Bed Bugs

History of the Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs Most of us have only known this small parasitic insect through a well-known saying, "Sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite". Truth be known, these insects have followed us throughout the course of human history for longer than most of us can imagine. Originally being a species favoring the blood of bats, cohabitating with our fellow flying mammals in the distant past gave a few of these opportunistic creatures a more easily obtainable food source. Humans! Over time a new species came into being. We now make reference to them as the Bed Bug. Beaten back somewhat by 20th century technology and materials, the 21st century Bed Bug has raised it's true Bug self into a dominant pest throughout modern society. International travel, multiculturalism and other factors have been catalysts for the propagation of this species of pervasive insect into the modern world. Although other parasites such as fleas and mosquitos seem far more intrusive into to our everyday lives, no other parasitic insect seems to evoke fear and social stigma more than the Bed Bug. No pathogen or disease has been documented or proven to be transferred through an Bed Bugsencounter with the Bed Bug. In comparison, Bubonic Plague, often called the Black Death of Europe, was the result of a pathogen within fleas and carried by rodent hosts, then being transferred to humans through cohabitation. This series of events decimated a third of the population of Europe in the not so distant past. Malaria, along with other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes has been a constant threat to mankind before and throughout recorded history. The Panama Canal almost never came into being due to our ignorant intrusion into their world. Bed Bugs seem to take a more symbiotic approach with humans. Needing only a blood meal every few days while not endangering its host outside of simple dermal reactions, which some of us never experience, Bed Bugs make a silent peace with those they depend upon for survival. They stay near, but due to their frailty, seek harborage in the safest places within and around our sleeping areas, waiting until they need their next meal. Being crushed and leaving Blood smears on sheets or pillows are often the result of us turning in bed while they are feeding or retreating to a Bed Bugsharborage area. While within their safe harborage areas, they utilize their blood meals and molt into the next stage of their life cycle. Bed Bugs exhibit a form of insect biology called "Gradual Metamorphosis". An entomological term meaning that upon emerging from an egg, the "Nymph", or "First Instar" is a tiny version of the adult although without reproductive capabilities. First Instar Bed Bugs are tiny and hard to detect even with a magnifying glass unless they are moving. Before their first blood meal they are pale, translucent yellowish white color. A reddish dark spot of colorization appears in the abdomen after the first blood meal and continues throughout the body with each successive molt and blood meal. Bed Bugs, along with other insects, have what is called an "Exoskeleton", which mean their skeleton is actually the outside part of their body, as opposed to our "Endoskeleton", which means the skeleton is inside the flesh and tissue of the body of creatures such as you and I. In order to grow from one stage to another, Bed Bugs must discard these exterior shells of protection through a process called "Molting". The exoskeleton splits apart and enables the Bed Bug to emerge and grow into the next larger stage. These discarded exoskeletons are one of several things to look for when inspecting for Bed Bug activity. After several molts, Bed Bugs reach sexual maturity and begin laying eggs. From this point, a Bed Bug population can expand exponentially and become a major problem. It's only after this process that most Bed Bug situations are discovered for what they are and so many times, panic ensues.

Knowing and Identifying Signs of Bed Bugs

Bites or rashes can be caused by a number of things and are not reliable signs of a bed bug problem. Look for actual bed bugs and their smeared feces. Bed bugs are reddish-brown, oval, flattened insects from 1/4" - 1/3" long and 1/16" - 1/8" wide before feeding. After a blood-meal, they are swollen and dull red. Bed bugs can be difficult to spot on furniture, luggage, backpacks, etc. particularly if the items are dark in color. They like to hide in crevices no thicker than a credit card. Their oval white eggs are only 1/25" and even more difficult to spot.

What can you do to reduce the likelihood of picking up "hitch-hiking" bed bugs?

What should you do if you find bed bugs where you're staying?

General Feeding Information

Bed Bug Reproduction Cycle

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Bed Bug Bites

Cross contamination may be avoided if the proper precautions are implemented.

Bed Bugs


 

Things to do if you see Bed Bug Activity:


 
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Photo 1 above is a Bed Bug with eggs compared to grains of rice.