Getting rid of bed bugs has been a problem documented as early as medieval times in Europe or during the time of Aristotle in Greece. Often attacking when one is fast asleep, bed bugs are smart creatures that choose to move when the target least knows it. Every person will have his own version of a bed bug story and most likely it will be bad.
Bed bugs are scientifically known as “Cimex lectularius”, they are wingless with a brownish ultra thin body. Various studies indicate these creatures originated from Asia but now can be seen in all parts of the world. Bed bugs thrive in areas with a warm and dry climate but they have been able to invade the northern regions because of the proliferation of heated buildings.
The adult bed bug is ¼ to 3/8 in length when it is unfed but its size will expand considerably after a hearty meal. A starving bed bug looks far more different compared to one that is well fed. Young bed bugs or nymphs resemble the adults but have a yellowish color after molting. A nymph can develop into a fully grown bed bug for as fast as one month depending on how much it is able to eat.
When they become a pest
Bed bugs start to become a problem when they become hungry for blood. They typically stay in their homes in between meals and are only forced to go out if they are starving. The warmth of a nearby body is what attracts them but they cannot detect a food source that is around 5-10cm away.
Bed bugs use their highly developed mouthparts to bite and suck blood from the skin of an unsuspecting person. Engorgement time can last as long as seven minutes or as short as one minute. An adult bed bug can absorb around seven times of its own body weight in blood. The bed bug immediately retreats to its hiding place after feasting and then lays eggs again.
A person will only realize that he has been bitten by a bed bug once he discovers the large wheals in the affected part of the body. These wheals eventually develop into a tiny read mark that will stay for at least two to three days.
Bed bug bites can also be distinguished by the orderly way the wheals are formed, unlike mosquito bites that have a random pattern. It is always advised that the affected area should never be scratched to avoid infection and immediately washed with soap and water.
Bed bugs do prefer any part of the body that has good blood flow so the reproductive organs will always be included in their list of target spots.
Solving ‘em bugs
Treating bed bug bites is only a small part of solving the problem, as the next step is actually getting rid of these unwanted visitors. Those often traveling to areas with a tropical climate are very susceptible to bed bug infestations, as the luggage they carry might become their new home. Seeing bed bugs crawl into boxes, suitcases and belongings is very difficult, as they are tiny, agile and cryptic. Homes not yet infested could inherit this problem from the use of second hand furniture, couches or beds.
Those that want to get rid of bed bugs in beds will have a difficult task at hand. Fabrics with holes and tears are perfect locations for them to lay eggs. During the 40s and 50s the use of DDT was popular, as it helped minimize the spread of bed bug infestations but was eventually outlawed due to concerns over their effects to humans.
Pest control firms have a wide array instruments to help get rid of beg bugs ranging from pesticides, aerosols and other chemical agents. Beds in poor condition or heavily infested should be automatically discarded. Regardless if the bed is thrown out or not, encasing the box spring and mattress is very helpful especially if the bugs are still there.
Vacuuming could also help in getting rid of bed bugs and some pest control experts even use portable steam machines to treat beds. Whether the infestation is minor or major, bed bugs are always a pest especially for those that want to get a good night’s sleep. Perhaps, the most effective way to avoid a bed bug problem is to practice good hygiene and observe cleanliness.