Basic Bed Bug Facts

Bed bugs are an irritating household pest. They can be found around the world, and are known by many other names, which include wall louse, mahogany flat, crimson rambler, heavy dragoon, chinche and redcoat.

Bed bugs are particularly common in hotels and apartments, especially in urban areas. They can travel from room to room very easily, and in a hotel environment they can spread quickly, almost entirely unimpeded by any effort to clean one particular room.

Bed Bug Identification and Prevention

Bed bugs leave painful, scratchy bites that are about the size and shape of a mosquito bite. Although their most common name is derived from their preferred habitat, beds, they will make their homes inside any household furniture, as well in dark areas behind walls and cabinets.

Bed bugs aren’t dangerous, however, and they can’t spread any diseases. Their most common signs are blood stains in the folds of your furniture in mattress, and eggs, which are white, nearly transparent, and about the size of a sesame seed. Bed bugs are roughly spherical, and about 5 millimeters long, or nearly the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs exoskeletons are rust colored, and they elongate significantly after feeding.

As parasites that feed only on blood, bed bugs are a particularly disgusting presence in beds and furniture. Although a bed bug can actually live an entire year without feeding, it will feed every week or so if given the chance.  When a bed bug bites, it injects its saliva, which is an anesthetic and anticoagulant. This mixture is effective enough that very few people ever feel the bite of a bed bug. It’s actually the swollen after effects that cause the most irritation. The feeding process takes only five to ten minutes, then the bug returns to it’s hiding place, fully engorged on human blood.

There are many online resources of photos and treatment information for bed bugs and bed bug bites, as well as prevention products and canine scent detection services. Travelers can find products and precautions specifically targeted to them, and there are hotel registries that help to avoid visiting infested travel spots. All of these informational sites, but especially the photos, can be useful in your battles against bed bugs.

Bed Bug History and Treatment

Bed bugs, along with many other household pests, were nearly eradicated in the 40’s and 50’s with the use of DDT and other strong pesticides. It’s not certain why they’ve become more common in the United States and other developed countries since the 1990’s, but increasing international travel and trade is certainly a contributing factor. The shift from proper insecticides to less toxic chemical formulas has increased the population of bed bugs as well.

There are also a variety of ineffective home remedies that have been propagated through the internet, and some of these have surely contributed to the growth of bed bug infestations. Throwing your furniture out is one of the most common treatments, and not only is it expensive, it’s also completely ineffective. Bed bugs often reside under folds of carpet and behind walls, so throwing out your furniture will just allow the rest of the bed bugs to re-infest your home. It’s also very common for an unsuspecting person to pick up your old, infested furniture and bring it into their home, thereby creating an entirely new problem.