Under everyone’s mattress hides parasites. Bed bugs are one of the most common insects in America. However it is only in the recent years that bed bugs are categorized as pests. With increase of immigrant and travelers from different places, bed bugs thrive in hotels, restaurants, shelters, homes, apartments and motels.
What are bed bugs? These are tiny, brown, flattened insects that feed on an animal’s blood. There are certain types of bed bugs that have a preference for humans. The common one, classified as Cimex lectularius, found in our homes is the insect adapted to living with humans.
Bed bugs can be mistaken for ticks in their adult stage. They do not fly like cockroaches but they are agile and can move really fast over walls, floors and other types of surfaces. What makes them a pest is that bed bugs are very resilient. They can live without food (blood) from their host for up to a year. This means these parasites can lie dormant, just waiting for an unsuspecting victim to arrive.
The bed bug’s nocturnal behavior makes it hard for people to identify if they have one on their furniture. Eliminating them is also a problem. If people cannot see where the bed bugs are, it can be hard to determine if they were all killed when pesticide is applied.
Bed bugs are great hiders and usually come out to feed on a blood meal in the middle of the night. It is not confirmed if bed bugs are aware that their hosts are asleep when they feed. But their habits suggest that they can more or less sense if the host is in a relaxed state.
Symptoms of being bitten by bed bugs are different from one person to another. There are people who have no reaction to bites from these bed bugs. Some experience an itchy, swelling bump on the skin where the bed bugs had their fill. Others have leave inflamed welt marks on their victims.
Bed bugs feed on their hosts by piercing the human skin with long beak, which they use to suck the blood. Much like fleas and mosquitoes, their bodies become engorged in three to ten minutes without the victim noticing. Perhaps it is their patience in getting the blood meal that makes it hard for human to realize what is happening to them
A major concern is the possibility of transmitting disease. There has been no documented case of a disease passed on by bed bugs so it is dismissed by science. The extent of their damage to their hosts is limited to itchiness and swelling from their bites.
The real problem on bed bugs is infestation. They can produce three generations in a year. Female bed bugs place their eggs in very secluded areas like the folds in the mattress, and deposits eggs of up to five a day. Because of this their numbers continue to grow without the human’s knowledge. Soon they spread around the house and an infestation occurs. These infestations can cause anxiety and loss of sleep.
How do you know if your bed is infested with bed bugs? Answer three simple questions to find out:
· Do you wake up to find an itchy and swelling welt on your neck, face, arms, shoulders, etc when you had none before sleeping?
· Does your mattress have dark stains and spotting?
· Do you wake up to see small reddish brown spots on the sheets, pillowcases or walls?
If you answered, “yes” to two out of three questions above, then it is likely that you are lying in a mattress full of bed bugs.
The best way to get rid of them is to throw away your mattress. Bed bugs can live in wait for a long period of time so even if you try to wash it, they may resurface. Using pesticides on the bed can be dangerous for the owner. So only a new mattress is the solution.
Eliminating and entire home for bed bugs can be tedious. So if you can afford it, make sure you get your home pre-treated against these parasites. And since these insects also live in carpets and sofas, the best defense is prevention.