Bed Bug Facts

Many households seek bed bug facts when they find their home infested with these tiny insects. Understanding how they hide, how they feed and how they can be killed can be helpful to anyone who wants to get rid of them and keep them from coming back.

Overview:

what are bed bugs?

Bed bugs were given that name precisely because of the place they normally hide. They are well-known for hiding in beds, as it gives them a regular food source while humans sleep. These insects hide during the day and come out when they sense a warm body in the bed. They then swarm the bed's occupant, biting and drinking the blood. They may also lay eggs and defecate there. However, beds are not the only place they will hide themselves during the day.

When searching for bed bugs, these places should be searched in and around the bed:

  • Under the mattress
  • Inside the mattress itself
  • Inside cracks and crevices in bedposts and legs
  • In or under the box spring
  • In the carpet under the bed
  • In cracks and crevices in the wall behind the bed

If you've gotten rid of the bed bugs in and around the bed, there are plenty of other places they can hide. These insects can travel as far as 20 feet to get a meal, so they may hide in a different room and travel at night. Outside of the bedroom, look at:

Any cracks in the walls near furniture

  • Under and inside upholstered furniture such as sofas and chairs
  • Behind curtains
  • Behind any clutter that has not been moved in a long while
  • Inside suitcases and purses
  • Inside the laundry hamper
  • Inside appliances and drawers
  • Inside electrical outlets

For those with an infestation, shame is a natural feeling. These insects are often associated with dirty conditions, but they can be found in the cleanest of homes. They do not spread disease, and an allergic reaction to the bites is the worst that household members can expect.

Signs of bed bugs

The first indication of an infestation is often bites on the extremities of whoever slept in the infected bed. They are more likely to feed on the feet and lower legs, but the hands and forearms may also be bitten. The bites are small, red spots and they can become itchy and irritated. This is problematic particularly in children who may have a larger portion of this skin bitten and irritated. On the bed itself, you may see small spots of blood that indicate bed bugs were feeding during the night. It is also common to see small black dots in the sheets. These are the faeces of the bugs. The number of bites, blood spots and black dots indicates the severity of the infestation.

Treating bed bugs

One of the most important bed bug facts for exterminators is that these insects cannot survive extreme heat. While there are many insecticides that will kill them, the fact that they are often found in or around a bed often dissuades people from wanting a chemical solution. Exterminators can use chemical insecticides in the areas away from the bed and then set traps under it to capture as many bugs as possible.

In addition, a specialized machine is often used to overheat the bugs. They are unable to withstand heat of 113 degrees or more. This heating unit can be used in the small places where bed bugs most often hide as well as the tiny cracks and crevices that are too small for humans to see the hidden bugs. With heat treatments, the residents don't have to worry about being around toxic chemicals or checking and replacing traps.

Identifying bed bugs

If you aren't sure whether the small insects you see are bed bugs, there are several ways to tell the difference between these insects and other common household pests. These bugs do not fly, and they are oval shaped. Young bed bugs measure about 1.5 mm in length, and adults grow up to 7 mm in length. Their bodies are flat, so they often look like ticks, but their oval bodies often give them away.

Their color is generally reddish-brown, but after a meal, they will be redder in color. The youngest bed bugs, nymphs, are clear and turn blood red after a meal. If an infestation is not eradicated, the population of these insects will grow quickly. About three generations a year will be produced.

Bed bugs move fast, crawling quickly for a meal and then to get into their hiding space. It can be difficult to kill them by hand because they move so quickly. The best way to get rid of them is to see where they go to hide and then treating that area with heat.

These bugs can survive for several months without a blood meal, so it's never safe to assume a place is free of them simply because no one has been there recently. They live comfortably in vacant homes, hotel rooms that are rarely used, etc.

Preventing bed bugs

When a bed bug infestation is discovered, the residents may wonder how they got in and what they did wrong to attract them. However, the cleanest homes can have infestations. They often get into luggage or handbags during travel and hitch a ride to your home. International travel is particularly well known as a source of an infestation. They can also travel in used items that you purchase. That item from the thrift store or eBay may be a good deal, but it could harbor bed bugs or their eggs. Just a few of them will soon create a full-blown infestation.

So many hotels are now infested with them that it should be a common practice to check the sheets and mattress before staying in a hotel room or Airbnb in order to prevent bed bugs. Keep your luggage and handbags sealed so that no bugs enter them during the night. If you do discover bed bugs have gotten into your home, have them eradicated immediately before the population grows. A growing population of bed bugs in a home won't just bite the residents, it will spread to the homes of friends and can even spread to your workplace through your briefcase or handbag.