How Bed Bugs Originate

Department of Health

Bed Bugs – What They Are and How to Control Them

Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years. They feed on blood, but are not known to spread any diseases to humans. Some people can be allergic to their bites. Getting rid of a bed bug infestation is not easy, but there are steps you can take to control the problem. There are also steps you can take to avoid bringing bed bugs home.

What are bed bugs?

How can bed bugs get into my home?

  • They can come from other infested areas or from used furniture. They can hitch a ride in luggage, purses, backpacks, or other items placed on soft or upholstered surfaces.
  • They can travel between rooms in multi-unit buildings, such as apartment complexes and hotels.

How can I avoid bringing bed bugs into my home?

  • When staying in a hotel, place your bag on a suitcase stand rather than on the bed or floor. Keep the rack away from walls or furniture. When returning home, wash the clothes from your trip and put them in a hot dryer.
  • Inspect new and used furniture before bringing it inside. Look in seams, tufts and under cushions.

How do I know if I have a bed bug problem?

  • You can see the bed bugs themselves, their shed skins, or their droppings in mattress seams and other items in the bedroom.
  • There may also be blood stains on sheets.

How do I control a bed bug problem in my home?

It can be done, but it usually requires what is called an "integrated pest management" (IPM) approach. This combines techniques that pose the lowest risk to your health and the environment. Try these strategies:

  • Clean and get rid of clutter, especially in your bedroom.
  • Move your bed away from walls or furniture.
  • Vacuum molding, windows and floors every day. Vacuum sides and seams of mattresses, box springs and furniture. Empty the vacuum or the bag immediately and dispose of outside in a sealed container or bag.
  • Wash sheets, pillow cases, blankets and bed skirts and put them in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes. Consider using mattress and box spring covers –the kind used for dust mite control–and put duct tape over the zippers.
  • Seal cracks and crevices and any openings where pipes or wires come into the home.

Should I also try pesticides?

Pesticides may not be effective and can be dangerous if used improperly. If you decide to use pesticides, follow these rules:

  • Only use pesticides that are registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (look for the U.S. EPA Registration Number on the label) and make sure they are labeled to control bed bugs.
  • Do not apply pesticides directly to your body (there are no repellents registered to control bed bugs that can be used on the human body).
  • Do not use outdoor pesticides indoors.
  • If you decide to hire a pest control company, make sure they have experience with bed bugs. They should follow the steps of IPM, along with any pesticide application. Use a company that is registered and employs licensed applicators. The Department of Environmental Conservation has a list of registered companies.

It takes time and persistence to get rid of bed bugs, and in some cases, the cooperation of landlords, neighbors and others. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be expensive when pest control companies are called in. Just remember – bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a health concern and, with vigilance, you can avoid or deal with infestations.

See the following for more information on bed bug biology and control measures:

Photo courtesy of Dr. Harold Harlan, Armed Forces Pest Management Board Image Library

Origin of bed bugs revealed

A new analysis of bed bugs from around Europe reveals that they came to humans from bats

  • By Melissa Hogenboom

30 January 2015

"Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite," goes the familiar phrase. Unfortunately the statistics aren’t in your favour, because these apple-pip-sized bugs are everywhere.

Hardly a week goes by without a news story of yet another infestation, and yet they are relatively understudied, says Warren Booth of the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, US.

Booth and his colleagues have used genetics to unveil the origin of bed bugs. They found that there are two lineages in Europe. They are so diverse, they have almost split into two species.

What’s more, their origin lies with bats.

The research, published in the journalMolecular Ecology, provides the first genetic evidence that bats were the ancestral host of the bed bugs that plague human residences today.

Bed bugs have been around for a long time, as has their association with humans. There are references to them in ancient Egyptian literature, and archaeologists have even discovered what seem to be fossilised bed bugs thought to be about 3,500 years old.

While you sleep at night they are feeding on your blood

A single pregnant female bed bug can infest an entire apartment building and the creatures are able to go through many rounds of inbreeding with no detrimental effects at all. All they need are human hosts to satisfy their thirst.

But in the 1950s they largely disappeared from our homes and hotels, due to an effective pesticide campaign. However, 15 years ago they came back with a vengeance.

Infestations are hard to treat, as 90% of common bed bugs now have a mutation that makes them resistant to the insecticides, known as pyrethroids, used to kill them.

Booth’s team sampled hundreds of bed bugs from human and bat dwellings from 13 countries around Europe.

An analysis of their DNA showed that there was no gene flow occurring between the human and bat bed bugs, even though some bats lived in churches or attics and could therefore have come into human contact.

We’re living in a time where they’re becoming much more common

The bat lineage probably dates back to when bats and humans once shared caves, says Booth. Even today it shows much more genetic diversity than the human form.

So different were the two that when previously bred together in the lab, the offspring were less fertile.

While their bites are not known to spread disease, they can cause itchy bumps and rashes not to mention the stigma of living or coming from an infected area.

"While you sleep at night they are feeding on your blood, you are a meal ticket for them," says Booth. "That can lead to enormous psychological issues."

There’s two types of people, says Booth: "the type that have had bed bugs and the people that will still get them. We’re living in a time where they’re becoming much more common."

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.

Bed Bug Infestation

Bed bugs are flat and small in size, allowing them to hide easily from view during the day when they are not active. They hide in mattresses, bed frames, bedding, furniture, carpets, baseboards and bedroom clutter. They are most commonly found in the seams of mattresses or inside box springs. However, it is not necessary to locate a specimen to identify an infestation. Their excrement leaves brown to black stains on mattresses and linens, and bloodstains may be visible where bed bugs have been accidentally crushed.

Bed bugs are commonly transported within luggage, allowing them to spread anywhere humans settle. Infestations have become a problem in domestic households, hotels, dormitories and other places of residence. Because of their small size and propensity to hide within mattresses and furniture, controlling a bed bug infestation can prove difficult.

The presence of only one fertile female bed bug in a friendly environment such as a single or multiple family dwelling is an infestation that is waiting to happen. Since a healthy, blood-fed female bed bug can produce from 200-500 healthy eggs during her lifetime and may lay from 2-5 eggs each day, the likelihood of an infestation of bed bugs is extremely high unless bed bug control efforts by your pest management professional are employed to eliminate the infestation.


Mattress Infested With Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Control

Cimex lectularius L.

Learn what Bed Bugs look like, and how to detect if you have a Bed Bug Infestation.

Find out how Bed Bugs infiltrate your home and where they are attracted to.

Learn about Bed Bug bites. their feces and how they can impact your health.

Learn how Orkin handles Bed Bugs, homeopathic cures and the cost of Bed Bug extermination services.

Where Do Bed Bugs Really Come From and How to Get Rid of Them?

‘Where do bed bugs come from’ is one question many harassed people often wonder. The following article will cover everything you need to know about bed bugs and their journey into your house.

‘Where do bed bugs come from’ is one question many harassed people often wonder. The following article will cover everything you need to know about bed bugs and their journey into your house.

Bed bugs are tiny, wingless creatures that infest our homes, offices and take away our peace of mind. These blood sucking creatures are embarrassing pests that invade our homes and minds. They feast on our blood, when we are sleeping in our own beds. They tend to leave behind a trail of poop along our walls and furniture, that makes it look very embarrassing when you receive guests. Children tend to scratch and itch on the red, bumpy bed bug bites that may in some cases become infected. But where do they actually come from? They seem to be present everywhere, but how do they originate. Before we go onto the details of the journey of a bed bug into your house, let us start with their life cycle, that is, how do they come into being.

How do Bed Bugs Originate?

Bed bugs are members of the Cimicidae family and theCimex lectulariusis the common bug that gives us sleepless nights. These bugs have been a troublesome parasite to humans since a thousand years. It is said around 1940 they were almost eradicated from most of the developed countries. However, since the year 1995, they have again started to make a presence in the developed countries.

Bed bugs reproduce by traumatic insemination. Wondering what is a traumatic insemination? Well, it is mating procedure, where the male bed bug inseminates the female by piercing his hypodermic genitalia into the female beg bugs stomach (abdomen). The sperms are injected into the mesospermalege, that is a secondary genital structure. Injected sperms via haemolymph (blood) travel to the seminal conceptales, that is, sperm storage structure. Fertilization occurs at the ovaries. Eggs are released that then hatch into translucent nymphs. They feed and moult and reach maturity. These bugs communicate with the help of pheromones and kairomones. This helps them keep a track of the nesting location, reproduction as well as feeding.

Bed Bugs – Where do They Come from

The biggest question asked by many annoyed home owners with bed bug infestation is where do bed bugs come from? You tend to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and keep your home spick and span. Yet where do these bugs come from and begin sucking on your blood? Well, let me answer your question by explaining some possible factors related to the origin of bed bugs in your home.

There are many sources that lead to a bed bug infestation. There is not a single country in the world, that has not been traveled to by the bed bugs. The bed bugs are just 1/4″ in size and can easily sneak into baggage, luggage, clothes, trailers, planes, trains, buses, anything and everything without being noticed. These bed bugs hitchhike all over the world and make your home their heavenly abode. Let us see some of the possible sources of where do bed bugs come from.

If you have recently traveled or have received a guest in your home, chances are that the bed bugs had a piggyback ride in the travel luggage and baggage. They tend to hide in the seams of baggage and become the uninvited guests in your home. If you have school going or college going kids at home, chances are they have unwittingly bought home the bed bugs from their schools or college dorms. If you have just moved or received some packages, chances are these pesky creatures moved in with the boxes and packages received.

If you have bought some antique wooden furniture in the garage sale or purchased some furniture off the streets or during garage sale or even from a furniture dealer, it may be possible that the bed bugs came into your home absolutely free. It is possible that bed bugs come in with the furniture, as these bugs can even survive for a year without feeding. Thus, second-hand furniture may come along with a first-class problem, that is, bed bugs!

Your next door neighbor may unknowingly share their problem of bed bugs with you. If you have visiting neighbors, the bed bugs may hitch a ride in their clothes, bags, etc. and start living with you. It may even happen that the creepy crawlies, just stealthily crawl through the common pipes, vents, dead spaces between common walls from the next door apartment into yours. They may move in because they aren’t getting their daily bread and butter as your neighbor is away for a few days or may be they are forced to evacuate as the neighbor has treated his home with bed bug killing spray.

Bed bugs may also find laundry as a way to get inside your home. If you use laundry rooms to clean your dirty linen, it is possible that someone with a bed bug infestation has passed on the problem to you unknowingly. Many people launder their bed lines and clothes in case of an infestation and may unconsciously bring along some bed bugs in their laundry bags. Bed bugs can easily walk into your laundry bag kept nearby and travel along with you and your freshly laundered clothes into your home.

You thought a nice vacation with your partner in a quiet and peaceful locale with help you unwind your nerves. Well, instead you come back home and get entwined into a long and irritating bed bug infestation problem. Bed bugs are very common pest found in hotels. They are found in the pillows, under the mattresses, between the bed joints and the wardrobe. As they can survive a year without feeding, they are waiting patiently in the dark corners for their next victims.

Bed bugs are champion world travelers. They have no problems traveling by plane, train, ship, buses, cars, mopeds, cycles, etc. You never know, they may even hop into a rocket or submarine and make a cozy home there. Who knows, they may even have traveled to the far, far galaxy when E.T. visited earth! (I know, I am going crazy with my imaginary assumptions!). Anyway, these are just a few possible answers to your question where do bed bugs come from. Just to be sure you have encountered a bed bug in your home, let me explain in short what do bed bugs look like.

How do I Identify Bed Bugs

Most of you by now may have few questions popped into your heads, like how do I identify bed bugs? If you can’t differentiate between a mosquito bite and bed bug bites then you might find your answer in the article what do bed bugs bites look like.

Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. The hatchlings are just about the size of a poppy-seed. The adults can measure about 1/4th of an inch. They are oval in shape and flat from top to bottom. Bed bugs are white after molting. They may even have a tan brown or orange color. After feeding you may see your blood in their body as a dark red mass. You may even come across empty shell-like skin of bed bugs. It’s just their cast skin. They generally feed in the night, when their prey is sleeping, when it will not disturb their banquet. While feeding the bed bugs inject a tiny amount of saliva into the skin and repeated bites make many people sensitized to the saliva, or it may result in a full-fledged allergic reaction in some. The bites are scratchy but resist the urge to scratch, as it will just intensify the irritation and pain. But, you can breathe out just a single sigh of relief, bed bugs are not known to be carriers of any infectious disease agents.

Apart from the bug itself, you can identify its presence in your surroundings by black marks on your walls and furniture. These black marks are the bed bug droppings of dried blood. You may even smell over-ripe raspberries in the room infested with bed bugs. One may even find blood stains on bed sheets in the morning or molts.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

So, now you know where do bed bugs come from, what do they look like and how to identify them. The next logical thought is getting rid of bed bugs. You need to look for these creatures under the tufts, seams and folds of mattresses. You may even observe small black spots of dried excrement in the corners of your walls, furniture, etc. It may also happen that you will find them hiding under the carpets, loosened wallpaper, cracks and crevices of the walls, etc. In fact, you should not be surprised, when you find them hiding in your television, computer, etc.

Now that you found the hiding places of these creepy crawlies, you need to follow some steps for getting rid of bed bugs. You should reduce clutter around the house and clean your carpets, blankets, stuffed toys with a vacuum cleaner. You can bag these household items in plastic bags with Nuvan Strips in case of a heavy infestation. You should remove drawers from desks and check properly for possible hidden bed bugs. Caulk and seal all holes and crevices in the pipes and wires in the walls and floors. Launder garments and bed linen in hot water, that is about 120° F. Vacuum the bed seams, foot boards, bed stands, head boards, carpets, etc. and then discard the vacuum bag once done. Spray insecticides that can kill bed bugs in every nook and corner of your house. You may even call in professional pest control services, if the infestation is out of control.

This was a little about bed bugs. These are real annoying bugs that suck your blood just like a vampire. It is very important to act fast and control the spread of bed bugs on the first sign of a bed bug in your house. I hope this article on where do bed bugs come from, proves to be of some help to you.

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