls and ceilings.
Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each about the size of a speck of dust, throughout their lives.
Immature bugs – called nymphs – shed their skins five times before they mature.
Under favorable conditions, insects can fully develop in less than a month, producing 3 or more generations annually.
Lifespan of bed bugs
Bed bugs can live from about 10 months to a year.
Bed bugs are not considered dangerous. There is no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to people. But its bites can be itchy and uncomfortable.
According to the US Centers, while bed bugs can be naturally infected with blood-borne pathogens, they are not efficient carriers of diseases.
The primary medical concern lies in the inflammation caused by its bites, which can result from an allergic reaction to the components present in its saliva.
But if you scratch a bedbug bite enough to break the skin, it can lead to infection.
For some people who are allergic to its bites, these stings can result in blisters or severe itching.
See your doctor if this happens to you.
Signs of bed bugs
The first sign of bed bugs may be small, itchy bites on your skin, most often on your arms or shoulders.
Bed bugs tend to leave clusters of bites rather than individual bites here and there. But for some people, bedbug bites do not cause any marks or itching.
You may also notice:
- Blood stains on your sheets or mattress
- Small pale yellow eggs or eggshells
- Bedbug feces, which are black dots
- Shedding of bedbug skin, very similar to the bedbug itself
- White, oval eggs the size of an apple seed
- A sweet, musty smell around your bed
- Bedbugs in your bed
How do I know there are bedbugs?
If you suspect bed bugs, inspect the mattress and bed carefully, especially between the crevices. They like to hide in these areas, where they can easily reach people to bite.
You may find them near the seams, marks, and piping of a mattress or box spring, or in crevices in a bed frame or headboard.
But over time, small insects may move into any crevice or place that provides a place to hide.
And you can find it:
- In the seams or between the cushions of sofas and chairs
- In the folds of the curtains
- In drawer joints
- In electrical outlets and appliances
- In nearby rooms or apartments
- On clothes
- Under peeling paint or loose wallpaper
- In bed
- Under the carpet
- On the luggage
- In boxes
- On the mattresses
- On objects near the bed
Bed bugs, despite their reliance on blood, are not indicative of uncleanliness. They can be encountered in both tidy and cluttered homes with equal frequency.
Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal creatures that tend to inflict their bites while you are peacefully asleep. With their elongated beaks, they delicately pierce your skin and extract nourishment from your blood.
The insects feed for 3 to 10 minutes until they are full, then crawl away, according to WebMD.
If you have an allergy to bedbugs, the level of itchiness from their bites will be the key distinction. If the bites are extremely uncomfortable, you are probably experiencing an allergic reaction. In this case, it is advisable to seek medical attention to address and manage your reaction effectively.
Bed bug rash
Numerous skin conditions bear resemblance to bedbug bites. These include hives, fungal infections, and heat rashes, all of which manifest as red bumps and can be easily misidentified as bedbug bites.
If you’re not sure, look for signs of a bed bug to confirm you’ve been bitten, or seek your doctor’s advice.
How to eliminate bed bugs permanently?
To eliminate bed bugs, you can begin by implementing a series of measures within your own home:
- Wash bedding, curtains and clothes in hot water, and dry them on the highest drying temperature. Place shoes and other unwashable items in the dryer, and run it on high heat for 30 minutes or more.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub the layers of the mattress to remove bed bugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and the surrounding area daily, including the windows. Next, place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place it in the trash outside immediately.
- Place a tightly woven, zippered cover over your mattress and box spring to prevent bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bed bugs can live for several months without feeding. So keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year.
- Repair cracks in plaster, and paste peeling wallpaper to eliminate places where bed bugs can hide.
- Get rid of the clutter around your bed, and move your bed away from walls and other furniture.
- If you live somewhere hot, you can put your items in a sealed bag and leave them in your car to warm up in the sun.
- If your mattress is infested, you may want to get a new one. But first, take the above precautions for the rest of your home so bed bugs don’t get on your new mattress.
Getting rid of bed bugs often requires chemical treatments. Make sure you use only approved insecticides whose labels indicate they are intended for bed bug control.
Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically states that it can be used on bedding, and never apply it to your body.
How to prevent bedbugs
Some ways to stop bed bugs (and their bites) include:
- Use a protective cover on the mattress
- Reduce clutter in your bedroom so bed bugs don’t have many places to hide.
- Vacuum regularly, including your mattress, carpets, curtains and upholstered furniture.
- When you stay away from home, place your bag on a suitcase stand, dresser, or table instead of the bed or floor. When you get home, wash all your trip clothes and dry them in a hot dryer.
- Wear long-sleeved pajamas and long pants to protect your skin from bites.
- Inspect used upholstered furniture carefully before bringing it inside.
- Avoid used mattresses and bedding
- Use plastic bags to hold your clothes and linens while using shared laundry facilities. Bring clean clothes home to fold, if possible.
- If you live in a multi-unit building, install screens under your doors and seal cracks around the panels.
When do you see a doctor?
If you have symptoms other than itching, such as blisters, or you think you may have an allergic reaction, contact your doctor.