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Bed Bugs in Your Home

Updated on October 1, 2014
Cimex lectularius
Cimex lectularius | Source

Cimex Lectularius or more commonly known as Bed Bugs. The are the parasitic insects that prefer to feed on human blood, leaving skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. These tiny little parasites have been around for thousands of years, however in 1995, due to pesticide resistance, they have become more prevalent. If only things had continued as they were in the 1940's when they had been mostly eradicated.

The adult bed bugs are a light brown to reddish-brown color, with a body that is flattened, oval-shaped and has no wings. The adult can grow to be between 4 and 5 millimeters. The newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color and will become browner as they molt and reach maturity.

The unfortunate life span can very from species to species and also depends on feeding.

Here They Come

It's almost as if every where you turn your putting yourself and your family at risk of bringing home these little critters to feed from you.

Whether its brought into your home from a visiting person's clothing or luggage, once they've entered they don't want to leave. And with so many ways of them being transported it's wise to always keep these possibilities in mind.

  • infested items can include but not limited to; furniture, especially beds, clothing, backpacks, luggage, or on a body
  • infested dwellings or items nearby, they can move through ducts and false ceilings
  • wild animals, like bats and birds
  • air travel, infestations are increasing significantly

Note: although bed bugs may feed from pets with short hair, they do not live or travel on the skin of these hosts, therefor not a factor in spreading.

Bite Marks

A few bites.
A few bites.
A lot of bites with bed bugs shown.
A lot of bites with bed bugs shown.
A favorite location to feed from.
A favorite location to feed from.

It's Feeding Time

These little creatures of despair only need to feed every five to seven days, suggesting they do not spend the majority of their life searching for a host. If starved though it will leave its shelter and search for a host, after successfully feeding it will return to its shelter.

Feeding is preferred from exposed skin, such as the face, neck and arms of a sleeping person. The mouth of a bed bug can saw through skin and inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers. A human can respond to these in a number of ways, from an extreme allergic reaction to no reaction at all. The bite typically leaves a swelling without a red spot, however many bugs feeding on a small area will leave reddish spots after the swelling has subsided.

I See You

These nasty little buggers are generally nocturnal with prime feeding times from 10PM to 6AM, which also makes them harder to detect. They can exist singularly, but once established will congregate, to include clusters of adults, juveniles, and eggs. This is also referred to as harborage, as the insects will return after future feedings by following chemical trails to remain close to its host. While mostly known for being in the dark crevices of your mattress they can also attach themselves to your fabric seams, luggage, inside your vehicle, within furniture, bedside clutter, and most shockingly inside electrical sockets and nearby laptop computers. And not to be left out the tweeting birds nested right outside your window, bats, and rodents nests are all places bed bugs thrive off of.

Spotting the Creature

Bed bugs found along the post and railing of beds.
Bed bugs found along the post and railing of beds.
Spotting located along the seems of a mattress.
Spotting located along the seems of a mattress.

I'll Kill You

So you peeled back your sheets and covers and found blood or dark spots on your mattress, now what? Call someone!

The eradication of bed bugs typically requires a combination of nonpesticides and occasionally the use of pesticides. Only because of the pesticide resistance. Effective treatments include mechanical approaches, such as vacuuming up the insects and heat treating or wrapping your mattress or furniture. Most effective and the best treatment includes a combination of heat and drying treatments. At an hour of 113 or more degrees or two hours at less then 1 degree you should be able to effectively eradicate them. Also wise is running all your clothing and fabrics through a clothes dryer for a minimum of 45 minutes on high heat. It is very much recommended that you call a professional pest control service rather than attempting to treat these yourself, particularly if your living in a multi-family dwelling.

Note: as of 2012 there we no really effective pesticides available. Most commonly used are pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion, these historically have been most effective.

There is a concern of harm to health regarding the use of these pesticides. The carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bed bugs, but is potentially toxic to children who have been exposed to it. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reluctant to approve this treatment for indoor use due to its toxicity.

Note: Boric acid is not an effective treatment against bed bugs as they do not groom.



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