Bed bugs have tormented humans since ancient times. They move quickly over floors, walls,
and ceilings but cannot fly, jump or hop. Being parasitic, they feed on the blood of animals and humans.
They are attracted to body warmth and exhaled carbon dioxide. They prefer exposed skin, preferably the
face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person. Generally, a smaller number of bites produce swelling whereas
many bites over a small area may also result in reddish spots. Sensitivity to bites ranges from no reaction
in 20% of people to extreme allergic reaction.

HOW DID I GET THEM?

Bed bugs can be found anywhere, including clothing stores, theaters, hotels, and even construction sites. People bring bed bugs into their homes unknowingly in infested luggage, backpacks, purses, furniture, bedding, shoes or clothing. They are not the result of poor housekeeping! Bed bugs can travel between apartments through cracks in walls and floors.

HOW TO IDENTIFY

Bed bugs are small, wingless insects with six legs and two antennae. When full-grown they are 3/8 inch long. After feeding, their flattened brownish bodies swell, taking on a reddish color.

Bed bugs are nocturnal and hide during the day. As a result, infestations are usually discovered through signs rather than direct observation of the bugs themselves. Evidence of activity includes clusters of dark spots or smudges on mattresses (fecal spots), especially along seams. Eggs, shed skins, and all life stages of bed bugs may also be present in these ‘soiled’ areas.

When disturbed bed bugs release a sweet musty odor that smells like coriander. If the infestation is large, the smell may be discernible to humans.

LIFESPAN

Beg bugs typically live for approximately twelve months and can become full-grown in a month under optimum conditions. Quite resistant to starvation, adults have been known to survive a year without feeding. Nymphs can tolerate starvation for about three months.

Female bed bugs cement their small, oval eggs in batches of about two to five eggs. Typical sites for egg laying might be along folds in the mattress, at joints of a bed frame, and behind molding. Eggs hatch in six to 10 days, depending on temperature, and the newly hatched nymphs will immediately seek out food if it is available.

FEEDING

Being nocturnal, bedbugs usually feed on their hosts at night without being noticed. They are attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide and body warmth. They target exposed skin, preferring the face, neck, and arms. Their mouthparts saw through skin and they inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers.

It takes between five and ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely engorged with blood. In all, the insect may spend less than 20 minutes in physical contact with its host. It does not try to feed again until it has either completed a molt or, if an adult, has thoroughly digested the meal.

BED BUG BITES

Human sensitivity to bites ranges from no reaction in 20% of cases to extreme allergic reaction. The bite usually produces swelling. When many bugs feed on a small area, reddish spots may appear once the swelling subsides. A line of bites may appear where several bed bugs have fed along the edge of a sheet or clothing lying next to the skin.

Regardless of the symptom that develops, there is nothing unique about bed bug bites that can be used for positive diagnosis. The detected presence of bed bugs is needed to determine if a reddish “bite” might be from bed bugs.

TREATMENT

Being nocturnal, bedbugs usually feed on their hosts at night without being noticed. They are attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide and body warmth. They target exposed skin, preferring the face, neck, and arms. Their mouthparts saw through skin and they inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers.

It takes between five and ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely engorged with blood. In all, the insect may spend less than 20 minutes in physical contact with its host. It does not try to feed again until it has either completed a molt or, if an adult, has thoroughly digested the meal.

WHY ARE BED BUGS DIFFICULT TO TREAT?

Human sensitivity to bites ranges from no reaction in 20% of cases to extreme allergic reaction. The bite usually produces swelling. When any bugs feed on a small area, reddish spots may appear once the swelling subsides. A line of bites may appear where several bed bugs have fed along the edge of a sheet or clothing lying next to the skin.

Regardless of the symptom that develops, there is nothing unique about bed bug bites that can be used for positive diagnosis. The detected presence of bed bugs is needed to determine if a reddish “bite” might be from bed bugs

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