Bed bugs are blood-feeding insects that have become a major problem in cities across the world, more commonly in urban locations. They have existed for thousands of years, and date back to ancient Roman and Egyptian times. If you’ve ever dealt with bed bugs, you understand the total nightmare they create in a household. This is part 1 of a 3-part series that goes over bed bug history, anatomy, and their behaviors that make them so easily transferred from home to home.
Understanding Bed Bug Anatomy
Before understanding the bed bug extermination process, and the value in choosing the right exterminator for bed bugs, let’s first talk about the anatomy of bed bugs. Bed bugs are nocturnal, blood-feeding insects, that are transferred easily due to their highly reproductive nature. Bed bugs bite humans to feed, usually leaving a reaction from very mild to large blisters.
They range in size between 1-7mm; and their color varies depending on their stage in the life cycle, but they are typically reddish-brown. Infant bed bugs, called nymphs, are typically more translucent and reddish, whereas mature bed bugs appear more brown in color. Their bodies are flat and oval, with distinctive lines across their body.
Behavior and Reproduction
Bed bugs feed on human blood and can live up to a year without a meal. Their mouths have parts that help them break through the skin, and they inject their saliva into the host. The severity of the reaction depends on the individual. Bed bugs reproduce quickly, and lay eggs as they travel. Spreading of bed bugs is rarely caused by a hygiene concern, but due to their quick reproductive nature. They can live over 6 months without a blood meal, often leaving new homeowners surprised to find out that they have an infestation.
Bed Bug History
Bed bugs can be dated back to ancient Rome and Asia. They became a widespread problem during the 1500’s in Europe, and had traveled by boat to America by the 1800’s. Shortly before this time, the term “don’t let the bed bugs bite”, became a common phrase in homes, due to the widespread problem they had become. During the turn of the 20th century, with the rise of pesticides, bed bugs were almost all but eradicated from homes. They became prevalent again during the 1990’s, causing problems in hotels and multi-unit buildings. A large part of their resurgence can be credited, in part, to the increase in travel, as well as the increase in shared housing in urban areas.
Before understanding what kills bed bugs and their eggs, it’s important to understand how bed bugs are transferred. Due to their nature of hiding in dark spots and laying eggs as they travel from space to space, they are easy to transfer by bags, clothes, or furniture. Common ways bed bugs are transferred is by staying at hotels, living in shared housing, and house guests who have bed bugs coming to your home.
Treating and Preventing Bed Bugs
Part 2 of 3 in our Escaping Bed Bugs series will explore treatment methods for bed bugs, and ways to minimize your risk of them entering your home. We post bi-weekly on our blog, so come back in a couple weeks for more about bed bugs!