5 Great Bed Bug Truths – Know Your Enemy Well
1. Bug’s Life – The Real Picture of Bed Bugs
Cartoon makers and animated movies make them like cute little creatures. Thus we find amusing bugs images in modern day kids’ books, comic magazines, and commercials with characters imitating human attributes. But to most adults, bed bugs appear nasty because of the known trouble they bring.
2. The Real picture
Bed bugs are so tiny which could be mistaken as ticks and cockroaches because of their physical appearance. They are as small as 1/4 inch in size, with flat oval shape and wingless. They belong to the insect specie Cimicidae and specifically classified in entomology as the “Cimes Lectularius.”
Under naked eyes, they look just like tiny apple seeds. One cannot see the real image of bed bugs without an aid of a magnifying tool. To be able to study its external anatomy, it must done through a low powered microscope. Bed bugs appearance and color is similar to young cockroach minus the wings and the long hind legs. Its is reddish brown in color. Tiny hairs running across their backs form stripes. The bed bug’s armor are translucent especially those of the young ones. Like other insects, their body support is the armor itself, meaning they have no bones. Their body is shaped as flat and oval. They grow to a size of about 5mm or .039 inch. Its size and shape enables them to hide in intricate crevices of beds and furniture and dark places around the house.
Just by looking at them, it would appear that they are tiny innocent and harmless creatures. But if we will closely examine their lifestyle, it will be found that they employ a very smart system of feeding, traveling and reproducing.
Bed bugs are nocturnal insects who sleep by day and active at night time. They are attracted to human body temperature and carbon dioxide it exhales. They attack their victims at the time they are fast asleep which is about 4 am or an hour before dawn. These pests have two hollow tubes as their mouth which pierces the skin of their host. One of the tubes injects saliva with anticoagulants and anesthetics. The other one is used to suck blood. The anesthetic substance keeps them feeding unnoticed until they are full. They do this for several minutes. When they are done, the itchiness could only be felt after an hour and swelling of skin could happen.
Bed Bugs travel with humans as they migrate from one place to another. They travel in their luggage, beddings, in the furnitures that get transported. Experts even propose that Bed Bugs followed humanity from the age of the cavemen to civilization. They cannot fly nor jump but they are sure good crawlers. If one may find a nesting ground, they scamper away like ants upon a sense of vibration and appearance of light. They go on top of a bed or furniture by crawling through the crevices of walls and ceilings then fall down. That is why to catch them, it is best to do it by waking up slowly at an hour before dawn then make use of a flashlight to beam on their suspected hiding place in the mattresses, beddings, chairs and sofas or places that people used to rest and stay.
Bed bugs multiply very productively. Its eggs are almost invisible to the naked eye. So minuscule and light weight they can be carried by dusts and wind. It is resilient that it can hatch itself without the aid of its mother after about 10 days. Bed Bugs can get pregnant 500 times in its lifetime. It can fertilize 300 eggs in one pregnancy then lay them at about 5 eggs per day. This is the reason why female pregnant bed bugs get enlarged than the male counterparts.
Pictures of bed bugs show that their external armor protects them from environmental hazards and pesticides. Only a few chemicals are effective in killing them. The most effective was the DDT that almost eradicated their species in the United States in the 1950s. However, due to health hazard concern to humans they were banned in the 60s.
5. There are two ways to control bed bugs infestation. Chemical and non-chemical methods
Two popular forms are the inorganic diatomaceous earth and the silica aerogel. They are desiccants placed in their hiding places to dehydrate the bugs. The chemicals are safe for humans and domestic animals. Pyrethroids are liquid insecticide chemicals used as repellant to prevent bed bugs from creeping back into possible hiding places.
a) Vacuum Cleaning -daily vacuuming of mattresses, furniture, bedding and crevices of places where bed bugs hide. Content of the vacuum bag must be burned or disposed of carefully.
b) Steam clean and Hot drying – Steam cleaning and hot drying of bedding, carpets and curtains.
c) Housekeeping – Maintain good housekeeping of hiding places like cabinets, drawers, stockrooms, etc.
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Bed bugs or Cimex lectularius, are small oval-shaped, flat bodied red bugs without wings that feed off of blood. They are often found living inside of beds, box springs, and elsewhere.