What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs existed right from the dawn of mammals. Residing in caves, these bugs derived their food by sucking the blood of bats and our ancestors.
They are scientifically known as Cimex Lectularius. They get active during the night when we are asleep. These bugs, feed on our blood just like mosquitoes. Although the bed bug is known to be a nocturnal animal, it can also be active during the day. An adult bed bug is light brown or reddish-brown in color. It has an oval shape and does not have hind wings. It has a banded appearance because of its segmented abdomen and micro hairs. Its maximum size is roughly 4-5 mm long and 1.5-3 mm wide.
Where do They Come From?
Bed bugs can be found at any public place. They are more like hitch hikers. They will piggyback on a victim or his luggage and then reproduce wherever they go, provided both genders are present. In this manner, they can spread anywhere. They normally feed about once a week and are known to go without food for even a year. This makes them very efficient travelers and survivors.
Even though they are called bed bugs, it does not mean that they thrive only in beds. They can be found anywhere i.e., in benches, chairs, tables etc. They can flourish in parks, schools, hotels, public transport, etc. Anyone frequenting public places can be carriers of bed bugs. All it takes is a pair of these creatures, to produce a whole new battalion in your house.
A bed bug that is hunting for a meal is able to detect the presence of a victim from the carbon dioxide released by it. While we are asleep, the bug can sense our presence even from a distance, due to the carbon dioxide we exhale. It then heads toward the victim. Once it reaches the victim, it uses its heat sensors or antennae to find a juicy spot to feed on. Once that spot is found, it injects its proboscis through the skin and into the blood stream. It then releases an anesthetic into the blood that prevents the victim from waking up, thus allowing it to feed at leisure. In order to ensure that the blood does not clot while feeding, it releases an anticoagulant. This bug can drink as much as 3 times its body weight in one session.
How can They Harm Us
Another word for bed bug bites, is Cimicosis. Bites from these tiny critters can result in bed bugs rash, allergy, blisters, etc. They are also known to cause psychological problems in victims. Studies show that bed bugs harbor 28 pathogens that are harmful to humans.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs
Prevention is always better than cure. By following some simple precautionary measures, you can definitely reduce chances of infesting your home with these bugs.
- Hotels – When residing at a hotel, before you head off to bed, check the bed for bugs or tiny blood spots. Check the mattress and sheet especially, along the edges. Keep your luggage outside the room, until you have inspected the bed thoroughly.
- Laundry – Put your laundry into plastic bags, so that bed bugs cannot escape. On reaching home, dump your dirty linen into the washer. Also, check the clothes you are wearing. Undress on a hard ground, so you can easily notice any bugs that fall off your clothes.
- Luggage – Vacuum clean your luggage when you get home. Wash your items with soap, if possible, and focus on corners, as these are places where bugs thrive. Do not bring used mattresses home, as you could be bringing bugs along.
How to Get Rid of Them
If you find that your house is infested, there are a few things you will need to do, in order to get things under control.
- Call in the pest control service to address the situation. They will mostly use chemical pesticides. Remember that these pesticides are toxic and if you have pets or kids in the home, you will have to get them out until the job is done.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to suck out clusters of bugs that you may detect.
- Steam is another way to flush out the bugs from their hiding places.
- Temperature is another method that can be used to eradicate them, but certain equipment will be needed for doing this.