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
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.)
Bed bugs are very resilient. Nymphs and adults can persist months without feeding which is unusual for most insects. The ability to survive without a blood meal is longer at cooler temperatures ― potentially up to a year or longer at 55°F or less. In temperature-controlled buildings, a more typical duration is about 2 to 6 months. Consequently, it is usually impractical to leave buildings unoccupied in hopes of ‘starving out’ an infestation. When infested dwellings such as apartments are vacated, bed bugs often disperse to nearby units, or reduce their activity until the unit is reoccupied.
My husband works for a garbage company (this is how we think the invasion started) and at the moment they are localized to our bedroom and our bathroom. However, the first place we found them was in our headboard & footboard. It is wood with an intricate carving. We checked the mattress and box spring and didn’t find a thing. But they LOVE that wood.
Bed bugs are active in summer and winter and are not considered "seasonal" in the same sense that mosquitoes, ticks and stinging insects are. Still, many consider bed bugs to be a greater problem in the warmer months, however it is not the bed bugs that are more active in the summer months - the humans are. In warmer weather we typically travel more, often sleeping in hotels and motels, using various modes of transportation, and thereby increasing our risk of exposure to bed bugs. The bed bugs themselves are year-round pests.
My husband for 5 yrs had been getting bites on one knee and on his stomach about every other month or so. They are maybe 3 or 4 on stomach area and maybe 6 or 7 on the knee – always same knee and same area on stomach. We wondered about bed bugs so we put DE out, corked all openings and cracks, and sprayed – we have never seen signs of the bed bugs, we put the mattress and box springs in the bed bug proof cover. If it were bed bugs would they not bite some where else and would you not get more of them after all this time? The only bug we have seen are the ones that look like lady bugs sometimes but I understand they do not bite!
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People don't often consider bed bugs until they've left their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. Bed bugs can also leave their bites in straight rows and, while they don't spread diseases to humans, their bites are quite irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.
The diagnosis of a bedbug infestation should be based on the clinical history and appearance of bites. A thorough inspection of sleeping quarters by the patient, a family member, or a pest control expert may demonstrate the telltale signs of an infestation15 (i.e., specks of blood-tinged insect feces and exoskeleton casts [Figure 5]). With the aid of a magnifying glass, special attention should be given to cracks and crevices of furniture, baseboards, electrical boxes, curtains, carpet, luggage, bed frames and headboards, picture frames, wall hangings, mattress and box spring seams, peeling wall paper, clothes, and linens.37 Live bedbugs can sometimes be caught by turning on a flashlight just before dawn, when bedbugs are most active, larger in appearance, and slower to scatter because of recent feeding.40
Known to be international travelers and expert hitchhikers, bed bugs are everywhere. As you travel, you increase your chances of being bit. However, knowing how to identify the bites and what your treatment options are will help you decide your next course of action. Learn more about where to look for bed bugs and how to avoid them with these great blogs:
Infested mattresses and box springs can be discarded or wrapped in plastic to trap the bedbugs. Washing bedding and clothes in hot water and drying with high heat can kill bedbugs and their larvae. Cleaning and vacuuming furniture and floors can also help get rid of bedbugs. Shake out suitcases after traveling. Only use an insecticide in cracks on floors or furniture in areas that do not come into contact with skin. An exterminator can help if you're unable to rid the home of bedbugs.
You can identify a bedbug infestation by checking bedding, mattress seams, furniture, and wall fixtures for the bugs or their traces. Each bedbug is about the size of an apple seed, about 1/4 inch long. You will often see their droppings instead, which are tiny brown or red specks. You may also see small blood stains on sheets or mattresses when a bedbug has been crushed after feeding. Eggs about the same size as the adults might be seen in seams or cracks and you will also see their molted exoskeletons.
About five weeks ago bed bugs were found out work, then two weeks ago they spread, pest control has seen continuously coming to check and yesterday they gave the place the green light. I work with a largely indigent populace, the office I work at was not sprayed, during the night at some point, I will feel painful stings, hours later I have been finding small lumps or even large and hard ones, Could it be bed bugs? There is a particularly painful lump on the back of my thigh, it’s very hard too.
Bed bug bites do not typically require treatment. It is best to clean the bite site(s) with soap and water and avoid scratching so as to prevent secondary infection. Progressive swelling, warmth, tenderness and sometimes (albeit rarely) fever may be signs of secondary infection, which should be managed with antibiotics as appropriate. Much more common are complaints of itching. For how to treat bed bug bites that cause severe itching, topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines may offer relief from itching and thus decrease the risk of infecting the bite site.
It’s also possible that you won’t see a reaction the first time a bedbug bites since it sometimes can take the body a while to react. (6) Some people will have an immediate reaction, while for others it could take two weeks to emerge. Your body will likely become more sensitive to bedbug bites over time, and if you get bitten repeatedly, it could be only a matter of seconds before your body shows a response.