Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that only feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. They are reddish-brown in color, about 1mm to 7mm in size, and can live for several months without a blood meal. Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, but their presence can cause itching and loss of sleep. Excessive scratching can increase the chance of secondary skin infections. Bed bugs are found all over the world and the cleanliness does not determine the presence of bed bugs.
No two people react to bites in the same way, although some reactions are similar. Because of the saliva that they leave behind, the first reaction is usually severe itching and irritation. This is often followed by a raised appearance on the contacted area. Some people, however, react by having welts and hives all over the body. Still others will have small, pinkish bumps that are concentrated in one area.
In most infestations, consultation with a professional exterminator is advised because elimination is more likely to be effective if multiple pest management methods are used. These include monitoring devices, canine detection, clutter removal, vacuuming, heat or cold treatment, sealing cracks and crevices, and judicious use of nonchemical and chemical pesticides. Monitoring devices include moat-like devices (e.g., Climbup Insect Interceptor) that trap bedbugs ascending and descending furniture legs, and emitting devices that use carbon dioxide, heat, and/or chemicals (e.g., Nightwatch monitor) that attract and trap bedbugs. Specially trained dogs are reported to detect bedbugs with 97 percent accuracy and are able to differentiate live bedbugs and viable eggs from debris remaining from previous infestations.41 Vacuuming is a highly effective method for removing bedbugs, but not eggs because these adhere to surfaces.42 High-efficiency particulate air filters eliminate bedbug allergens and debris.42 Nonchemical treatments include petroleum jelly (which can be applied to legs of furniture to prevent bedbugs from ascending), heating, and freezing (see Table 36 for effective killing temperatures).
Bed bugs tend to congregate, but it’s also common to find a single bug or some eggs here and there. A thorough inspection and treatment may take up to several hours. Some companies use specially trained dogs to assist in finding small dispersed infestations, especially in such places as hotels, schools, libraries and office buildings. When properly trained, bed bug detection dogs can be quite effective. Relatively few companies are routinely using them, however, due to the expense of training and maintaining such animals. Reliability of some of the dogs is also being questioned as more enter the market.
Our apartment is clean, but apparently this has little to do with it. We were told to put our dry clothes in the clothes dryer for 30 minutes at a high heat and bag them tightly, spray rubbing alchoha l92% to repel them from the bed , couch covers and seat cushions, as well as to dry our bedding, curtains, towels etc., and to remove the light covers from the plugs. They were reasonable (about$400 divided into monthly payments.)They will come twice, a month apart beginning two days from now, We’ve been vacuuming daily, and tightly securing debris. We were told that rubbing alcohol, sprayed in cushions and the bottom of shoes will repel them (92%). I was told that the most common place to pick them up is hospital and doctor’s waiting rooms. I write, and have a lot of boxed papers. I’ve emptied my drawers. I’m also not sure of what to do about my hanging paintings. I have enough problems right now, and just want this to end.
In addition to the physical manifestations of bedbug bites, patients can experience significant psychological distress. The stigma that bedbugs are related to poor hygiene (however inaccurate) can lead to poor self-esteem, avoidance of family and friends, and suspension from work.37–39 Management of an infestation can be stressful, costly, and disruptive to everyday life. Worry can lead to insomnia, depression, anxiety, and even delusional parasitosis.37
Thank you so much for all the information. I just found a bed bug in my room at 5:00 AM in the morning. I have been getting these red itchy rashes for more than 2weeks . It’s extremely annoying and in spite of looking every where , I couldn’t find anything. These Biggs are so difficult to find. Now after reading this I feel they are even more difficult to eradicate.
However, another thing which has helped me with the intense itching is a regular hair brush! I was scratching so much that I grabbed the hair brush and used that to cover more territory! I have found that even if I “brush” intensely, it will not bleed and slowly the itching will subside. I have also heard of a quirky aid in “bug direction”…..used dryer sheets will discourage bugs from the area….what I saw was the sheets tucked in between the mattress and box spring by each bedpost.
Wearing an insect repellent is not completely effective, although you might try oil of lemon eucalyptus or DEET to prevent bites. Avoid bringing home second-hand items such as used furniture, mattresses, or any item that someone has kept in a bedroom. Unfortunately, bedbugs can linger in items for a year without feeding. Launder all used clothing before storing or wearing it. Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements on your bed. Fill in any cracks and crevices in your bedroom.
Until fairly recently, most people (and even pest control professionals) had never seen a bed bug. Bed bug infestations actually used to be very common in the United States before World War II. But with improvements in hygiene, and especially the widespread use of DDT during the 1940s and ‘50s, the bed bugs all but vanished. The pests persisted, however, in some areas of the world including parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Over roughly the past decade, bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U.S.― they’re appearing increasingly in homes, apartments, hotels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools and public transportation. Other places where bed bugs sometimes occur include movie theaters, laundries, rental furniture, and office buildings. Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. Changes in modern pest control practice, less effective insecticides ― and a decrease in societal vigilance ― are other factors suspected for the recurrence.
Some pest control firms also employ commercial steamers or spot-freezing equipment to treat areas where bed bugs are found or suspected. Used correctly, they kill bugs and eggs on contact. Neither method, however, affords residual protection against bed bugs which may have been missed. Steaming and spot-freezing equipment also have limited ability to penetrate fabric, wood, and other materials where bed bugs often reside.
But the bites will look different from person to person, and some people won’t develop any reaction whatsoever. “The same bedbug could bite two different people and one could have no reaction at all and the other can have an extreme reaction with a swollen arm or itchy rash,” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist and business manager for the national pest control company Rentokil Steritech, who is based in Redding, Pennsylvania. Some people end up developing a rash that looks like eczema. (5)
One bed bug will usually take more than one bite. Once a bed bug inserts its mouthparts and finds a suitable blood vessel, it will begin feeding. However, finding the right blood vessel may take more than one injection into the skin. In addition, bed bugs are very sensitive to movement by the host they are feeding on. Therefore, if a sleeping person moves, a feeding bed bug will probably withdraw its mouthparts and begin its search for a blood meal on another part of the body. It’s important to remember that the number of bites a person receives is not indicative of the number of bed bugs that feed on that person.