Do Bed Bugs Bite?
Yes, bed bugs do bite, that is how they obtain nourishment. Remember hearing the old saying, “Nite, nite, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”? Well, just like many nursery rhymes of yesteryear, that fun little phrase is also rooted in truth. Bed bugs bite because they feed exclusively on blood-meals from hosts; human blood is their preferred choice for blood-meals. To obtain a blood-meal, they pierce, or “bite”, the host’s skin and withdraw up to three times their body weight in blood by sucking. They have beak-like mouthparts they use to “probe the skin with” and find just the right spot to feed on. The bed bug saliva has anesthetic components, which allows their bites to be painless to a host while enabling blood to flow quickly into the bed bugs abdomen.
Will Baby Bed Bugs Bite?
Yes, as soon as hatching is complete, the baby bed bug will have to find blood to feed on in order to survive. They can live without feeding for up to several weeks. When baby bed bugs bite, they will do so more often than the adult bed bugs and for a decreased amount of time.
Bed bugs are able to live a long period of time in cooler temperatures which results in less feeding. They can live up to 1 year, or potentially longer, at 55ºF (13ºC). Do not assume that leaving your residence unoccupied will fix the infestation problem.
Bites of Three
Just like bad luck, bed bug bites often come in three’s. A common way to identify a bed bug bite from other types of pest bites is that bed bug bites typically leave three linear bite marks after each feeding. And that’s if a person has any reaction to the bed bug bite at all. Orkin, one of Canada’s leading pest control company’s reports, up to 70% of people have zero reaction to bed bug bites when first bitten. So, when red, itchy marks caused by bed bug bites do appear on a person’s skin, the assault likely occurred well before the bite was discovered.
Are bed bug bites harmful?
Bed bug bites are not considered harmful. Typically, they are minor irritations on the skin that are red and itchy. How people react to being bitten varies by person. Some have no reaction; they get to remain blissfully unaware they’ve been bitten. Others experience intense itchiness, hives, and swelling that may require medical attention to alleviate their discomfort. And of course, there are a few poor souls that have severe allergic reactions, if bitten immediate medical care must be sought.
Of greater concern to humans is the impact living with bed bugs can have on a person’s mental well-being. Sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and paranoia are all symptoms commonly experienced by people dealing with bed bug infestations. A Canadian study conducted in 2012 at Montreal’s McGill University concluded, “Individuals exposed to bed bug infestations are at risk of experiencing sleep disturbance and of developing symptoms of anxiety and possibly depression.” While that conclusion may sound mild, especially for those who’ve survived living with a newborn, the reality is quite severe. Lack of sleep, coupled with the financial costs of bed bug treatment, and resulting social isolation can all add up to a genuine and measurable loss of a person’s well-being.
Who is susceptible to bed bug bites?
If in an area where bed bugs are prevalent, all people are susceptible to being bitten by bed bugs. Bed bugs do not appear to prefer a particular blood type over another, nor do they care about a person’s hygiene routine. The overtly advantageous bloodsuckers appear to love each and every one of us humans. Just the way we are! When selecting a human blood-meal host bed bugs are all about inclusivity!
While bed bugs are not discerning in their host selection, they do seem to feed a little less from those with alcohol in their bloodstream. A study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that “bed bugs prefer alcohol free blood to blood with alcohol in it.” They also found that of the female bed bugs that ingested blood containing alcohol there was a significant decrease in the female’s ability to lay eggs after feeding. Experts do not recommend consuming alcohol as part of your bed bug deterrent tactics.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Feed For?
It takes roughly between three to ten minutes for a bed bug to feed on you and to become fully engorged with blood. When they are done, they will crawl away from you without you noticing them.
Do Bed Bug Bites Itch?
Yes! Bed bug bites itch and often, it can become an annoyance and cause discomfort for some. Generally, when a bed bug bites, it will not harm you but will leave you scratching for awhile until it disappears.
After being bitten, it is a good idea to refrain from scratching the welts so that they do not become infected or lead to a rash. Some bed bugs do not leave marks on the skin and some do. If the rash continues after a few days, visit your family doctor to ensure it has not become infected.
The area may become swollen and can last for several days until the swelling subsides or welts go away. The reaction is not necessarily from the bite itself, but from their saliva that was injected before feeding. In rare cases, the bites can lead to iron deficiency in children. Overall, the bed bug bites are not painful.
Bed bug bites will only itch for a week or two but depending on the severity it could last up to several weeks before it stops. We will discuss ways of soothing and relieving itching in this article, as well.