How Often Do Bed Bugs Produce

Bed bugs: Diagnosis and treatment

How do you know if you have bed bugs?

To find out if you have bed bugs, you need to look for two things:

Bites on your body

Signs of bed bugs

Bites on your body:If you have bed bugs, you’re likely to have bites. Bed bug bites usually cause itchy welts. These welts usually appear in a zigzag pattern as show in the photo below.

Bed bug bites

When bedbugs bite, you often see clusters of bites. Each cluster usually contains 3 to 5 bites that appear in a zigzag pattern.

You’ll seldom see bed bugs, so many people mistakenly believe that mosquitoes, fleas, or spiders bit them. Sometimes people mistake bed bug bites for a common skin condition such as an itchy rash, hives, or chickenpox.

To make sure you have bed bugs, you’ll need to look for signs of bed bugs.

How to check for bed bugs

Although bed bugs don’t usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights. To help find bed bugs before they find you (and your belongings), dermatologists recommend looking for the following signs near places where you sleep.

How to check for bed bugs

Although bed bugs don’t usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights. To help find bed bugs before they find you (and your belongings), dermatologists recommend looking for the following signs near places where you sleep.

Signs of bed bugs:This step is important. If you have a bed bug infestation, you need to find out so that you can get rid of the bed bugs. Getting rid of the bed bugs is the only way to stop the bites.

If you have a large number of bed bugs, you may see the bugs. Most people, however, only see signs of bed bugs. To look for signs of bed bugs, check the places that people sleep for the following:

A sweet, musty odor.Take a deep breath. If you notice a sweet, musty in your hotel room, cruise-ship cabin, or other sleeping area, there may be a heavy bed bug infestation in the room. Bed bugs produce chemicals to help them communicate, although not everyone will notice the smell.

Specks of blood on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture such as couches and headboards.Look carefully at your blankets, sheets, and mattress pads and then check the mattress and box spring. Are there specks of blood anywhere, especially near the seams? If so, there could be a bed bug infestation. You should also check for specks of blood on all upholstered furniture, including couches and headboards.

Exoskeletons.Bed bugs have an outer shell that they shed and leave behind. Do you see shell-like remains on the mattress, mattress pad, or beneath couch cushions?

Tiny, blackish specks.If you see blackish specks on the bedding, mattress, headboard, or beneath couch cushions, it could be bed bug excrement.

Eggs.After mating, female bed bugs lay white, oval eggs in cracks and crevices. Keep in mind that these will be small, as a bed bug is only about the size of an apple seed. The photo below shows a bed bug near eggs. The photo was magnified so that you can see the bed bug and eggs.

If you do get bed bugs and have many bites or a bite that looks infected, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can treat an infection and help relieve the itch.

Bed bug with eggs

A bed bug is a tiny insect with a broad, oval body. If it has recently eaten, it has a reddish-brown color.

If you see bed bugs, they will likely scurry toward the closest hiding place. Any dark place such as inside a mattress or even a picture frame makes a good hiding place.

As you watch bed bugs move, it can look like they are flying or jumping because they can crawl quickly. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump; they can only crawl.

If you find signs of bed bugs, call a pest-control company or your property manager. You should not use bug spray or a fogger. These products have little effect on bed bugs.

Treating bed bug bites

You should see a dermatologist for treatment if you have:

Skin infection (bites feel tender or ooze discharge, such as pus)

An allergic skin reaction (skin red and swollen or hives)

Your dermatologist may prescribe the following to treat bed bug bites:

Allergic reaction.Some people may require an injection of an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine (adrenaline) for a severe allergic reaction.

Infection.An infection may require an antibiotic. If the infection is mild, your dermatologist may recommend an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription. Your dermatologist will tell you which one to use. Your dermatologist also may recommend an antiseptic to prevent a skin infection.

Itch.A prescription antihistamine pill or liquid can help. You also can apply a corticosteroid to the bites. Your dermatologist will tell you which is best for you.

At-home treatment

If you do not have any signs of an infection or a serious reaction, you can often treat the bites at home.

To treat bed bug bites:

Wash the bites with soap and water.This will help prevent a skin infection and help reduce itchiness.

If the bites itch, apply a corticosteroid cream to the bites.You can get a weak form of this medicine without a prescription at your local drugstore. Stronger corticosteroids require a prescription.

Bed bug bites usually heal and go away within a week or two.

Image
Getty Images

References
Leverkus Met al. “Bullous Allergic Hypersensitivity to Bed bug Bites Mediated by IgE against Salivary Nitrophorin."J of Invest Dermatol. 2006;126:2364-2366.

Liebold Ket al. “Disseminated bullous eruption with systemic reaction caused by Cimex lectularius.”J Euro Acad of Dermat and Vener. 2003;17:461-463.

Steen CJ, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. “Arthropods in dermatology.”J Am Acad Dermatol2004; 50:819-42.

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Bedbugs

In this Article

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.

Continued

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.

Bedbug Treatments

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.

Continued

Bedbug Extermination

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.

Sources

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."

America’s Oldest
EPA Registered Brand.

Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood. They require a blood meal between each of their five nymphal stages as they grow to adulthood, and again to produce eggs. While bed bugs do not feed on a predictable schedule, when food is widely available, a bed bug will feed every 5-10 days or approximately once a week.

If you’re wondering about bed bugs, you’re definitely not alone. According to Pest Rank, over 1.4 million searches are performed every single month on bed bug related phrases! Knowing how often bed bugs feed is crucial to understanding what to look for when you suspect bed bugs are around. When a food source is more difficult to find, a bed bug can go a very long time without a meal. In perfect lab conditions with optimal temperature and humidity, bed bugs can go up to 400 days without feeding! However, in normal room temperatures and humidity levels, the time they can go without blood is drastically shortened to approximately 3-5 months. Since bed bugs do not need to feed very often, at any one time, the majority of bed bugs in the home are digesting and not actively seeking another blood meal.

A bed bug bite is usually painless and goes unnoticed at the time of feeding. This is because bed bugs have anesthetic in their saliva, which numbs the skin. Bed bug feeding almost always occurs at night while humans are sleeping. A typical meal can last from about 3-10 minutes, but a bed bug may pierce the skin several times in one feeding to get enough blood. This can create a series of bites in a cluster or a zig zag pattern.

Bed bug bites By James Heilman, MD [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Since bed bugs can go so long without feeding, it is unwise to try to starve them by leaving the house uninhabited for a period of time. This rarely if ever works. Instead, face the problem head on as soon as you notice signs of bed bugs. PF Harris products are designed for home pest control and feature many different bed bug solutions. Get rid of bed bugs for good by finding the right Harris product for your situation.

Bed bug bites: What you need to know

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Most people who are bitten by bed bugs experience symptoms that include irritation, sores, or itchiness. But how should bed bug bites be treated and can they be prevented?

There are several ways of reducing the chances of getting bites, while the treatment options include good hygiene and antihistamines.

This article explores bed bug bite treatment and prevention methods in detail.

Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood.

While they are a public health concern, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease through their bites.

Bed bugs use a small tube-like structure called a proboscis to pierce the skin and drink a person’s blood. The pests are most active when humans are asleep, during the night and early morning.

An estimated one in five Americans have personally dealt with a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has encountered the pests.

Bed bugs can bite anywhere on the body where there is skin. Typically, bites tend to occur on areas exposed during sleeping, such as:

Many people do not feel the bite itself or develop clear symptoms other than the dots where the bug bit and some minor, surrounding inflammation and irritation. Others are considered hypersensitive to bites and develop more severe symptoms.

In most cases symptoms occur more or less immediately after the bite, but they can develop or progress over the following days as well. Without further irritation, symptoms typically resolve after a week or so.

Almost all bed bug bites will produce some degree of discomfort, typically itchiness and inflammation. Other signs and symptoms of bed bug bites include:

  • a burning painful sensation
  • a raised itchy bump with a clear center
  • a red itchy bump with a dark center and lighter swollen surrounding area
  • small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern or a line
  • small red bumps surrounded by blisters or hives
  • papular eruptions or areas of skin with raised or flat patches that may be inflamed
  • small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing
  • reddish or reddish-brown dried stains on fabrics due to bed bug droppings
  • white or clear skins, shed by the nymphs as they mature

Individual characteristics of the bug’s bite and the person who is bitten also influence the resulting sore.

While fairly rare, some people have or develop severe reactions and symptoms from bed bug bites. Serious symptoms that require medical attention include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • blisters
  • fever
  • feeling nauseous or flu-like
  • swollen tongue
  • irregular heartbeat

Living with bed bugs can cause additional health complications:

  • Increased likelihood of infection: Due to the skin’s surface being compromised.
  • Sleep deprivation: The idea of being fed on can be extremely stressful. Given that the bugs only feed at night, some people will avoid sleep or will only get fitful or restless sleep.
  • Decreased wellbeing: A continual lack of sleep has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, general fatigue, and lowered immune function. The misconceptions surrounding bed bugs, especially the mistaken association with lack of cleanliness, can add to feelings of depression and low self-esteem.

There are relatively few treatments options when it comes to uncomplicated bed bug bites.

The first recommended line of treatment involves cleaning the wound, ideally with soap and water.

For itchy bites, the following may relieve minor symptoms:

  • over-the-counter hydrocortisone, which can be purchased online.
  • anti-itch creams
  • antihistamines

Most wounds heal on their own within a week, sometimes two.

If severe swelling, inflammation, or itchiness occurs or persists, a person should seek medical attention.

A dramatic immune response may be a sign of an allergic reaction. If this is the case, one of the following may need to be administered:

  • an injectable corticosteroid
  • antihistamine
  • epinephrine medication

If infection occurs, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Severe itchiness may result in further complications, such as infection or scarring. If severe itching is experienced, people may be prescribed corticosteroid creams and antihistamine pills or liquid.

One way to help prevent exposure and potential infestations by bed bugs is to be able to recognize bed bugs and distinguish them from other pests.

In a 2017 study, some 35 percent of polled American business travellers and 28 percent of leisure travellers were unable to tell a bed bug apart from other household pests.

Common characteristics of nymphs (young bed bugs) include:

  • being less than than 5 mm in length
  • whitish-yellow and or clear-colored
  • invisible without a microscope or magnifying glass

The nymphs are easier to see if they have just feed when the blood fills their abdomen, giving it a reddish brown color.

Adult bed bugs are typically far easier to spot than nymphs. Identifiable characteristics of most adult bed bugs include:

  • an oval-shaped body
  • apple seed in size
  • a body that is fairly flat unless recently fed and inflated
  • reddish-brown to light-brown or tan color of shell, depending on how recently it fed
  • a length of 5-7 millimeters (mm)
  • three segments, an antenna with four parts, short yellow hairs, and unusable wings
  • a musty or stale-sweet scent released by glands on the underbelly

Controlling bed bugs needs the identification and complete removal or destruction of the pest’s eggs.

On average, one female can produce at least 345 eggs over her lifetime. Egg-laying females often increase the volume and frequency of feeding to support their brood.

Common characteristics and signs of bed bug eggs include:

  • they are often laid in the same places where the female choses to rest
  • they resemble tiny barrel-shaped, pearl-colored specks, no bigger than the head of a pin
  • they develop a noticeable eye spot after a few days

The key to preventing bed bug bites is to stop the insects entering, feeding, and breeding in human environments.

In the daytime, bed bugs often seek refuge in the cracks and crevices of furniture, flooring, walls, and mattresses.

The seams and folds of upholstered furniture can also offer an ideal hiding place. Bed bugs have been known to persist in vacuum canisters or units.

The insects tend to pick hiding spots near human sleeping quarters, including bedrooms. Bed bugs found in other rooms are usually a sign of a severe infestation.

Areas where bed bug infestations commonly occur include:

  • apartment or condominium buildings
  • large office spaces
  • hotels
  • vacation rentals
  • cruise ships
  • daycares
  • nursing homes
  • hospitals
  • college dormitories or housing units
  • public transportation, including airplanes
  • shopping malls
  • furniture or second hand stores
  • urban areas
  • rented homes

Items commonly responsible for spreading bed bugs include:

  • used or secondhand furniture
  • new furniture or textiles exposed to bed bugs during transit
  • items of luggage
  • chairs or loungers where people fall asleep
  • bedding or bed clothes
  • moving or storage boxes
  • shipped items, especially if held at several locations or warehouses

Bed bugs do not have a preference between sanitary, messy, or unsanitary conditions.

They can, however, be found at higher rates in places, such as hotels, if infestations are not properly cleared.

How Bed Bugs Reproduce

In order to prevent the spread of bed bugs, it’s important to understand how they reproduce. Bedbugs reproduce via hypodermic insemination, also known as traumatic insemination. Male bugs use their genitalia to pierce the females anywhere on the abdomen, releasing sperm into the body. The sperm migrate through her abdominal fluiduntil they arrive at the ovaries, resulting in fertilization of the eggs.

The mating process is traumatic for female bed bugs, and they are frequently injured in the process. The wound can result in infection and leakage of blood, which reduces the lifespan of the female. For this reason, female bugs will avoid excessive mating where possible. After mating, they prefer to move to a location where they can remain undisturbed with a guaranteed food supply. In a safe environment, a female bed bug will typically lay between one to seven eggs each day, following each blood meal.

Bed bugs generally live for 12 to 18 months. During her lifetime, a female bed bug will lay up to 250 eggs. The milky-white eggs are roughly one millimeter long, and visible to the naked eye.The eggs are deposited in crevices and cracks on bed frames, baseboards, furniture and carpets. The female uses an adhesive layer to ensure the eggs remain in place.

Because mating results in scarring, females that have mated many times within a short period of time will produce fewer eggs. Females that have time to recover from the mating process will produce more eggs. This phenomenon helps increase the proliferation of bed bugs, because pregnant females will travel to new locations to avoid male bugs.

Eggs hatch within 1-2 weeks. The nymphs that emerge can feed on blood immediately, but are unable to reproduce until they have fully matured. Theyundergo five molting stages before reaching adulthood. During each stage they must feed at least once. The time taken to mature depends on the temperature – from three weeks in warm weather to four months in cold weather.

A female bed bug may mate with any of her adult offspring, and will lay eggs continuously assuming she has access to a blood meal. Thismeans a single pregnant female can easilycreate an infestation of five thousand bugs within six months.

A 2010 study discovered that bed bug nymphs release a pheromone that prevents males from attempting to mate with them. Scientists hope to eventually use this pheromone to disrupt bed bug reproduction and reduce infestations.

If you really want to get rid of bed bugs today try SayByeBugs! It was developed as a safe and highly effective alternative among a sea of products that rarely deliver on their promises.

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