The common bed bug, formally known as Cimex Lectularius at big pest control conferences, resemble apple seeds when in the adult life stage of their bed bug life cycle. They are flat, ovoid in shape, wingless, ectoparasites that feed exclusively on blood-meals. Bed bugs have become a trending topic of interest in recent years as bed bug infestations have exploded throughout North America. Most notably within urban centers that have dense populations, like Toronto, Ontario. The problem has become such an epidemic that many locales, including New York City, have implemented local laws explicitly designed to deal with the current bed bug scourge.
Is there more than one kind of bed bug?
Yes, in the vast richness of our planet’s animal kingdom there is more than one type of “bed bug.” Approximately 90 different species are belonging to the bed bug family, also known as the Cimicidae family. Each species within the family are parasitic, warm-blood sucking insects, with ovoid body shapes and six legs.
None can fly yet all have non-functional wing pads. Out of all the Cimicidae family members only three are known to feed on humans:
- The common bed bug, or Cimex Lectularius
- Tropical bed bug, or Cimex Hemiptarius
- Bat Bug, or Leptocimex Boueti
Of the three bed bugs that opt for human nourishment, the common bed bug, or C. Lectularious is the most popular in North America.
What attracts bed bugs?
If you are alive, warm and breathing then you are a bed bug magnet.
So, how do they know where to find people? Bed bugs are able to detect the sweet smell of carbon dioxide on our exhaling breaths and sense the warmness of our bodies. Especially when people are lying still, such is the case when people are sleeping. And while people are sleeping, bed bugs have a good amount of time to seek out and zero in on a blood-meal host. When they get going, they can travel about 1 meter per minute, meaning they can get far in one evening of meal seeking.
Can One Bed Bug Cause an Infestation?
Unfortunately, the horrifying answer is yes. This is because just one, fertilized female bed bug, can lay viable eggs. And when those tiny eggs do hatch, there will suddenly be more than only one lone lady bed bug calling your couch home. But, can those babies eventually make more babies? Why yes, they can! Those baby bed bugs won’t be lonely for long, inbreeding is a common mating practice among bed bugs. Those little baby bed bugs will be making whippersnappers of their own in no time! Or, more precisely, in about 37 days. If you’re fortunate, and a lone male bed bug finds himself couch surfing at your casa, an infestation will not occur. A single male bed bug cannot make bed bug babies on his own. He may just hang around nagging you for control of the TV remote.
Where do Bed Bugs Nest?
Bed bugs will nest anywhere that is small, tight, and not easy for you to find. If you happen to spot them on bed sheets, it is likely you will notice some blood stains, bed bug exoskeletons from shedding, or their droppings. They are not hard to spot, since on light colored sheets they will stand out with their bloody brownish color. The most common places where bed bugs nest:
- Bed frames / headboards
- Walls / ceilings
- Dresser and nightstands
- Couches and chairs
- Box springs
Bed Bug Epidemics – Where Are They Most Common?
The most common places with bed bug epidemics have reportedly been in: single-family homes (91 percent), apartments/condominiums (89 percent), and hotels/motels (68 percent), according to PestWorld.org. As we know, bed bugs do not have a specific preference for location. As long as there are food sources available and a nesting place, they will be satisfied. As mentioned previously, they do not favor dirtier residences over cleaner ones, the amount of clutter does however, entice them to stay since they love hiding spots.
Not only in residential areas, but bed bugs can be found even in places such as:
nursing homes (59 percent, schools and daycares (47 percent), offices (46 percent), college dorms (45 percent) hospitals (36 percent) and public transportation (19 percent)
It isn’t a surprise as these are highly populated public areas where people could easily bring in bed bugs to create an infestation. How serious could a bed bug infestation be?
Can bed bugs transmit disease?
Bed bugs are reported to have been connected to the deaths of just 2 people in North America. In both instances, bed bugs were not cited as the cause of death but were considered a contributing factor. So, although dealing with a scourge of bed bugs is a serious problem with potential impacts on a person’s well-being, more than likely their life will not be at risk.
How long do bed bugs live?
According to the article, by Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech’s Entomology Department, a bed bugs life span can be up to ten months long.
The most recent studies indicate that a well-fed adult bed bug held at room temperature (>70° F), will live between 99 and 300 days in the laboratory.
Another source says, the average life span for a bed bug is 10 months to a year.
How often do bed bugs feed?
When do bed bugs feed?
Bed bugs are nocturnal insects, which means they get all their errand running done at night. They typically like to feed between the hours of midnight and 5am. That time frame just happens to coincide with the “witching hours,” a time of day frequently considered to be connected too unholy mischief and devil’s work. But, scientists tend to point out that the late-night time frame of bed bug feeding is more likely because it’s when sleeping people are in their deepest sleep, making a good blood-meal available. Bed bugs prefer to dine in peace and quiet, and without disturbing their slumbering host’s dream time.
Not all bed bugs limit their meals to midnight snacks. Bed bugs will eat a blood-meal when a host is available, not just when a host is sleeping. Favorite locations for bed bug infestations, other than beds, are classrooms, movie theatres, and workspaces. What all these locations have in common is they are locations where large groups of people are sitting in one place for extended periods. These locations provide a bed bug ample opportunity to sneak up on a host and feed undetected; due to their anesthetic containing saliva. Basically, these public spaces are a bed bugs ideal one-stop shop emporium! And, if a bed bug is looking for a change of scenery, a slower pace perhaps, they can easily catch a ride home with their new found host!
Does Having Bed Bugs Affect Pregnancy?
Bed bugs in general are harmless as are their bites. However, if you are pregnant, they can affect your unborn child and you. It is possible that bed bugs can cause pregnancy complications. If your bites go untreated it could be dangerous.
According to WebMD, bed bug bites will not affect the victim unless they are continuously scratching it. If there is a sign of an infestation, you should call a professional exterminator to assess the situation. While pregnant, be cautious about what kind of pests may be living in your home.