This pest profile is dedicated to a small (but very viscous) insect known as bed bug (Cimex lectularius).
Here you can learn more about the appearance, feeding habits, detection, etc. of those blood-sucking creatures.
Continue reading below and you will also find answers to questions such as how can bed bugs be transported on clothing and how to get rid of them if a property gets infested. Without further ado let’s take a closer look at these pesky home invaders.
The adult bed bug is brown (to reddish-brown), oval-shaped, and has a pair of front wings. Luckily, it can’t fly. Microscopic hairs cover its entire body. It can grow to be 4–5mm. long and 1.5–3mm. wide. A newly hatched bed bug is called a nymph and it appears translucent. A variety of other common household bugs look similar to bed bugs, so make sure you know the difference.
Read more about how do bed bugs look like.
Bed bugs have an appetite for blood and they would gladly feed on humans. Water vapor in the air is enough for their need for additional moisture. Just like the mosquito, bed bugs are attracted to hosts mainly by carbon dioxide. It loves exposed skin, especially the arms, neck, and face of a sleeping person. Under warm conditions, the adult bed bug will try to feed every 5 to 10 days but it can survive for nearly 5 months without blood. Under cool conditions, it can last for over a year without feeding.
Bed bug bites
If a person gets bitten, the most important thing is to be kept from being bitten repeatedly. Once all the biting stops, the symptoms will subside on their own without any treatment in about a week or two. There is no medical evidence that medications improve the condition of the victim. To avoid ongoing bites can be difficult as it requires the complete eradication of all bed bugs that reside at a dwelling.
Continue reading about bed bug bites.
Can Bed Bugs Be Transported on Clothing?
In short – yes, bed bugs can be carried on clothing. If you are working in an office or simply have constant contact with people, there is a chance for bed bugs to transfer to you. But don’t worry, there are ways to prevent it.
You can’t stop the bugs to go to your clothes, but you can stop them from spreading around your home. Here is how:
- If you have a suspicion that you are carrying the pests, go to a room without carpets or other clothing materials (e.g. bathroom).
- Remove your clothes and put them in plastic bags.
- They should remain there until the wear is ready to be laundered (with washing machine – at least 2 hours long wash cycle at 45°C) or frozen (at least a week, but it must be with really low temperatures -20°C/-30°C).
Read more about how bed bugs can be transmitted to your property.
Resistance to Pesticides
Along with DDT and organophosphates, some types of bed bugs have developed a genetic resistance to pyrethroid insecticides. This allows for other chemicals to be studied and used against the pests. Synthetic pyrethroid and chlorfenapyr are currently of growing interest.
However, bed bug pesticide resistance seems to be increasing more and more. Sampled bugs across the United States seem to show tolerance to pyrethroids which is a few thousand times higher than the usual.
A bed bug infestation can lead to several health effects such as allergic symptoms, skin rashes, and even psychological problems. Depending on their number, bed bug bites can lead to a variety of skin problems such as gruesome blisters. About 30% of hosts respond to bites with reddish spots and itching that can last for a few days.
Some symptoms might be delayed and can appear several days after the actual bites took place. From a psychological point of view, an infestation can cause stress, sleep deprivation and anxiety.
Bed bugs are active during the night and act elusive. The peak of their activity is usually between 10 pm and 6 am. This makes their detection somewhat difficult. They prefer to hide in the darkest places you wouldn’t usually check.
Bite marks are the obvious symptoms but other signs include faecal matter in the form of small black droppings that might resemble black pepper. If you find some, then probably the nest is somewhere nearby.
This parasite doesn’t like to spend too much time on its host. Once done with feeding, it will return to a safe place where it won’t be noticed, typically a couch or somewhere near the bedding. These places are usually clustered with adults, young ones, and eggs.
Read more about the most common signs of a bed bug infestation.
There are many ways for a dwelling to become bed bug-infested. Here are a few examples:
- Adult bugs and eggs can be brought into a place through another person’s clothes or luggage.
- Through an infested brought-in item like an article of clothing or furniture.
- From an infested nearby place if there are routes that allow it such as false ceilings and ducts.
- People who visit infested areas like homes or means of transport (bugs can be found in the upholstery).
- Wild animals such as bats can be carriers of bed bugs and similar parasites.
Read more about how to check for bed bugs.
Modern methods of bed bug control include:
- heat treatment
- disposal of contaminated belongings
- use of organic and inorganic materials.
The use of pesticides remains the most popular choice but it has its drawbacks. The application of a pesticide may lead to dispersal of the bed bugs which leads to spreading the infestation. Also, some bed bugs have developed resistance against DDT and pyrethroids which has created the need for advanced chemical approaches. Cyhalothrin is officially listed as the most effective insecticide against bed bugs.
What to do in case of a bed bug infestation
If you suspect or know for sure that your dwelling is infested with bed bugs, then you better enlist the help of professionals right away. Do not attempt to deal with the situation on your own as you might not be using the right pesticides.
Bed bugs are very intuitive and they will be on the move once they sense you are on to them. That is why you need the help of specialists who know what chemicals will work best against the pesky insects. This is the only way to be sure that the colony will be isolated and effectively eradicated.
Keep in mind that we only aim to provide some useful information about how to recognise bed bugs with bare eye and how do they look like. We cannot guarantee that the bugs you're dealing with corresponds to the same description and are exactly bed bugs.