Bed bugs have been identified as human parasites for many years. These were largely annihilated in the United States during the early 40’s, thanks to the improvements of hygiene and the awareness use of an odorless and colorless crystalline -- or DDT as it is called -- known for its insecticidal effect. However, these pests still remain in some parts of the world such as Africa, Europe, and Asia. Recently, due to international travel and governmental bans of DDT in some countries, bed bug infestations are making a comeback.
Bed bugs are typically light brown to reddish brown, flattened and oval shaped. They have microscopic hairs and wings called hemlytral pads but they don’t have hind wings, which make them unable to fly. Young bed bugs or nymphs are lighter in color and have translucent abdomen. Their translucent abdomen turns red when they consume blood, then fade into brown to dirty black as they reach maturity. Adult bed bugs can grow to 4 to 5 mm long and 1.5 to 3 mm wide, and are often mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, or carpet beetles.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Bed bugs reproduce through a morbid procedure called traumatic insemination wherein male adults pierce the female abdomen and infuse the sperm into the wound. Female bed bugs then lay their eggs in isolated areas. One female bed bug can lay 1-5 eggs a day -- equivalent to hundreds during their lifetime. The bed bug eggs are difficult to notice, because these are minuscule and whitish in color, and can only be spotted with magnifiers especially on light surfaces. Bed bug eggs hatch within a week in a 21-26°C environment.
The life span of a bed bugs depends on their feeding and temperature, but it has the ability to survive without a blood meal in a cooler temperature for a very long time. Bed bugs are also flexible and stubborn, as it can survive at below 16°C, and at least five days at 10°C. However, bed bugs cannot survive at high concentrations of carbon dioxide.
Feeding Habits and Behavior
Cimex lectularius or the common bed bug prefers feeding on humans’ blood, but it does also suck blood from warm-blooded animals. Bed bugs are blood-sucking honey insects, which tend to bite exposed skin in areas like the neck, back, or arms of a sleeping person which then leaves a reddish spot on the affected area. Bed bugs do not spend the majority of its life hunting for blood. They tend to be stationed around areas where people sleep, or prefer to hide closely to their host i.e. inside beddings, couches, or seams. When a bed bug is hungry, it leaves its nest and searches for a host. They can crawl several feet to obtain their target. It roughly takes 3-10 minutes for the satiation of a bed bug. During the process, humans hardly notice anything because a bed bug bite is almost painless.
Facts And Myths About Bed Bugs
There are many myths regarding bed bugs. We have mentioned a few above, and below are the additional facts about our subject.
· Bed bugs are most active at night – Indeed, bed bugs are more aggressive during the night. However, that does not mean they are exclusively nocturnal. They also hunt during daytime and can bite any time of the day.
· Bed bugs have a favorite color – Scientists conducted a laboratory test and found out that bugs strongly preferred dark colors like red and black and it typically avoids colors with bright tones, like green and yellow.
· Bed bugs live only in the mattress – Not only do bed bugs stay in the mattress, they also live in dark areas that may provide shelter. It can live in cracks in wood and even in your kitchen appliances.
· Bed bugs anesthesiology – People often wonder why bed bugs bite is painless as if you will not even notice that you are being bitten at all. The reason behind this is that bed bugs saliva contains substances that increases the blood flow and act as an anesthetic which makes their feeding process unnoticeable.
· Bed bugs transmit diseases – Fortunately, bed bugs do not spread diseases. However, similar to mosquito bites, some people acquire allergic reactions and frequent scratching of their bite marks can lead to secondary infections.
· Moving out of the premises for a while will eliminate bed bugs – This is not an effective strategy to eliminate bed bugs. As mentioned earlier, bed bugs can survive for many months without a host. Under some condition, it can also survive an entire year without eating.
· Bed bugs reside in unsanitary places – Unfortunately, bed bugs do not have preferences. They do not care how clean or tidy your house is. It can be found anywhere from high-end hotels to homeless shelters.
Based on these facts, we have realized that bed bugs are not easy to be eliminated. They even multiply and evolve quickly, making it difficult to control. If you are planning up to clean an infested area, I strongly recommend contacting a licensed pest professionals to get rid of them.
For more information about bed bugs, please refer to this link.
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