Bed Bug FAQ

Bed Bugs FAQs

Bedbugdot believes that pictures are powerful training tools that help create awareness! Thanks to the help from the International Bed Bug Resource Authority, we can bring this organized training and awareness to you. Although these are highly magnified pictures, they “show you” for a better learning, understanding and awareness experience.

Q: What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on warm-blooded mammals scientifically known as Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae).

Q: Why have I never heard of them?

Bed bugs have been part of world history since first recordings in the late 1500’s. People struggled with infestations much as we are today. Because of powerful residual insecticides, the numbers of bed bug infestations declined significantly and we had “reprieve time-out” from them. You can be certain that a person well up in age would remember them, but people today do not realize they ever existed. In recent years, bed bugs have re-emerged as a major nuisance, emotional and financial threat globally.

Q: Why are we seeing such a re-emergence of bed bugs?

There are several reasons why bed bugs are reproducing so rapidly worldwide.

  • International Travel – millions more people are traveling nowadays than ever before in history. Bed bugs hitchhike and travel right along with people spreading them from country to country
  • Most people have not heard of bedbugs or do not know what they are and do not believe they could ever get them
  • Many people do not react or are affected by the bites
  • There is a significant learning curve for a whole generation of pest control companies that had never heard of or dealt with bed bugs
  • Bed bugs have built a resistance to many of the common chemicals used today

One can add that up and see why bed bugs are rising up faster than we can keep up with them.

Q: What are specific behaviors that people need to be aware of?

People

Bed bugs can affect anyone; man, woman, child, all races, and creeds, rich or poor. We all share a commonality – blood. Bed bugs are blood feeders and unless you do not have blood running through your veins, you are susceptible to getting them. That means approximately seven (7) Billion people worldwide!

Bed bugs are non-discriminatory any way you look at it. It is a misnomer that bed bugs only affect dirty places or low-income environments. Anyone, whether clean, dirty, or of any financial status can fall victim to bed bugs.

Clutter and Hoarding Environments

One significant drawback for bed bug infestations to build is cluttered or hoarding situations. These types of environments provide a multitude of “hard to find” hiding places for bed bugs and can cause complete failure of a bed bug elimination process.

Multi-unit Apartments

High volume and dense population areas, coupled with the lack of money for the expense of treatments cause bed bugs to grow faster in these arenas.

Skillful Hitchhikers

Bed bugs do not “fly or jump” as some people think. Bed bugs have a skillfully impressive hitchhiking ability (can crawl around three feet a minute).

Feeding Times

Bed bugs are generally nocturnal and mostly come out at night when you are sleeping; but like humans— no matter what time, if they are hungry, they will go get something to eat. Example: if you happen to work at night and sleep during the day or if you leave for a couple of weeks and come home during day hours, they will come out to eat.

Sleeping Environment or Beds

Bed bugs got their name from gaining access to areas where we sleep or rest for long periods. The majority of bed bugs congregate in these areas. When “infestations” build, they will scatter outside the limits of the bed into chairs, couches, furniture, baseboards, under carpet tacks, electrical outlets and many other places.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs locate their host through heat, CO2 and perspiration. Some people have no reaction to the bite of a bed bug where others can experience itchy red marks. They are not disease vectors.

Lives for Months-Years without a Meal

This is debatable, but evidence suggests that at about 73° Fahrenheit, they can survive a few months without a blood meal. However, low temperatures slow their metabolism and they may live up to a year without feeding.

Temperature Sensitivity

Temperature is by far the most important element with bed bugs, and it influences all aspects of the bugs’ activities. They can withstand temperatures from nearly freezing up to 120°F.

Bed Bugs Cling to Hair and Bodies

Sorry folks, not true. If you look closely to bed bugs tarsal claw (feet), they are as cat claws, which make it difficult to hang out in people’s hair or cling to bodies.

Q: What do bed bugs look like in all stages of development?

PROPER IDENTIFICATION IS CRITICAL – It is very important to know what bed bugs look like compared to similar insects, as the treatment options and costs are very different.

[themify_col grid=”2-1 first”]Bed Bug Life Cycle[/themify_col]

[themify_col grid=”2-1″]To assist you in understanding what bed bugs look like in all stages of development, here is the Life Cycle of the Bed Bug. (Courtesy of IBBRA) We want you to notice the hand holding the Life Cycle so you can get a vision of their true size.

As you can see, the bed bug eggs and early nymph (also called instar) stages are very small and difficult to see because of their pale color. They resemble a very light piece of lint. You can also see how the bed bug darkens in color a little more as they develop.[/themify_col]

Q: What is the importance of early detection?

Keeping the time from “introduction to discovery” as short as possible prevents from a few bed bugs turning into an infestation (Breeding-ground). Although bed bugs do not reproduce as fast as many other insects, it becomes very impressive the more you have and the longer they go unnoticed or ignored.
Here is why:

The female bed bug lays eggs throughout her lifetime at a rate of around two to three (2 to 3) a day that are attached by a “sticky” substance. Once these eggs hatch, a new, pale bed bug (nymph/instar) emerges to begin its development through five stages before becoming a breeding adult. Each of these stages requires a safe protective environment, proper temperature, humidity, and most importantly, regular blood meals. All of which you and I, our homes, and environments provide plenty.

TThe newly hatched nymph is very pale in color until it feeds. When after acquiring a blood meal, it then resembles tiny droplets of blood. Between blood meals and after digestion, they outgrow their skin and cast off the old one. Like a snake, bed bugs shed their exoskeleton or outer skin…this outgrowth is called exuvia or cast skin. Through several blood meals and shedding to complete their cycle, they finally reach maturity.

From egg laying to adulthood (remember, warm temperatures, regular blood meals and environments play a significant role) eggs will hatch in approximately seven to ten days (7 to 10). Then, (with regular blood meals and protective environments) they complete their development and become breeding adults (This occurs in approximately 21 to 36 days). Within 40+ some days, bed bugs have started a brand new generation, which can continue to breed, lay eggs, which create another generation in another 40 some days.

This stresses the importance of early detection. When bed bugs go unnoticed, ignored or not recognized for months, they can build up to “infestation” levels.

Q: What evidence or signs do I look for?

Because of the bed bugs amazing ability to hide, you may not always find a live bed bug. After you have applied your bedbugdots and do your regular inspection routine, you will want to be looking in those areas for any of these signs below.

Live bed bugs, Fecal Stains, Cluster of eggs, Cast skins, Blood Spots or Smears
bedbugdot | bedbug cluster of images

click on image to enlarge

Live Bed Bugs
Nymphs in any stage (see pictures above)


bedbugdot | Adult Bed Bugs
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Adult bed bugs – a dark reddish brown in color, are approximately 3/8 of an inch in length, and are easily seen and recognized with the naked eye.

bedbugdot | bedbug, bed bug Fecal Stains
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Fecal Stains (Poop)
Bed bugs leave telltale signs. These stains appear to be minute “ink dots”, (like from a black marker pen). They will “bead up” on hard surfaces that are “impervious to moisture”. The larger the infestation, the more you will find.

bedbugdot | bedbug, Bed Bug skins
click on image to enlarge
Bed Bug Skins (Castings)
When the bed bug grows out of its skin, it leaves the old one behind. They are normally a paper-thin opaque duplication of the bed bug. Depending on how long you have had an infestation, you may find different “sizes” as each stage of growth to maturity is a little larger than the last.

bedbugdot | bedbug, Bed Bug Smear or Blood spot
click on image to enlarge
Blood Spots and Smears
Outside of bite marks, people may find blood spots. These spots are recognizable to some as rusty spots on bedclothes, sheets, furniture and surrounding walls.

Peculiar Odor
These odors are mostly associated with high numbers of bed bugs and long-term infestations. The smell is from large amounts of accumulated defecated blood and oxidized iron in blood.

Q: What about the Bed Bugs Feeding Habits and Bites?

Bed bugs seek out humans through our body heat, perspiration and the CO2 we expel when we breathe. A bed bug will feed every five to seven (5-to 7) days and can take from five to ten (5-to10) minutes engorging themselves. Moreover, if undisturbed they will swell up to sometimes five times their size with a completed blood meal. Warmer temperatures cause more frequent feedings.

Bed bugs will bite any exposed areas of the skin including neck, arms, legs and abdomen. Even though everyone’s immune system reacts to the bites, “visible reactions” to the bite of a bed bug vary from person to person. Some people show little or no reaction, whereas others may experience welts and bumps. Some people develop an allergic reaction to the saliva of the bite over time and may not react for a several weeks. The reaction usually results in small, flat or raised bumps, red swollen and itchy skin.

Bed bug bites can be very itchy and most irritating. Generally, welts heal in a few days but in unusual cases, the welt may persist for several weeks to months. Infection can occur if scratched continually breaking the skin and allowing bacteria to enter.

Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks and months can cause some people to become “sensitized” to the saliva. Continued bites may result in mild to intense allergic reactions and/or iron deficiencies and anemia and secondary infections from bed bug bites can lead to Staph, Impetigo and MRSA.

Q: How Can I Prevent from Spreading Bed Bugs In My Home?

If you should discover bed bugs there are several important rules to follow to make sure you do not spread them to other parts of your home.

  • Do not move to another room to sleep thinking you are “getting away” from bed bugs. Moving to another room will only cause the bed bugs to go searching for their next meal and you may accidentally introduce a bed bug on your pillow or blanket.
  • Do not remove an item that has bed bugs without wrapping it properly so bed bugs do not fall off in another room on the way out of your home. Moreover, notifying suspected dumpster divers from taking home-infested items.
  • Showering does nothing to get rid of bed bugs. Bed bugs do not cling on your skin. Furthermore, take lukewarm – not hot showers should you have bed bug bites. Hot water will worsen the itch.

DAILY BEDBUGDOT™ BED BUG AWARENESS

  • Apply Bedbugdots in areas where you sleep, rest, or spend time. Check for bed bugs and signs of them on a regular basis.
  • Develop a thorough weekly routine of vacuuming, change sheets, and most importantly removing clutter.
  • Protect your mattress and box springs with mattress encasements.
  • Pay extra attention to where you could “pick up” the hitchhikers.
  • Take extra precautions when traveling.
  • If you suspect or find bed bugs, call a professional!

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Do not ignore bed bugs; they do not go away on their own.
  • Do not sleep into another room
  • Do not move infested bedding, furniture or clothing to other rooms in the home.
  • Do not donate infested items to charities or thrift stores.
  • Do not use pesticides in your home.
  • Do not replace mattresses or furniture before you eliminate EVERY possible bed bug!!!!
  • Do not use a hair dryer. This will blow bed bugs all over the place!
  • Do not send your infested clothing to a dry cleaner without asking and advising them!
  • Do not use Bed Bug Bombs!

Self-treatments are “iffy” if you do not know what you are doing and in most cases, they cause the spread of bed bugs. Know that there are many processes that DO NOT WORK and/or are DANGEROUS and will only drain you of time and money causing you to do it all over again the right way.

In addition, lets us not forget the most important part – while you are working the process that does not work, the infestation continues to grow and spread rapidly causing even more frustration and cost.

Remember, if you can see a bed bug, you can kill it. It is those that you cannot see that are the problem. Always contact your bed bug professional the moment you suspect or find a sign.

PPhotographs used with Permission IBBRA, David Mora, Richard Naylor, and Lou Sorkin
Bed Bug FAQs written exclusively for Bedbugdot™ by Denise Donovan, Founder/Director of
the International Bed Bug Resource Authority(IBBRA)