Bed bugs are rarely seen these days because of the widespread use of DDT during the 1940’s and 50’s to exterminate all sorts of pests in the United States. However, they are making a comeback. Hotels and motels are among the places that suffer from bed bugs infestation. According to studies, their comeback may be attributed to international travelling of Americans to countries with bed bugs infestation on hotels and motels and the immigration to the States by people from countries with bed bugs infestation. You will not be even sure if your own household is bed bugs free. If you haven’t seen one but suspect that one hitched on your clothes and has started a colony on your home, try to know the basic things about them so that you would know if you need to treat your home from infestation.
Genera and species – Bed bugs are small, brownish in color, flat, nocturnal insects. Bed bugs belong to the family Cimicidae that live by feeding on human and animal blood. Bed bugs with scientific name Cimex lectularius are the common household bugs. They are the species of that feed on humans and have adapted to human environments. These type of bed bugs are found in temperate climates. Believe it our not, they are the same bed bugs that torment people from the ancient times.
There are other bed bugs species such as Cimex hemipterus which are found in tropical regions like Florida. These types also infest poultry and bats. Another species, the Leptocimex boueti which are found in the tropics of South America and West Africa infest not just humans but bats as well. Bed bugs species with scientific namen Cimex pilosellus and C. pipistrella primarily infest bats. A bed bug species of North America, the Haematosiphon inodora, primarily infests poultry.
Physical characteristics – Adults are small, oval, flattened, reddish brown, and wingless. Many people think that they are so small and move so quick that they are not anymore visible to the naked eye. Adults grow to 4 to 5 mm in length and although they move fast, they are not as fast as other perceive them to be. People do not see them because they stay still on bed, sofa or matress crevices and bite people only when they are still (such as when we are sleeping). Newly hatched nymphs are translucent. Their color become become browner as they reach maturity. Their size are often compared to appleseeds.
Feeding habits – They can live more than a year without feeding. But when a host is present, they feed regularly every five to ten days. Although they may attempt to feed on human blood any time of the day, they are generally active and feed only at night. An hour before dawn is their peak attack. Bed bugs, like any other insect that feed on human blood such as leeches, inject anesthetics on the skin of their hosts so that piercing and blood sucking won’t be felt by the human host. This is made possible with their two hollow tubes. One of their hollow tubes releases saliva that contains an anticoagulant and anesthetics while the other tube withdraws the blood. They feed for about five minutes and immediately return to their hiding place such as the bed matresses and pillows.
Health effects of their bite on humans – Unlike other blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes that carries Malaria and Dengue Fever (Yellow Fever), bed bugs are not known to have to cause transmission of any diseases that are transmitted through blood, such as Hepatitis B, HIV, and other diseases. They are not regarded by scientists as a medical threat, although they may cause severe itching and skin marks on the bitten part of the skin. Skin infections and scars may precipitate due to scratching a bitten part and this may require medical attention by a dermatologist.
A calamine lotion may subside redness and itch of the bitten part. Wash with warm water and germicidal soap first before you apply a calamine lotion.