Bed bugs are tiny, ranging approximately five to seven millimeters in length. They have the same size and shape as an apple seed. These bugs are famous for biting and causing itchy red bumps on the skin. Also, they are able to lead to other undesirable health impacts, such as insomnia and anemia. These bed bugs do not fly or jump, but they still manage to discover their way into countless homes each year. Keep reading to learn where bed bugs come from and how to get them.
Where Do Bed Bugs Come From? And How to Get Them?
Even the cleanest homes can have bed bugs. You are able to get bed bugs from any public place, including:
- Residential homes
- Nursing homes
- Educational institutions
- Police and fire stations
- Retail stores
- Commercial facilities
Also, you are able to get them in trains, cars, buses, taxis, and cruise ships, because these bed bugs search for food sources. If they fail to get a food source, they are going to move around until they find one.
It’s also easy to unknowingly bring bed bugs home with you because they are experts at finding places to hide. When you arrive home from your travels, you should inspect your clothing for bed bugs and wash everything on high heat. When you stay in hotels, you should also keep your clothing off the floor as an added precaution.
Most of the time, it is almost impossible to know exactly where you picked up the bed bugs. Even if you are aware of the signs and check for them diligently, these pests can hitchhike into your home on any person, pet or object.
The History of Bed Bugs
Historically, humans have been dealing with bed bugs for well over a thousand years. Most experts believe that humans were first exposed to bed bugs through bats in the Middle East, because there was a time when bats and humans presumably occupied many of the same caves there. When civilization developed and spread, humans brought the bed bugs to new regions with them.
The struggles with these bed bugs have been documented by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. Over time, the bed bugs spread throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, disturbing both poor and wealthy households alike. European settlers finally brought the pests to the Americas. At this time, bed bugs occupy every continent except Antarctica.
In the 1940s, a pesticide named DDT was developed to decrease the transmission of malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne illnesses to civilians and troops. This pesticide took off in the United States, and for a long time, it proved to be a powerful agent against the bed bug infestations that were very common up to that point. Unfortunately, a pesticide named DDT had several significant downsides involved with its usage. It was classified as carcinogen, and endangered wildlife populations particularly birds. Thus, in 1972, this pesticide was banned. By that time, bed bug numbers in the United States had dwindled, and infestations were rare.
Return of the Bed Bugs: Since the 1980s, populations of bed bugs have been increasing in many countries, including the United States. Experts said various factors affecting the rising number of infestations:
- Increased international travel
- A rising trend in purchasing vintage and second-hand furniture
- A change in pest control application practices in hotels
- Bed bugs’ increasing resistance to several types of pesticides (even DDT)
Where Bed Bugs Hide?
Bed bugs are able to enter your home undetected through clothing, luggage, beds, couches, and other items. Their bodies which are flattened make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bed bugs do not have nests. They tend to hide in groups. Usually, their hiding places are in mattress, bed frames, box springs, and headboards where they are able to easily access people to bite in the night. However, over time, they are able to scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice. Also, they are able to spread to nearby rooms or apartments. You will be able to find them in clean homes and hotel rooms.
When Bed Bugs Bite?
Bed bugs are active particularly at night, and usually bite you while you are sleeping. They feed by piercing your skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bed bugs feed from 3 to 10 minutes to become engorged, and then crawl away unnoticed. Most bed bug bites are painless at first, but then turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites which are mainly around the ankles, bed bug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bed bug bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.
People who do not realize they have a bed bug infestation may attribute the itching to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bed bug bites, you have to find and identify the bed bugs themselves.
Signs of Infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you did not have when you went to sleep, you may have bed bugs. Here are other signs that you have bed bugs:
- The blood stains on your mattress.
- Rusty spots of bed bug on your mattress, sheets, and bed clothes.
- Bed bug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in the areas where bed bugs hide.
- An offensive musty odor from the bed bugs.
If you suspect an infestation, you have to remove all bedding. Please check it carefully for the signs of bed bugs. Also, you have to check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Do not forget to check your closet, because bed bugs can attach to clothing. If you are not sure about signs of bed bugs, we highly suggest you call the exterminators. They are going to know what to look for.