There are no sure-fire ways to stop live bed bugs from biting people. Bed bugs have proven to be crafty and determined. These parasitic pests are even adapting to becoming resistant to poisonous pesticides! When it comes to survival instincts, bed bugs are bad-asses. But, scientists have learned, they also try to avoid things they find unappealing. The night-time nibblers seem to prefer certain scents, colors, and terrains. By utilizing a bed bugs dislikes, we may be able to deter them and prevent being bitten.
White, yellow, and green are not part of a bed bug’s optimal color palette, so using sheets in these colors may deter them. Fabrics that are black or red in color can attract them to you; as bed bugs have demonstrated they love those two colors! A study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology in 2012, revealed that bed bugs, when given the choice of seven different colors to hide, or “harborage” under, they chose red and black more than any other color. Based on that evidence one could consider swapping out dark, sultry, satin sheets for crisp, light-colored linens. Not only will it help heat things up in the bedroom, but it will also send the bed bugs elsewhere.
Another way to drive bed bugs away, and encourage your paramour’s eyebrows to rise, is by using essential oils disliked by bed bugs. Oils from the herbs Lavender, Thyme, Tea Tree, and Lemongrass are commonly used in holistic bed bug deterrent sprays. These natural scents that people often find fresh, soothing, and relaxing, are actually annoying to bed bugs. So, while essential oils likely won’t kill a bed bug it may send them scurrying away from you; towards another more pleasantly smelling host. If traveling in areas known to have bed bug problems in their hotels, like the family-friendly mecca of Orlando, it could be wise to travel with a bed bug spray. Spritzing your belongings and hotel room, upon arrival, with a fresh scented herbal concoction may help keep you and your family from becoming bed bug bitten tourists. Finally, an excellent reason to purchase some luxurious lavender linen spray!
Changing your pajama choices can make it harder for a bed bug to choose you for a blood-meal. Choosing pajamas that cover as much skin as possible will prevent them from finding access on your flesh to feed. Thus sending them looking in another direction! If they can’t access skin, they can’t feed, it’s just that simple. There are full-on, hazmat-suit inspired bed bug pajama’s out there. If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation in your home, the suits may look pretty swanky all of a sudden! But if you’re not in a situation that requires a full-body condom approach, try sleepwear that is tight fitted and full coverage. Think base layer types of clothing. Especially when traveling, consider wearing sleepwear that covers as much of your skin as possible, while still being safe and comfortable.
There are approximately 10 quintillion living insects right now. 30 million species of insects. 900 thousand kinds of living insects. That’s whole lot of bugs. A good portion of them are indeed, our friend the bed bug.
Distinguishing between the different kind of bug bites can be tricky as many of the bites may look and feel similar to each other. There are however, ways of differentiating the different bites depending on factors such as: Size, bruising colour, itchiness, or the bodily reaction. In this section, we will discuss the bed bug versus the many common bugs they get mistaken for and how their bites differ.
In a clinical review titled Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius) and Clinical consequences of Their Bites, they discuss if bed bugs can be contaminated with disease, and if their bites can have dangerous health effects for humans.
They researched online and consulted clinical journals for information. They found that over the decades, there was an increase in telephone calls to Public Health Experts about the concern over bed bug infestations. That was a 100% increase in calls over this topic in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2002. Even though there has been more than 40 identified human diseases related to bed bugs, there is no evidence showing the transmission or how it affects humans. The common denominator found was the possibility of immunodeficiency virus and Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).
The researchers also found that the “bed bug demonstrated “vector competence” (ability to acquire, maintain, and transmit an infectious agent)” (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/183643)
To test this, the researchers would inject the bed bugs with infected HBV blood through an artificial membrane. A couple weeks later, around 50% of the bugs contained the virus. The insects were also given blood meals from chimpanzees to test for effect. But, when the chimpanzees were injected with the same infected blood from the membrane, they instantly developed the HBV infection.
Another review revealing the reaction of bed bug bites in humans, notes that the bites in need of medical attention were those that developed into 2 to 5 mm long infected lesions. They were itchy, but resolved within a week. Some of the bed bug bites reactions worsened over time, with immense scratching, redness and persisted for weeks at a time. These are all considered cutaneous reactions.
Some of the systemic reactions include asthma, generalized urticaria (A disease of the development of raised welts, hives or swelling that vary in size and can be very itchy, lasting about 24 hours in one spot), and anaphylaxis (A serious allergic response involving hives, swelling and lowered blood pressure, can lead to shock and needs to be treated immediately).
Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to eradicate, but with the right tools and strategy, anything is possible. The real problem is the bed bug resilience against pesticides and other products and of course, the human health concern with using these pesticides where we sleep.