Bedbugs reproduce by a gruesome strategy appropriately named "traumatic insemination," in which the male stabs the female's abdomen and injects sperm into the wound. During their life cycle, females can lay more than 200 eggs, which hatch and go through five immature "nymph" stages before reaching their adult form, molting after each phase. [Infographic: Bedbugs: The Life of a Mini-Monster]
Bed bugs are obligatory bloodsucking. They have mouth parts that saw through the skin, and inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers. Sensitivity of humans varies from extreme allergic reaction to no reaction at all (about 20%). The bite usually produces a swelling with no red spot, but when many bugs feed on a small area, reddish spots may appear after the swelling subsides. Bedbugs prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person.
Most bites will have a small clear area in the center surrounded by redness that may or may not be raised. People tend to become more sensitive and have larger reactions after each episode. Reactions can include itch, swelling, rash and wheals (large round red area on the skin). Severe reactions can cause skin blisters and trouble breathing, although these reactions are very rare.
To avoid light, bedbugs hide in the seams of mattresses and crevices of bed frames, walls, and furniture during the day.5,7 They are attracted to human hosts by warmth and carbon dioxide; these hosts generally sleep within 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters) of the bedbugs’ hiding places.8,9 Feeding usually takes place just before dawn.10 Bedbug saliva contains several anesthetic, vasodilatory, anticoagulant, and proteolytic compounds that allow the insects to feed undetected for five to 10 minutes. Three of these compounds have been identified as instigators of the subsequent hypersensitivity reactions that may be noticed when the host awakens.11–14
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
Help!! I have had a long and exhausting experience with these nasty bugs. My mother in law had stayed at my house for a few nights and a few weeks later after returning home she discovered she had a severe infestation of bed bugs.. so of course I took precautions at my home thinking she gave them to me. I threw my mattress away then taped off my entire bed with very sticky tape. No signs or bites at all . Then a few weeks later my son started to sleep in his bed again and sure enough he woke up with 3 bites in the shape of a triangle that were swollen and itchy. I searched his bed and found a casing shell and 3 blood stains under his box spring .I called a exterminator he came out and said we had a mild infestation and there was no signs in my bed but he found one live bug in my son’s bed. He treated the bedrooms and living room. Then my son and i were getting these little bumps on our body that looked nothing like the triangle bites and didn’t itch so the exterminator came again and treated but found no evidence of bed bugs and this cycle happened four times! So he has treated my apartment 4 times and found no signs of bed bugs and even had a dog come out to sniff around .. this was all over the course of about 5 months . The exterminator insists that we do not have bed bugs anymore but my son is still getting these bumps on him, some are reds dots and some are skin colored but no complaining of itching . I’m very overwhelmed and exhausted and havery no idea what to think. I think the tape on my bed prevented them from getting back into my bed after I threw my mattress out but again the exterminator said tape does not work. Are they hiding somewhere else like in the walls to where the exterminator think the problem is gone ?
Bedbugs are highly resistant to many sprays. There are, however, certain sprays that may be able to kill bedbugs. Check with a professional exterminator about advice using sprays to try and remove the bedbugs yourself. Dead bedbugs usually won't move, may be arched back, or red in color. Ultimately, you may be better off replacing your mattress and bedding and fumigating your home to kill the bedbugs.
Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species of insects: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus. They are about 1 to 7 mm in size. Spread is by the bugs walking between nearby locations or being carried within personal items. Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene but is more common in high density areas. Diagnosis involves both finding the bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Bed bugs spend much of their time in dark locations like mattress seams or cracks in the wall.
It often seems that bed bugs arise from nowhere. The bugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported into dwellings on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, and other items. This is a particular risk for hotels and apartments, where turnover of occupants is constant. Bed bugs are small and agile, escaping detection after crawling into suitcases, backpacks and belongings. Acquiring secondhand beds, couches and furniture is another way that the bugs are transported into buildings. Bed bugs also can be carried in on one’s clothing, shoes or wheelchair. Once bed bugs are introduced, they can crawl from room to room or floor to floor. They can also be transported throughout buildings on people and their belongings.
Infestations with bedbugs date back to ancient Egypt.1 The incidence of bedbugs in developed countries decreased in the 1940s because of the availability of more effective pesticides (especially DDT) and improved economic and social conditions.2 In the past decade, however, a significant resurgence of bedbug populations has occurred. This is attributed to a combination of factors, including increased pesticide resistance, more frequent travel, lack of public awareness, and inadequate pest control programs.3 In a 2010 survey, 95 percent of more than 500 U.S. pest management companies reported encountering a bedbug infestation during the preceding year, compared with only 25 percent of companies during 2000.4 Bedbugs spread actively by migrating from one infested room to another, often through ventilation ducts. They also spread passively, carried in the seams of travelers’ luggage, bedding, or furniture.5 Bedbugs do not travel directly on human hosts.6
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
I use witch hazel with aloe vera (from Thayers). Apply with Q-tip or cotton ball. WORKS VERY WELL for me, especially when applied soon after bite is detected. Found that if it stings a bit when applied, it is likely that bite was recent, and more likely to reduce the itch. If I apply soon after a bite, I feel a little sting from the astringent, and the itch if often eliminated (although not sure how large the bugs are that bit me).
8 days ago my friend & i decided to crash at my grandmas house after a wild night out. in the morning we woke up in horror seeing how they freely crawled all over her mattress cover. Within the last 7 days, bite marks have been appearing all over my body, i am practically covered; as to my friend, well lucky her she has only 3 on her arm. The problem isn’t only that i have more bites than her but i believe i have an allergic reaction, the bites have massively grown in size. I do not know what else to try, Calamine doesn’t work, baking soda with water made it worse, Benadryl hasn’t done anything either. I am at a point where i am about to cry. The worst part is that in less than a month I am going on my first tropical vacation. I simply cannot handle the stress, i suffer from mild anxiety & these massive rashes have turned these 7 days into hell. I have stopped scratching because it seems to irritate the bites. Please help.
If you have bed bug bites, they may or may not look like the ones on the pictures. The bed bug bite pictures are meant as a guidance that should be used to eliminate other common insect bites. Please note that allergic reactions and a few other insect bites can look exactly like bed bug bites, so you shouldn’t make this your only step in identifying the bite. If you aren’t sure, contact your doctor and let him or her look at it. So what do bed bug bites look like? Have a look at the bed bug bite pictures below and see if they look similar to your own bites. If you have been bitten by bed bugs, then you should start bed bug bite treatment as soon as possible.
While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.