Bed bugs have evolved from inhabiting bird nests to taking shelter in human homes. These small, wingless insects feed exclusively on the blood of mammals, particularly humans. The two species that have specifically adapted to the human environment are known as Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. These are the most common bed bug varieties that you may encounter in your home.
With their ability to hide and thrive in several locations in the home, bed bugs are difficult to recognize and eradicate.
Six facts about bed bugs to identify and eliminate an infestation:
Less than half an inch long
Eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, ranging in colour from a light tan to deep brown or orange. Nymphs (the newborn bed bugs) are approximately the size of a poppy seed. As they reach adulthood, they can grow up to 0.25 inches in length, adopting an oval, flattened shape. During feeding, they can nearly double in size.
Their namesake indicates a preferred habitat
Bed bugs prefer dark, which is why they tend to thrive in sofas, mattresses, clothing, and other soft materials around a home. Signs of bed bug activity can be seen under loose areas of wallpaper, in the corner of desks and dressers, or in the laundry. Be aware of any dark brown, black, or rust-coloured droppings that stain material. A large population of bed bugs can produce a coriander-like odour.
Bites appear in multiple rows
Bedbug bites may take up to 14 days to become visible, with two or three bites in each row.
Most bed bugs feed on sleeping hosts
Peak feeding time for bed bugs is between midnight and 5 AM. Most people who are bitten won’t immediately show symptoms and are initially unaware of the bite. As a result, prevention and identification of an infestation can be challenging. It is possible to become ill and nauseous after being bitten, and some people will experience scarring or skin infections from scratching the bites.
Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms
Most bites heal within 1 to 2 weeks; treatment includes:
- topical creams (such as cortisone) to relieve itching
- oral antibiotics (if skin irritation/infection appears around the bite)
- corticosteroids (for a severe allergic reaction)
- antihistamines (to relieve minor allergic reactions)
They can survive 2+ months without food
Bed bugs may find their way into a new home as stowaways on furniture, bedding, and luggage. Extra caution should be taken when purchasing second-hand furniture. Second-hand mattresses should only be purchased from someone reliable (or whom you know), and a thorough visual inspection of any pre-owned material can help to eliminate the possibility of bringing bed bugs into your residence.
Bed bug infestations can spread to different locations on clothing, furniture, towels, or bedding. Attempting to remove them yourself can often exacerbate the problem. Should you suspect a bed bug infestation in your home, contact an emergency pest control service immediately.
JDM Pest Control assesses and eliminates pests without the use of dangerous chemicals and pesticides. Call us for bed bug service in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, and Newmarket, ON at (416) 729-3568, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.