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Bed bugs live off of the blood of humans and are often referred to as “blood feeders”. While bed bug bites are not painful, the bites can cause irritation, itching and discomfort.
A bed bug infestation can easily make its way into your home through clothing or furniture. Generally, bed bug eggs stick to clothing or are brought home in your suitcase when travelling.
Thankfully, treatments are available to exterminate and protect your home from bed bugs.
Do you suspect bed bugs in your home? To take proactive measures or to determine whether or not you may have a bed bug problem, it is important to look for the bed bugs themselves along with skin sheddings. You may also notice reddish-black fecal matter on your bedding or mattress.
Bed bugs are nothing new to humans, as we play a critical role in their survival by acting as food. Bed bugs are not known for transmitting diseases to humans through bites, as we are a source of food supply for them.
However, bed bugs still pose a health risk to humans that can become very serious. After being bitten by bed bugs, you may notice red bumps or welts that look similar to mosquito bites. These bites are extremely itchy and lead to scratching. Open wounds due to scratching can lead to infection.
On an emotional level, bed bugs can heighten the impact of anxiety and depression. Dealing with bed bugs can be stressful and cause trouble sleeping which leads to a strong emotional response.
Bed bug bites are similar in appearance to mosquito bites and do cause itching. Bites appear to be painless at first but can turn into welts later on. Bed bugs bite areas of skin that are exposed during sleep, and you may even find blood spots on your bed.
When a bed bug bites, it injects saliva and extracts human blood. Bed bugs feed on blood for food which is critical for their survival.
While bed bugs are small in size, they are visible to the naked eye. Bed bugs are reddish brown in color and are oval shaped. Bed bugs have a flat body which allows them to hide under items and makes it a bit more difficult for them to be seen.
A nymph bed bug which is a younger bed bug is difficult to see with the naked eye. These nymphs are smaller, translucent or a white-yellow in color. These nymphs become more visible after feeding on blood.
Bed bugs are always on the lookout for human hosts in order to get their next meal. Bed bugs are known to be “hitchhikers” and are transported from one human being and their belongings to another.
To avoid bringing home unwanted bed bugs, it’s important to inspect your clothing and belongings before entering your home. When travelling be sure to inspect your room, store all luggage safely and keep any zippers closed, avoid unpacking if you see signs of bed bugs, do your laundry and keep your suitcase away from your bedroom.
Bed bugs are oval in shape and have flat bodies. These bugs cannot fly and have six legs and two antennae. While adults do have wing pads, these do not form into functional wings. In terms of colour, bed bugs are brown and become red after eating. The size of an adult bed bug can be anywhere from 4 to 5 mm long.
Due to their flattened body, bed bugs are able to easily hide in places such as baseboards, carpets, bed frames, sofas, and other areas. Identify if you have bed bugs by looking in these areas for sheddings and fecal matter. Additionally take note of an unpleasant smell that is sweet and musty or similar to the smell of wet moldy clothes.
Bed bugs can survive up to a year without feeding on blood and are known to travel on furniture, bedding, luggage and more.
To prevent bed bugs from entering your home it is recommended that you check all second hand items, reduce home clutter, vacuum and dust frequently, take precaution when washing laundry in shared washers, check all pets for bed bugs, cover your mattress, inspect new homes before purchasing, seal your home, and check your luggage and clothing when travelling.
Bed bugs feed on warm blood from mammals to survive. The most common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) prefers to consume human blood. However, there are other species that prefer to feed on bats and other animals.
The lifecycle of a bed bug begins with an egg that is 1 mm in length and white in color. A female bed bug will lay approximately 500 eggs within its lifetime. These eggs can be found in clusters along cracks and crevices in your home. It can take two weeks for these eggs to hatch and begin feeding on warm blood.
Young bed bugs that hatch are referred to as nymphs. Nymphs may look like adult bed bugs but are smaller in size and are not mature. These nymphs are yellow-white in color and in order to mature, nymphs must feast on mammal blood. Nymphs become adults in up to 5 weeks.
After 5 weeks, nymphs become adults. These adult are mature and they can live up to 4 to 6 months. In cooler areas, adult bed bugs can live up to a year even if they do not have food.
Bed bugs are known to be difficult to remove, as they reproduce quickly and are difficult to spot. Identifying bed bugs and eliminating them is possible with DIY products or professional help.
The first step you can take to get rid of bed bugs is by simply keeping areas clean in your home. Start by reducing hiding spots and reducing clutter. Bed bugs are attracted to blood, warmth, carbon dioxide and dark areas. The fewer unnecessary items you have in your home, the less place there are for bed bugs to hide.
If you have spotted bed bugs in your bedroom, wash all bedding and clothing at the highest heat possible. When moving items from room to room, ensure they are enclosed in a sealed plastic bag.
Once you have taken these steps, you can try to use DIY products to eliminate bed bugs and keep them at bay. However, if the problem persists it is recommended that you contact a certified pest removal specialist.