How to identify bed bugs
Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye during all stages of development. The adult beg bugs will lay eggs and after hatching they will go through a nymph or larvae stage. They then continue growing into adults, both nymphs and adult bed bugs appear different after having fed, in which they are visibly full of blood.
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What bed bugs do
Researchers believe bed bugs evolved from pests that fed on the blood of bats. When cavemen started sleeping in caves with bats, a new species evolved over time that survived on human blood. The cavemen left the areas where the bats were, but the bed bugs tagged along and have been traveling the world with humans ever since.
The pests need blood to survive, so bed bugs stay close to a human “host” and become active at night between midnight and 5 a.m., according to bed bug expert Dini M. Miller. She wrote that bed bugs are attracted to CO2 emitted from a sleeping host’s breath and their body heat.
The way bed bugs work is that they aren’t on the host all of the time; they sort of hang out near the habitat and then they go and feed for 10 minutes to 15 minutes and then retreat back to their surroundings and hang out until they feed about once a week.
People who are bitten by a bed bug often develop an itchy spot that looks like a mosquito or spider bite in the coming days or weeks, but not everyone reacts. Luckily, bed bugs aren’t able to infect humans with diseases.
Bed Bug Habits
The pests hide in cracks and creases during the day, typically close to where the human host sleeps, but even if the bugs are hiding they can leave behind signs of their presence. Clues that bed bugs are active include finding smears of blood on sheets and black fecal spots or molted skins along mattress seams.
The bugs don’t only live in beds — they also like baseboards, loose wallpaper and personal belongings. Couches, wheelchairs and other places where people spend significant amounts of time are favorites as well.
They are active at night and will crawl considerable distances to reach sleeping human hosts for a blood meal. Most people develop lumps or swellings when bitten, an allergic reaction to the saliva the bugs release as they feed. Bed bugs do not burrow under your skin to feed, but use piercing, sucking mouthparts to gain access to blood. When they feed, they inject their saliva into skin, causing allergic reactions and skin irritation, much like mosquitoes. However, their bites are often not felt at the time.
- Bed bugs can survive without food for 80 to 140 days; older stages can survive longer without feeding than younger ones.
- Adults have survived without food for as long as 550 days.
- A bed bug can take six times its weight in human blood during a nighttime feeding, and feeding can take 3 to 10 minutes. What we know about bed bug behavior tells us this feeding and mating cycle will continue relentlessly. That is why you need a professional. Bed bugs are very difficult to control for several reasons. They can go a whole year without feeding, can survive any temperature between freezing and 122°F and are even evolving to resist standard pyrethroid insecticides.
Signs you may have bed bugs
You may not be able to rely on bites as a sign of bed bugs. Bed bug bites can be hard to differentiate from other insect bites. Instead, look for secondary signs of bed bug infestation as well, such as shed skins, rust-colored spots on the mattress and bedding (bed bug feces), blood spots on your sheets and pajamas and a musty, sweet-smelling odor.
Physically spotting these insatiable insects is the gold standard for diagnosing a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, bed bugs are nocturnal so catching one is difficult. If you get lucky, place captured bed bugs in a sealed container and show them to an expert.
Be sure to call Beeline at the first sign of bed bugs. We understand bed bug behavior and will provide a free bed bug inspection for your home and a battle plan to win the war against bed bugs.
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