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.
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.
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.
Bedbugs are found in temperate and tropical climates worldwide. The insects are most commonly found in living quarters where their host resides. Bedbugs generally hide in the seams and crevices of bed mattresses and box springs, bed frames, headboards, upholstery, old furniture, closets, and in spaces underneath baseboards or behind loose wallpaper. Clutter and disarray also provide additional hiding places for bedbugs. Bedbugs may be transported from one location to another via luggage, furniture, clothing, and used mattresses. Although they are often associated with unsanitary living conditions, bedbug infestations also occur in clean, well-maintained living quarters, including five-star hotels and resorts. Bedbug infestations have been increasingly reported in hotels, dormitories, homes, apartments, nursing homes, cruise ships, shelters, jails, and hospitals. There have been several cases in the U.S. involving litigation because of infestations of bedbugs, and thus bedbugs are considered a public health pest by several agencies.
Kept replacing the sticky traps just in case but never caught anything other than the occasional spider. Always cycled the sheets and such using the car+sun. They were still getting to us. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump. They had to be in the bed frame. I check it over and notice rusty spotting, which is apparently bed bug fecal matter. Luckily ours was from IKEA so it was easy to take apart – and sure enough – there they were. The way my bed works is a metal frame with holes, rubber end caps fit into those holes, and wooden slats run across the frame in the end caps. So every few days I’d mix up a 50/50 mix of bleach and water in a bucket and soak the wooden slats and end caps for ten minutes. The bed bugs were gone a couple of weeks and came back. I started soaking the things longer and scraping them with a disposable spoon, which was hard to do on the end caps. It warped the wood a little but nothing too bad. After a couple of weeks or so, I stopped finding bed bugs in the frame. I was worried they were in the metal too, but I completely stopped getting bites. I think the added time and scraping got rid of eggs. Not a lot can survive a 30 minute bleach bath.
No one tactic alone will be effective. A good pest control operator will develop a strategy to deal with the bed bugs that takes the particulars of the setting into account, and will return several times to check on progress. Dry ice sprays that freeze bed bugs have limited potential to reach hidden bugs. Steam has somewhat better penetrating ability. The downside of steam is that it leaves moisture behind. Dry ice doesn't leave any residue at all. Vacuuming has a role, but it has limitations, too. Some insecticides leave behind deposits that are slow to act but are effective in the long-term. Other insecticides kill on contact, but only reach insects that are in view. Insecticide resistance makes the choice of tactics more difficult.
Bed bugs were first mentioned in Germany in the 11th century, in France in the 13th century, and in England in 1583, though they remained rare in England until 1670. Some in the 18th century believed bed bugs had been brought to London with supplies of wood to rebuild the city after the Great Fire of London (1666). Giovanni Antonio Scopoli noted their presence in Carniola (roughly equivalent to present-day Slovenia) in the 18th century.
Items that cannot be placed in a washer or dryer can sometimes be de-infested by wrapping them in plastic and placing them outdoors in a hot, sunny location for at least a day (for example, on pavement or in a closed vehicle parked in the sun). Packing items loosely in garbage bags and elevating objects off the ground helps the heat permeate further, and will make it harder for bugs to find a cool place to hide. Monitoring with a thermometer is prudent to ensure that a temperature of at least 120°F is achieved wherever the bugs may be.
“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” This horrific nighttime creature is a member of the Hemiptera order of insects that feast solely on blood. Because of the way they mate, they multiply in size while breeding. A Department of Health report claimed that if forty are placed in a room with a mild temperature, within six months their population would exceed 5,900.
As mentioned earlier, applying insect repellent at bedtime will probably not deter bed bugs from biting. When working in severely infested dwellings, there may be some benefit to spraying tops and bottoms of shoes with DEET-based repellents. Those working in bed bug-infested environments may also want to hot wash or run clothing, etc. through a dryer upon returning home or to the office.
I just moved into my new apt with my 1 yr old and 3 yr old sons. the first night we slept on covers on the floor until i got the beds in. that very first morning there we woke up with bite marks on us. i thought maybe they were just mosquito bites or something. after the beds got in we continued to have this problem. poor kids cant play right from the itching. I’m pregnant so when the bites we on my stomach i went crazy especially since i worked so hard not to scratch and cause stretch marks.
Zonalon and Prudoxin (doxepin) are topical creams that can be prescribed for relief from itching. The active ingredient in these products is a topical tricyclic antidepressant and seems to work against itching by reducing histamine. Histamines are chemicals your body produces in response to injury or when having an allergic reaction. A prescription-strength cortisone cream may also help. In some cases, a prescription antihistamine will be given.
Bed bugs are annoying insects that hide in soft, warm places like beds, couches, and clothing. These bugs feed on their hosts at night, leaving small bite marks that, though rarely dangerous, should be treated right away to prevent unwanted symptoms and potential allergic reactions. To prevent more bites in the future, you’ll need to get rid of your bed bug infestation completely.
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.
As bed bugs grow they molt, shedding their skin five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed between each successive molt. Adult females also must feed in order to lay eggs. Under favorable conditions (70-80°F), the bugs can mature fully in as little as a month, producing multiple generations per year. Cooler temperatures or limited access to blood prolong the development time.
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.