bed bugs factsAt the beginning of the 20th Century, bed bugs were a national scourge. But after World War II, in large part due to new pesticide treatments, bed bugs were brought under control and infestations became rare. The bed bug nearly disappeared from the American consciousness, and the old saying, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” had become rather quaint.

But bed bugs have made a troubling resurgence in the 21st Century. Now it’s hard to go long without hearing about bed bugs on the news. And if you’ve ever suffered through a bed bug infestation, you won’t soon forget the painful itching and rashes, or possibly even serious allergic reactions.

Nonetheless, most people still don’t know a lot of facts about bed bugs. With so many myths about bed bugs, it’s difficult to know what bed bugs facts should be believed. However, one undeniable truth is that bed bugs are becoming a growing problem, infesting more cities rather at an escalating rate. As such, it is important to know some facts about bed bugs to be more aware and proactive about how to identify, treat and avoid an infestation.

All you need to know about bed bugs

We all know the old saying, “Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Well, if you have a bed bug infestation, good luck with that. You’re going to need it.

The saying should be “If you want to sleep tight, make sure there are no bed bugs that can bite.” In other words, don’t let them in your home at all.

Temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit kill bed bugs

This is your weapon in the battle against bed bugs. You can also freeze possibly-infected items for several days, but heat is the easiest non-chemical way to wipe out bed bugs before they spread.

Bed bugs are usually brought into homes by people

adult bed bugs kept in a tube

Adult Bed Bugs

When you visit a hotel room or somebody else’s home where bed bugs are present, they’ll attach to your clothes and luggage. When you travel, bag your clothes before bringing them into your residence, empty the bag immediately into the washing machine, and wash them in hot water. Other options are to take your clothes directly to dry cleaner or to use portable heating units, in which you can place your packed luggage directly. If you don’t have such a unit, you can place luggage in sunlight on a hot day, but this method is relatively unreliable.

Bed bugs can live for longer than a year without any food (i.e., blood from humans or other animals)

With this fact in mind, be extremely wary about second-hand furniture or clothing. Wash all clothing in hot water, and thoroughly inspect any used mattresses, bed frames, or other furniture.

Bed bugs like to live in crevices and cracks

Seal up any such places in your home and furniture, especially holes in mattresses, crevices in the box springs, and cracks in the bed frame.

Bed Bug Infestation in the wall of a Brooklyn Apartment

Bed Bugs hiding in a wall crack

Bed bugs are developing resistance to common (i.e., off-the-shelf) pesticides

If you already have infestation, pest-control experts can use chemicals to help eradicate the problem. But in prevention, your best strategy isn’t chemicals—it’s understanding basic facts about bed bugs to keep them from getting into your home in the first place.

Bed bugs are true vampires

Bed bugs like to live in beds in order to be close to you—because they want your blood. When the lights go off and you’re cozy in bed asleep, bed bugs come out from crevices in your box spring, seams in your mattress, and other dark hiding places to bite you for your blood.

 You won’t know when you’ve bitten

Bed bug bites are painless, and people don’t usually react for up to several weeks, if at all. And when reactions occur, they are often mistaken as symptoms of other conditions.

It’s almost impossible for humans to find all bed bugs in a residence

Bed bugs are masters of hiding. That’s why the best bed bug detectors are dogs, who use their keen sense of smell to detect bed bugs we can’t see.

Public complacency is one of the primary causes of the bed bug resurgence

There are many suspected factors—such as increased travel between countries and bed bugs’ growing resistance to pesticides—but one factor that individuals can control is what they bring into their environment. In other words, be very wary of second-hand beds or other furniture, as well as where you sleep when you travel.

Bed bugs make themselves at home in clean places just as much as dirty ones

As one of the most widely established bed bug facts, bed bugs are not picky and snobby about where they live. They’ll be just as happy whether a home is pristine clean or if an apartment is dingy and dirty. It doesn’t matter. They simply want somewhere – their main preference is somewhere dark.

Bed bugs live in many places outside of beds

While their name would make it seem like beds are their sole spot, the truth is bed bugs appear far beyond mattresses, bedding, pillows and bed frames. Many don’t know to look in other potential places like clothing, handbags, shoes, floorboards and baseboards not to mention furniture, rugs, drapes and structural nooks and crannies.

Bed bugs multiply quickly

baby bed bug just fed

Picture of baby bed bug just fed. We can notice when we see the red color (blood)

Each female bed bug is capable of producing four to five eggs per day. Research that has been conducted has shown that it is possible to have 5,000 bed bugs within 114 days of one female and one male bed bug arriving as well as up to 10,000 in 129 days. This illustrates how the recent infestation of bed bugs has quickly gotten out of hand, especially when many people aren’t aware they have them in the first place.

Bed bugs are nomads

Another reason that infestations have grown is that they tend to travel from place to place, hitching a ride on suitcases, handbags, shoes and clothing so that they can uncover new places to feed and breed. This is typically how they arrived in the United States and how the epidemic is continuing, especially if not enough consumers, tourists, hotels and business people take advisable precautions.

They have a distinctive smell

If you have a bad bed bug infestation, a professional will often be able to tell by the musky scent in a particular room. If the scent isn’t strong enough for humans to perceive them, bed bug dogs can be used to find their hiding spots. Where does the smell come from? Very simple: their feces.

They Come Out When They’re Hungry

Bed bugs get into the habit of eating at night when they have sleeping humans to feed on, but lacking that, they’ll come out whenever humans are around. So, for example, you could go to a movie theater during the daytime and bed bugs could be out, because humans are always there at that time.

Professional removal is usually best

Due to their ability to hide in small spaces, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to find and eliminate. Even professionals can sometimes have a tough time, because removal is extremely time-consuming. Many of them employ bed bug dogs to help locate the parasites, and then a methodical plan to get rid of them is undertaken.

Summary:

Fact: bed bugs are spreading because they are nomads, they are hardy, and they multiple quickly.

  • Fact: bed bugs aren’t particular about where they stay. They can shack up in dirty or clean places, so being a fastidious cleaner doesn’t guarantee you won’t get bed bugs.
  • Fact: bed bugs are found in more places than just beds. They like dark, hard-to-reach places, including clothing, furniture, drapery, bags and shoes

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