Bed bugs were a part of the scenery in Victorian Britain, but by the 1980s were almost extinct. Unfortunately, they are now making a bit of a comeback and you could find them in a mattress near you.
Where Do Bed Bugs Come From
Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years. Nearly every week an infestation finds its way into the news but we actually know very little about them. Scientists from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma have been studying their origin and have discovered some interesting facts.
They have found the first genetic evidence to show that their origin is bats. Our contact with bats thousands of years ago, when we made our homes in caves, is what has led to them becoming a modern pest.
Hundreds of bed bugs were looked at, from homes and bat dwellings across 13 countries. The scientists’ findings suggest that all bed bugs have a similar origin. When humans moved from Africa to Eurasia thousands of years ago the bed bugs would have looked for hosts in caves that were shared by both humans and bats.
References to bed bugs have also been found in ancient Egyptian literature and fossilized bed bugs have been found dating back more than 3,500 years.
Sheffield University has also been looking at these pesky little creatures and in 2014 they showed how it only takes one pregnant bed bug to cause an infestation.
In the 1880’s, 75% of households had a problem with bed bugs, but by the beginning of World War II, this had dwindled to just 25%. Their numbers are on the increase, however, and some experts are blaming their resistance to common pesticides and increased international travel.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs
Bed bugs usually get in houses, after accidentally getting on any of our belongings. One is enough to cause an infestation, every experienced exterminator knows that. In rare cases, an infestation can occur after a few bed bug eggs get attached to our clothes on accident.
How Do You Know if You Have Bed Bugs
The most common bed bugs symptoms usually appear on our skin, after we are bitten. Bed bug bites are very common, and the itchiness can make anyone very agitated.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like
Bed bugs are flat, oval, six-legged insects. Upon closer inspection, you might think they also have wings, but don’t let that fool you – they do not have the ability to fly. If you’re wondering how to find bed bugs, all you have to do is look.
How Big Are Bed Bugs
One of the most common bed bug signs, excluding the bites, is the fact that you can see them with the naked eye. They’re often confused with dust mites, but dust mites are too small to be seen.
They can easily be measured between 4 and 5 mm, and you can see them move (very fast), especially if you have white sheets.
How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs
As soon as you wake up and spot the lines of red bumps on your skin, it’s already too late. What can be done? Here are the easiest steps to take in order to get rid of bed bugs.
- Quarantine the room. Bed bugs live on your flesh. It’s a war of attrition, but you can isolate the affected items and starve the bed bugs out. Everything will need to be removed from the room, and the bed will be unusable for a while, but it can be done.
- Apply alcohol on bed sheets. If you need to take immediate action, you can spray the bed with rubbing alcohol. This will kill their eggs on contact and give you a leg up.
- Steam the bed. You can get a device capable of steaming at your local hardware store, or you can get an electric kettle and rig up your own. You have to be thorough, but you can kill bugs and eggs alike.
- Vacuum the bed. You can suck these blood suckers right out along with their offspring. You have to vacuum every crease and crevice, then dispose of the contents in a sealed bag, but it can work.
- Bag and Launder. Most affected items can be cleaned with a good wash, but you can also bag your mattress. Wrap it in the infested room, carry it outside, and as long as it is exposed to sunlight with temperatures inside the plastic reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8C) it can kill the bugs after a few days.
- Discard the bed sheets. It may be painful to let some things go, but know when to lose the battle to win the war. Properly dispose of infested items to alleviate the problem.
Bed Bugs Myths Sold as Facts
Getting rid of your mattress will remove the problem
If you think that throwing out your furniture will rid you of the problem you couldn’t be more wrong. Treatments for bed bugs can be applied almost anywhere.
You don’t need to go to the effort of throwing things away and you could, in fact, make things worse. Moving items through your house will only spread the infestation all over.
Bed bugs like a dirty home
A not very clean home is most certainly not what causes bed bugs. In fact, they can be found in the cleanest and most hygienic accommodation.
The majority of these unwanted guests hitch a ride when you travel and stay in hotels and other shared living quarters. The more you travel the higher your chances of bringing home these unwanted pests.
I’ve not traveled, so won’t get them
Unfortunately, travel is not the only way they find their way into your home. If your neighbour has them they can also move in next door and they can even hop on public transport or find their way in along with a second-hand piece of furniture.
Bed bugs die in the cold
It’s unlikely that temperatures will drop low enough to have any effect on the bed bug population in the UK. Yes, cold can kill them but we like to keep our homes at a cosy temperature, even during the winter, so bed bugs will continue to live on all year round.
Bed bugs carry diseases
Actually, no. Bed bugs are not known to carry any viruses that can make humans ill. However, their bite will cause itchy skin and irritations.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
If you got rid of the infestation, you can finally look up how to get rid of bed bug bites. They’re completely harmless, and there are lots of bed big bite treatments out there. Just wash the bitten areas of your skin with water and soap and apply a non-prescription corticosteroid lotion to relieve the itchiness.
Image source: Akos Nagy/shutterstock.com
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