How Bed Bugs Are Made
What Attracts Bedbugs to Human Environments?
- B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University
Once considered a pest of the past, bedbugs now make regular headlines as they infest homes, hotels, and dormitories worldwide. As bedbugs spread, more people worry about them and want to know what causes a bedbug infestation.
Though it might seem as if bedbug infestations are on the rise, historical context indicates that bedbugs and other bloodsucking parasites have been associated with humans for thousands of years. Throughout that history, people have endured them feeding on their blood. Bedbugs all but disappeared when people started using DDT and other pesticides to keep insects out of their homes. Although news headlines suggest bedbugs are conquering the world, the reality is that bedbug infestations are still at historically low numbers.
Why are they called bedbugs? Once they settle into your home, they congregate where you spend a lot of sedentary time: chairs, couches, and especially beds. They are attracted to you by the carbon dioxide in the air you breathe out, and you do a lot of breathing over the hours you’re in bed. Then they feed on your blood.
Bedbugs Don’t Care If You’re Clean or Dirty
Contrary to popular belief, there is no association between bedbugs and filth. They feed on human and animal blood, and as long as a source of blood is available to them, they will happily take up residence in even the most pristine home.
Being poor doesn’t put you at greater risk for bedbugs, and having wealth doesn’t immunize you from a bedbug infestation. Although poverty doesn’t cause bedbugs, impoverished communities may lack the resources needed to control infestations, making them more persistent and pervasive in such areas.
Bedbugs Are Excellent Hitchhikers
For bedbugs to infest your home, they have to hitch a ride on someone or something. They don’t usually stay on their human hosts after feeding, but they might hide in clothing and inadvertently go along for the ride to a new location. Most often, bedbugs travel in luggage after someone has stayed in an infested hotel room. Bedbugs may even infest theaters and other public spaces and spread to new locations via purses, backpacks, coats, or hats.
Bedbugs Go Where the Action Is
Since bedbugs travel by hitchhiking, infestations are more common in places with high rates of turnover in the human population: apartment buildings, dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels and motels, and military barracks. Any time you have a lot of people coming and going, there’s an increased risk that someone will carry a few bedbugs into the building. In general, owners of single-family homes have a lower risk of getting bedbugs.
Bedbugs Hide in Clutter
Once in your home, bedbugs scurry quickly to select a new hiding place; in beds and other furniture, behind baseboards, under wallpaper, or inside switch plates. Then it’s just a matter of time before they begin multiplying. A single female may arrive at your doorstep already carrying enough eggs to produce hundreds of offspring. While filth does not benefit bedbugs, clutter does. The more cluttered your home is, the more hiding places there are for bedbugs and the harder it will be to get rid of them.
Bed Bugs FAQs
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as 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. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
Do bed bugs spread disease?
Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
What health risks do bed bugs pose?
A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.
What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:
- the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
- bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
- rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
- a sweet musty odor.
How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.
How did I get bed bugs?
Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?
Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.
How are bed bugs treated and prevented?
Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.
This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.
The Most Bed Bug Infested Cities in the USA – See How Bad It Is
The bed bug infestation which we thought was over post the Second World War era has actually made resurgence in the 1990s. Today, bed bug cities are a national problem in the United States. The bugs are everywhere: in five star hotels, movie halls, clothing centers and even our daycares and schools. Nearly 95% of pest control management agencies in the country claim to have encountered a bed bug issue.
Bed Bugs: You can run but you cannot hide
When it comes to bed bugs (known asCimex Lectularius), the problem istwofold– not only are they extremely difficult to get rid of; the failure to take necessary safety precautions eases their spread them from one city to another. Hapless travelers are at the greatest risk as they encounter bed bugs in hotels and in airplanes and end up bringing them home through their luggage.
According to a survey conducted byNational Pest Management Association(with inputs from entomologists at The University of Kentucky), the number of bed bug cities in America in this decade are up by 10% as compared to the previous decade and by 25% a decade before that.
It is not only America that is suffering from bed bug infestations: even cities in Australia, United Kingdom, Europe and Africa are also facing them. Many of the pest control operators in these countries also believe that bed bugs are the hardest to get rid of than any other bugs.
According to expert pest management researcher, Clive Boase (who has conducted many pest surveys in United Kingdom), the early 1930s had actually seen a significant reduction in the bed bug issues since more National Housing Schemes came to be implemented; additionally, the home inspection rules for checking for vermin were also made more stringent. Similarly, the United States also enjoyed a brief period in the 1940s where there was significant reduction in these pests. This was mainly due to widespread use of DDT based insecticides. However, the same is not true in this era; the use of chemical control is not feasible for widespread use mainly due to higher costs; additionally, the bed bugs themselves are getting more and more resistant to such insecticides.
The rise of bed bug cities is encouraging Governments to rethink their insecticides. However,three factorshave to be considered before one can actually create a new line of insecticides:
- They should be safe for use around pets and children.
- They must be effective in killing bed bugs.
- They should be economical.
Even DDT, which was effective in the earlier half of the 20 th century, is now no longer effective in killing bed bugs, as resistant strains of bed bugs have been seen in Hawaii, Japan and Korea as well as in Israel, and Iran.
Top 10 Bed Bug Infested Cities in the United States
A survey conducted by a reputed pest management company in 2013 has yielded the following list of bed bug cities in North America:
- New York
- Los Angeles
In addition to these bed bug cities, the following cities in US have also reported an increase in number of bed bug complaints as compared to the year 2012:
- Sacrament- An increase of nearly 54%
- Milwaukee- Nearly 53%
- Las Vegas- 50%
- Columbus- 47%
- Baltimore- 46%
- San Bernardino- 41%
- Louis- 40%
- Cleveland- 36%
- Louisville- 31%
- Denver- 28%
What time of the year are bedbugs most common?
In the bed bug cities mentioned above, nearly 49% reported an increase in the number of complaints in warmer months. However, in remaining 51% bed bug cities, the problem was reported throughout the year.
Where are bedbugs seen in the bed bug cities?
Bed bugs are more common in residential dwellings but they are also being reported in schools, offices and shops. Movie theatres are also not spared. Nearly 9 out of 10 pest control professionals report treating single family homes, condominiums and rental apartments.
Here are further statistics regarding bed bug cities in United States:
- Nearly 75% of infestations are also seen in hotels and motels.
- 47% of college dormitories reported an infestation.
- 46% of nursing homes had increases infestations as compared to 2011.
- Office buildings and schools reported 36% and 41% infestations.
- Public transport and libraries came in last with 21% and 12% infestations across the country respectively.
Bed Bug Infestation: A bit of good news
A bit of good news in these reports is that the compared to data received in 2011 and 2012, the year 2013 actually saw adecreasein number of bed bug infestations inmovie theatreswhich was down by 10%.Airlinesalso reported fewer infestations, (nearly by 2%) andretailstoreswere down by 21% as compared to 2011.
Why are detection methods not as effective as they were?
Researchers believe that we have more bed bug cities in USA today than ever due to the fact that the bugs have developed genes that help them produce anti-pesticidal substances. Moreover, simply visual observation for detecting bed bugs is no longer reliable; pest control companies are therefore encouraging consumers to use active monitoring traps and pitfalls to detect bed bug presence.
It is an Epidemic
The rise in number of bed bug cities is showing that America is in the midst of a bed bug epidemic. It is therefore essential that complete removal of bed bugs is done using Integrated Pest Management systems that include heat treatment, the use of right products and continuous monitoring. Only this can help prevent infestations so we can reclaim our bed bug cities back.
Got bed bugs?Here are 10 products that can help you get rid of and prevent them.
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In this Article
In this Article
Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.
Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.
Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.
Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.
Where Bed Bugs Hide
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.
Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.
When Bedbugs Bite
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.
Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.
People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Signs of Infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.
Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.
If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.
Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
- Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
- Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
- Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.
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.
Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."
The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."
Top 7 Best Bed Bug Traps and Interceptors (2019)
Just the thought of big brown bed bugs crawling on your bedsheets and body during the night is enough to give one the jitters. Bed bugs may be the peskiest parasites in existence. Unlike other ectoparasites like mosquitoes and leeches, bed bugs are far sneakier and usually only come out to feast on humans when they are asleep.
Although various methods that must be used in conjunction with each other to get rid of these pests, bed bug traps are a good way to monitor and control infestations in its early days. In this guide, we have reviewed the best bed bug traps and interceptors in the market for your convenience.
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How Different Types of Bed Bug Traps Work
Bed bug traps come in several different forms and work on different principles. However, in the end, all of these are effective for trapping these blood-sucking parasites.
Bed Bug Interceptors
Bed bug interceptors are the most common types of traps that are available in the market. They consist of concentric outer and inner chambers in a single cup and are usually placed beneath your bed legs. The outside wall has footholds for the bed bugs to crawl up, but the inner walls are slick so that once the bed bugs fell inside the trap, they can’t come out. You can make the inner walls slicker by adding some talcum powder to them.
Glue traps usually come with a special lure that either gives out the smell of carbon dioxide or pheromones, which are both bed bug attractants. Once the insect crawls onto the trap, the adhesive holds it tight, so it can’t escape.
This kind of trap gives out carbon dioxide gas which trick bed bugs into thinking the source is a sleeping human a.k.a a bloodmeal. When the bed bug approaches towards the trap, it gets caught in a sticky adhesive and become trapped there.
Electronic Heat Dome
Similar to the glue and CO2 traps, these traps lure in bed bugs to a sticky death. However, their lures consist of heat and light, and they work with electricity.
Encasement Mattress Cover
Encasements mattress work very well to trap bed bugs that are living inside your mattress. These covers are made of dense and tough fibers and a proper zipper that does not allow bed bugs to come out of the mattress. As a result, bed bugs eventually die of starvation after some time. However, since bed bugs can live without blood for over 400 days, it is best that you leave the cover on for at least that amount of time, to be effective.
7 Best Bed Bug Traps: Review
|Harris Bed Bug Trap (4/Pack) *|