We know them as bed bugs, but the scientific name is Cimex lectularius.
Bed bugs are small reddish brown flat wingless animals belonging to the insect family Cimicidae. Their size may vary, but they are almost one quarter-inch long (5-7 mm), similar to that of an apple seed. They have an oval shape before feeding and oval to elongated shape after feeding.
These guys reproduce three times a year, especially under a favorable temperature of 70F- 80F. That’s why the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) consider bed bugs a public pest for human health. Reducing temperatures below freezing can stop reproduction and even begin to kill Bed Bugs.
Bed bugs can cause health issues, and it’s important to pay attention to them in order to prevent annoying symptoms and potential health problems.
If you’re having a bed bug problem, in this article we will tell you how did you probably get them, where do they hide, and how to avoid bringing bed bugs to your home.
Where do bed bugs hide?
Yes, bed bugs are a pest, and looking for their secret hideout can be a real challenge. You find them lurking around and have no idea where they came from. Even if you change your sheets and examine your mattress, they are apparently not there. It has happened to the best of us, and the problem is that they do not hide in one place only.
They have several hideouts, and they won’t be noticeable. Bed bugs do not have any nest, like bees and ants. So, don’t expect to see a bulky structure hanging around or creating a visible bump in your mattress.
However, similar to other insects, they also live in groups during the day, and their groups typically hide in clothes, luggage, mattresses, curtains ,box springs, beds, and headboards. You can also find them in cranks and crevices of walls, furniture, floors, and bed frames.
They feed on blood, which they obtain by sucking from their fellow humans through elongated beaks. This causes itchy bites and irritation in us human. After they do their thing, they would move from one place to another by crawling rapidly, because they can’t really fly or jump.
How do bed bugs come to our houses?
Bed bugs come to our houses from used furniture and other infested areas. They get attached to backpacks, purses, or items placed on upholstered surfaces. They can also travel from one room to another, and sometimes travel through multi-unit buildings such as hotels and apartments.
Here’s a list of ideas to consider if you want to find out where did you get infected by bed bugs:
- Through your clothes: Hitch-hiking is the most common way for bed bugs to get to your home. Remember they do not fly or jump. They only climb onto your clothes or crawl into your shoes when you’re in contact with an infested surface. They can travel in your bag without making a sound. That’s why a good measure to get rid of them is putting your clothes in a hot dryer. This will take out not only bed bugs but also their eggs.
- Through cracked furniture: If you recently received donated furniture, it can be the cause of your new infestation with bed bugs. If we’re talking about wooden furniture, and if you see cracks and gaps, the probability will be even higher. And, if you didn’t get them from there and have an ongoing infestation, know for sure they will creep into those cracks and hide there during the day. So, check any new furniture, especially if it is to be placed near your bed.
- From your neighbors or coworkers: If you visit a house with a bed bug problem, there’s a chance you’re transporting them back to your home. The same thing happens if you make contact with coworkers and they are carrying around the pest without realizing. We can say the same about schools and any shared space, which is why these shared spaces need to be disinfected from time to time. Also, if your house does not have a lot of separation to that of your neighbors, bed bugs can travel through electrical outlets, vents, windows, and other connecting spaces.
- From your Car: We often bring all kings of dirt,bacteria into our homes from outside, Bed Bugs living in your car will find a way to infest your home too.
- Public transportation: Seats in public transportations are perfect places for bed bugs to hide. Then, they crawl into your clothes and arrive to your home. This is also a public space, but controlling this problem is a real challenge. Thus, what you can do is simply taking preventative measures. Before sitting down, you can check the seating and if you see black dots dispersed in the seat, they could be bed bug droppings.
As you see, there are many ways to get bed bugs, and most of them will be unnoticeable until you’re already infested. So, when staying away, try to put your bags and suitcase on plastic materials, and inspect them before introducing them into your bed. When you return home, change and wash your clothes in hot water, and do it repeatedly if you already have a bed bug problem.
Bed bug bites and health concerns
Growing aware of bed bugs is very important, and preventing an infestation can also prevent health problems.
Bed bugs bites normally happen during the night, but can also bite when you’re sleeping during the day. Sometimes, the bed bug bite is mistaken with others because it appears like small bumps on the skin. They pierce their beak into the skin and suck your blood for 2 to 10 minutes. The bite is usually painless, especially because you’re asleep and don’t realize, and after they bite they would crawl and move to a safer place to digest the blood.
Symptoms vary in different people. Some report itchiness in the skin while others don’t even realize and take days to see the actual bite.
Bed bugs carry several microorganisms and bacteria. However, they are not proven to be effective vectors of infectious diseases. In other words, their bacteria stay with them and are very unlikely to pass to you. But still if they are not carriers of severe diseases, the skin problems they cause are enough reason to look for medical help and take care of your infestation as soon as possible.
Delaunay, P., Blanc, V., Del Giudice, P., Levy-Bencheton, A., Chosidow, O., Marty, P., & Brouqui, P. (2011). Bedbugs and infectious diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 52(2), 200-210.
Goddard, J., & deshazo, R. (2009). Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) and clinical consequences of their bites. Jama, 301(13), 1358-1366.
Doggett, S. L., & Russell, R. (2009). Bed bugs: What the GP needs to know. Australian family physician, 38(11), 880.