Bed bugs are one of the most common pests that can be found in a person’s home. However hard it is to actually ‘find’ them, bed bugs make their existence known by their creeping presence on people’s bodies and the subsequent bug bites that come with it.
That being said, a bed bug infestation is undoubtedly frustrating to deal with because information regarding the insect isn’t exactly common knowledge. Aside from that, observing their behavior and qualities is equally frustrating because they are tiny and are only active at night. To help expand your knowledge regarding bed bugs, keep on reading because here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about them.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
A bed bug is a very small insect that feeds on blood, with a special preference for humans. An adult bed bug is almost similar in size to a red ant or an apple seed, which is about 5-7 mm long depending on their age and if they recently acquired blood. Their colors range from red to brown with bed bugs that recently fed becoming a brighter shade of red. Their eggs are much shorter in length (about 1 mm) and are pearly white.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
While their name has the word ‘bed’, they do not exclusively live in your bed or mattress. They can be found hiding in other furniture as well and can sometimes be seen on your clothing after you’ve spent some time interacting with infested furniture.
In terms of location, they are most common in rental houses and hotel rooms thanks to the frequency of people from other places entering and leaving.
Bed bugs do not fly because they do not have wings. The only way they travel is by crawling on surfaces and hitchhiking their way towards other places. Their main vector for travel is humans because humans are very mobile and are their main sources of nutrient-rich warm blood. Bed bugs cling on to human clothing and then get dropped off in another location when a human decides to move.
Unfortunately for you, if a bed bug infestation is apparent in your house, then one of the most probable causes of that is you. You probably came from somewhere bed bugs were present and had clung on to you until you got home.
The short answer is no. While bed bugs carry over 25+ human pathogens, they have not been recorded nor proven to transmit diseases. The only medical concerns when it comes to bed bugs are the effects of their bites on human skin — itching, hives, and skin inflammation.
The first thing to observe if you are worried about a bed bug infestation is your own body. Do you wake up in the morning with rashes, hives, and itchy skin? If you do then check your bedding or mattress. Do you see any marks that resemble dark spots or small blood droplets? These could be bed bug droppings caused by their digestion of blood.
Try looking for the insect itself if the first two signs are present. It’s not a simple task, but there are different methods as to how you can do it.
Alcohol (and all its common forms) does not kill bed bugs. The only household item that kills bed bugs is insecticide. Mothballs can also work, but they do not penetrate hard surfaces, which makes them ineffective against deeply-burrowed bed bugs.
The only way to prevent an infestation is by deterring them from getting inside your house in the first place. As much as possible, avoid buying used furniture of doubtful origins. Make sure to change your clothes before lying down on your bed or sofa if you just came home from somewhere. If you’re staying in a hotel, inspect the bed before putting your luggage and other things on it.
Now that you know more about bed bugs, you are better equipped to handle them should the time arise. Make no mistake, bed bugs are pesky to deal with which means if you have no experience in getting rid of them, it is generally better to call in pest control professionals to do it for you.