A few decades ago, bedbugs were somewhat of a novelty in developed countries. But since the early 2000s, infestations have become more common in places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2013 study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggested that bedbugs have evolved ways to resist insecticides.
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]
Bedbugs are small oval-shaped non-flying insects that belong to the insect family Cimicidae, which includes three species that bite people. Adult bedbugs reach 5 mm-7 mm in length, while nymphs (juveniles) are as small as 1.5 mm. Bedbugs have flat bodies and may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bedbugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. Cimex lectularius is the scientific name for bedbugs.
Reports of bedbugs can be found in the popular press and on hotel and travel review sites, and they appear to be making a comeback. The good news is that they typically do not pose serious health risks, even though their bites may be uncomfortable. These slides show you how to recognize bedbugs, know where they're hiding, and learn what to do to prevent getting bitten.
The safest and most effective approach to getting rid of bed bugs is heat treatment, in which a trained professional heats the home's rooms one by one to a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius and sustains the heat for four hours. Heat does not penetrate well into wall voids, though, so desiccant dusts are often applied to those areas. No single technique can eliminate bed bugs—combinations of approaches are essential to getting the job done.
Spray all baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and bedsprings and bed frames. Do not apply to furniture surfaces or mattresses where people will be laying or sitting unless using a product labeled for that type of treatment. Infested bedding should not be treated, but should be removed, placed in sealed plastic bags, and taken for laundering and drying at high temperature.
For about 3 almost 4 weeks now something has been bitting me around my ankles and feet. My fiancé hasnt been bit by anything and if he has he can’t tell. I took all sheets off the bed, found nothing. i have no idea if its bed bugs or fleas. But the itching is driving me insane. My fianc roommate did bring a stray kitten into the house not to long ago, and I’m thinking its fleas. But I don’t know for a 100%. I have a couple bites on my arms but mainly on ankles and feet.there is no carpet in house, just hardwood and one rug in living rm. I saw 2 tiny tiny bugs last night, but I couldn’t grab them in time. Pplease help its driving me insane and grossing me out
The bites usually last about 7 days, even if they are treated correctly. However, if you have sensitive skin like myself, they can last a couple weeks or in my husbands case, they last only a few days. As mentioned, if you scratch the bites its going to make things worse and besides running the risk of a bacterial infection, they will also take longer to heal so keep your nails away from them!
Adult bedbugs are reddish brown in color, flat, oval-shaped, wingless and approximately 4-5 millimeters in length. Immature bedbugs (nymphs) may be translucent or light tan in color and therefore very difficult to see. Bedbugs are often more red in color after feeding. Bedbugs are attracted by warmth, and they generally feed during the night, often just before dawn. They tend to feed every five to 10 days, though they can survive without feeding for several months. Bedbugs pierce the skin and inject saliva that contains anesthetics and anticoagulants into the host, which often make their bites painless initially. After feeding on the host's blood for several minutes, bedbugs will crawl back to their hiding place. They will generally try to hide and remain within close range of their warm-blooded host. Affected individuals may feel and see the consequences of the bedbug bite afterward, though many individuals will not develop any physical signs of a bite. Bedbugs do not transmit or spread human disease.
I am 59 and never had any allergies before.. My other half never got bit until recently, and it is only recently I’ve seen the bugs.. we got a new kittie and he gets them before or after they get me. That’s how I finale got to see one, he woke me up chasing it..the bites I cover with alcohol for 2-3 days, the itching stays down… am going to try the Diatomaceous earth trick, am on a small pension and can not afford Orkin or any others..love this site, great information..
I can’t wear any of my rings because my fingers have gotten swollen and they hurt. My wrists have become somewhat painful as well. I get blood blisters that hurt like anything. Those are the worst. I’m living on benadryl and calamine lotion. The calamine seems to be helping to dry them out at least. My right hand is a disaster. Especially on the skin between thumb and forefinger. I look like I’m a leper or something.
Hello all I just want to put this out there that heat is the best way to kill these little pests. I work for a company that uses heat to do structural pasteurization, in other words we heat the entire house up to 140°+ (which is higher than the the thermal kill point for bedbugs) for an hour or more (though they can only withstand that heat for less than 15 min) This has been the ONLY way to kill them with a 100% success rate since they are becoming resistant to chemicals and DDT is illegal. Some things work for some infestations but not for all, there are a lot of good ideas on here :-)
Hi, I’m a little late to the talk but this is honestly very strange to me, i had bed bugs about a year ago and fully got rid of them, as of yesterday, 9/10, i woke up to bites on my right hand, palm and fingers not on the top of my hand, and on my right foot, in between my toes and the soles of my foot. i thought it may be bed bugs because of having 3 days so maybe one of them jumped on my bed and brought one along, but i decided to sleep one more night, i now got bit on me left hand and feet the same as my other bites, only on my toes soles palms and fingers, they’re red bumps that itch and whenever they’re pressed along something they hurt, if they are bed bugs why aren’t they like how i had them last time where i got bit everywhere there wasn’t hair, now I’m only getting bit in those spots, hopefully my info helps! Thanks!
Bedbugs are a species of insect known as cimex lectularius (literallycimex is Latin for bug and lactularius is Latin for bed). There is a second common species of bedbugs known as cimex hemiptera. These are known as the tropical bedbugs, staying within 30 degrees of the equator. There are published reports, many without supporting evidence, that each of the common bedbug species has chemically different saliva. Some researchers, however, have found no difference in the reactions caused by each species.
If you have been bitten by bedbugs, the good news is that they aren't associated with any disease. You need only to avoid scratching the bites and getting a skin infection. Anti-itch creams may help. Treating your home or possessions to eliminate an infestation is more of a challenge, and you may need both nonchemical and chemical treatments. Learn how to treat your bites and get rid of bedbugs.
I recently flew on Airtran Airways, First trip I went well. flying back I had a 30 minute layover in ATL (not enough time to sit down). By the time I got home I was covered in bites from the back of my thighs to my neck. I counted over 100 bites! We have got a serious problem here. these bugs are on planes. I knew nothing about these bugs. Thank you for your stories and remedies. I won’t think twice next time they ask me if I want to upgrade to first class.
Diagnosing bed bug bites can be hard for medical professionals. We often hear of doctors assuming a variety of skin conditions before bed bugs – especially doctors who haven’t encountered patients with bed bug bites before. While there is no specific test to determine whether bites are from bed bugs there are tests that can show whether or not it’s an insect bite. This is useful for ruling out issues like eczema or allergic reactions, but not for determining that any specific insect bite is a bed bug. To be sure you’ll want to check for other signs of bed bug infestation, such as the bugs themselves, moltings, and the characteristic staining of their blood meal feces.
Considering how time-consuming and costly it can be to eradicate bed bugs, it’s prudent to take precautions and avoid infestations in the first place. Householders should be vigilant when acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches. Discarded items should be avoided, and secondhand articles should be examined closely before being brought into the home. Look carefully in the folds and seams of furniture for signs of bed bugs (see the previous section entitled "Description and Habits" for more details). There is no reason to stop shopping in consignment stores, yard sales, etc., but it would be prudent to run clothing and fabric items through the washer or dryer before storing them in the home. The risk of acquiring bed bugs from items purchased in antique stores would generally be insignificant.
Bed bugs will also succumb to cold temperatures below 32°F, but the freezing temperatures must be maintained for a longer period (e.g., one to two weeks). Consequently, heating tends to be a better option throughout much of the country. Efforts to rid entire dwellings of bed bugs by raising or lowering the thermostat will be unsuccessful, although pest control firms are able to achieve lethal temperatures with supplemental heaters (see the subsequent section entitled "Heat Treatments" for more details).
These blood suckers lock on to the carbon dioxide (CO2) release when sleeping. Once they have you, they head toward a warm part of your body and begin to bite. Two tubes are inserted into your body; one is used to inject a mixture of anticoagulant and anesthetic while the other is used to suck up your blood. You never notice the bites until you wake up and realize you were the main course!
Very worry about my daughter.Wnt on a trip to Georgia and south Carolina 13 days ago.As soon and we came back started having rash wrist and forearmas.Vry itchy.Have been extending to legs ,shoulder bladdes and upper arms.Doctors not sure if a bed bus bite or scabies.My grandsone have a few bites but it seems to get better.Thest rest of the group seems to be ok.
These bugs are extremely sensitive to heat in every stage of their life. Thermal death point of a common bed bug is just 111°F to 113°F. Many times even temperatures that are lower than this, 97°F to 99° F can kill multitudes. If the temperature is raised to 140° F for about an hour or to 120°F for several hours most infestations will be eradicated.
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.
Summer means more time outdoors–and more opportunity for annoying critters to bite you. Most of the time, all you’ll get is a little red bump with itching and maybe a little swelling. These insect bite symptoms can be treated easily with anti-itch creams and over-the-counter antihistamines. Occasionally, bites can cause allergic reactions that lead to severe swelling and shortness of breath; if that happens to you this season, you need to be seen by a doctor.
Very helpful article, plus everyone’s comments. I wish you all the best of luck with bedbug problems. We went to a cabin near Yosemite before Christmas and I saw bugs on the bed. Luckily we didn’t sleep there and left right away. However I’m afraid some came home with us. About 3 weeks after our trip, I got a rash on my neck, but it’s not very itchy. Haven’t seen any bugs at home, but am worried. Will try the tips in the article–any suggestions how to heat a bedroom to 120 degrees?
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As if you needed something else to worry about, bedbugs, those pests from the old bedtime rhyme are making a comeback. More of a nuisance than a health hazard, they’re showing up to suck blood from people in hotels, college dorms, and hospitals. Take an informative look at bedbugs: what they are, where they lurk, and how to spot them before they get you.