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What's Bugging You?
Bed bugs have been around for centuries. In the United States, bed bugs were very common until about World War II.
With the use of pesticides such as DDT, a great decrease in infestations occurred.
It was not until the last decade that reported cases indicated a rise in bed bug infestations.
Possible factors fueling the return of the bed bug include:
Increase in international travel.
Increased resistance to certain insecticides.
The introduction of new pest control methods that leave bed bugs unharmed (treatments and treatment sites are more pest-specific, i.e. bait treatment for roaches).
Adult bed bugs are less than 1/4? long (the size of an apple seed), flat, oval-shaped and brownish-red in color.
Bed bugs feed only on blood from mammals and birds.
Bed bugs are not known to transmit any human diseases.
They have piercing mouthparts like a mosquito and inject fluids into the wound to prevent coagulation and numb the “bite” site.
This fluid may cause the skin to itch and become swollen although some people do not have a reaction to bed bug bites.
Scratching causes sores which may become infected.
Bed bugs have claws on their legs used for gripping rough surfaces. They do not have pads like roaches, so they cannot climb smooth surfaces such as glass.
Their life cycle, under ideal conditions, takes four to five weeks (egg to egg).
They attach their eggs to surfaces, usually in crevices where the bugs hide in loose groups or clusters (this grouping behavior is similar to that of German roaches).
The immature bed bugs need a blood meal to molt and grow into their next developmental stage (there are 5 stages).
Adult bed bugs can survive for 6-7 months without a blood meal.
In some cases they survive without humans by feeding on birds and rodents.
A female may lay 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime (approx. one year under ideal conditions), laying anywhere from 1 to 5 eggs at a time.
Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices during the day and come out to feed at night when the host is unaware they are being fed upon.
They are attracted to carbon dioxide and heat produced by their host.
Activity starts around 7:00 p.m. and continues until midnight or later.
There is a sharp decline in activity after 7:00 a.m., but they can adapt to daytime sleepers if hungry.
Bed bugs like darkness, dryness, rough surfaces, wood and fabrics.
Some of the most common ways bed bug infestations may be introduced include:
Spending the night in an environment which is already infested by bed bugs.
Having a guest visit who has come from such an environment.
Renting furniture or buying used furniture or bedding.
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