The new plague has an old name: bed bugs. They’re in all 50 states, and can be found everywhere, from airports to motels to mansions. They feed silently in the dark, and leave behind a distinctive calling card: a cluster of itchy red bites. If you believe that you’re suffering a bed bug infestation, you’ll want to take action against the bugs right away, but while you’re fighting them, you may also want to treat the bites.
The life cycle stages of a bed bug are egg, nymph, and adult. The reason they are called bed bugs is that they readily infest mattresses, bed frames and box springs. Eggs are laid along the edges of or around buttons on the mattresses. Eggs can also be glued to rough surfaces. Bed bug females lay about 200 eggs, usually at the rate of three or four a day. Eggs are placed in cracks, crevices and other isolated and protected shelters. Females lay eggs after a blood meal. Eggs will hatch in one or two weeks into Nymphs. Newly hatched bugs (Nymphs) begin feeding immediately. At room temperature, and with an available food supply, the nymphal period will last 14 to 30 days. They shed their skin (Instar) five times before becoming adults. Bed bugs will mate soon after becoming mature, so the time from egg hatch to egg laying is 4 to 9 weeks, under favorable conditions. The average life span of the bed bug is 6-12 months and they feed every 10 days or so during this time. Bed bugs can survive many months without a blood meal and their reproduction is high.
In comparison to other insect bites, bed bug bite marks are usually in groups of three or more when they appear on the skin. This is sometimes called the “breakfast, lunch and supper bites”. As you can see in the picture below, the bites are rather close to each other. Their bites often look like little red bumps, pimples or even blisters and welts. Some people can also mistake them for flea bites. If one of these insects bite you, you usually won’t even feel it as it uses a form of anesthetic which dulls the pain. Bed bugs also are known to leave bite marks in a straight line, also in close proximity to each other. A single bed bug can bite you a number of times during the night. However, if you have a bed bug infestation, there are usually a large number of these little pests and this can result in a multitude of bite marks. Please also remember that some people may not have a negative reaction to these bites. In fact, sometimes they are mistaken for spider bites, even by medical professionals so make sure you let your doctor know if you feel it could be a bite from bedbugs. Lastly, you will be happy to learn that bed bugs do not fly so you won’t be attacked from the air.
The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not previously been widely available. Other contributing factors that are less frequently mentioned in news reports are increased public awareness and slum clearance programs that combined pesticide use with steam disinfection, relocation of slum dwellers to new housing, and in some cases also follow-up inspections for several months after relocated tenants moved into their new housing.
Bed bugs hide in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed during the day. Bed bugs are transmitted from place to place as people travel. They can be in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, or anywhere else they find a place to hide.
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
Our place is pretty cluttered so I was freaking out. Luckily we have hardwood floors and not carpet. We tried different things. It gets really hot here, so I loaded up any nearby sheets, pillows, comforters, clothes, etc into trash bags and tied them off so nothing could get out. I put those in the car so the sun could beat heat into them all day. Never thought I’d be so thankful for Texas summers… Still got bites. We bought a mattress cover. Still got bites. We thought, okay, maybe they’re coming from the wall socket from a neighbors or something. We couldn’t close it so we kept the bed away from furniture and walls and put sticky traps on the legs. Caught NO bed bugs but STILL GOT BITES. I was losing my mind.
Scabies is a skin infestation of a type of mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. These are tiny, almost invisible, eight-legged creatures that fall under the same class as spiders and ticks. Scabies mites burrow under the skin to lay eggs and will crawl around on the skin, causing intense itching. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae that emerge will burrow back into the skin, causing even more irritation.
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.