What are bed bugs? Bed bugs are very small, reddish-brown insects about the size of an apple seed that rely on the blood of humans and animals to survive. Their numbers have risen in recent years, as now bed bug infestations have been reported in all 50 of the United States.
Bed bugs get their name from primarily feeding on humans while they’re asleep, which often leads to infestations of mattresses, box springs, and bed sheets. Just like most creatures, they stick close to their food source.
If you have a bed bug problem, you can look in cracks in nearby furniture, any seams in fabric, or even crevices in walls or wallpaper where they can hide. Bed bugs are about the width of a credit card, so they can hide even in the smallest of spaces. Adult bed bugs grow to just around 4-5 millimeters in length and 1.5-3 millimeters in width. Nymphs (juveniles) can be as small as 1.5 millimeter in length.
How Can You Locate A Bed Bug Infestation?
Since bed bugs often go unnoticed, one of the signs that you have an infestation is by the brown or rust-colored spots on sheets left behind by the bugs’ excrement when they’re crushed. The only confirmation for an infestation is to find an actual bed bug, though.
Some areas where bed bugs are most likely to be found are:
- Box springs
- Bed frames
- Carpet edges
- Inside dressers
- Cracks and crevices in wallpaper
- Upholstered furniture
Bed bugs don’t have nests, but they typically stick together in the same hiding spaces.
The Life Of A Bed Bug
Females lay about five eggs daily during their adult lives, often within the refuge of mattress seems, furniture, or other areas where they can remain undisturbed. The eggs are no larger than a speck of dust and usually hatch in about a week, depending on the temperature.
So exactly what are bed bugs?
The nymphs are then born in their first stage of development. There are five molting stages before bed bugs reach adulthood, and they must ingest a full blood meal before moving on to the next stage. Bed bugs thrive on temperatures around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why they prefer sharing living areas with humans.
Bed bugs typically need just 5-10 minutes for a full blood meal. While the nymphs require just one meal per molting period, adults may consume several meals during the course of several weeks if a host is available. Though bed bugs prefer humans, they’ll settle for any warm-blooded animal, such as dogs, cats, or even birds.
Adult bed bugs can live for six months to a year, and they can survive for extended periods of time without feeding. Just because you haven’t seen a bed bug in a while doesn’t mean they’re completely gone, especially if you haven’t gone through the necessary steps to get rid of them.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bug infestation rates had steadily dropped starting in the 1930s before an infestation resurgence 50 years later.
Experts attribute the growing rate of infestations (71 percent increase in bed bug reports between 2000-2005) to the increase of international travel, a built-up resistance to insecticides, and pest control that no longer effectively targets bed bugs.
With frequent foreign travel and immigration from the developing world, as well as an increased international market of furniture, clothing, and other popular hideouts, bed bugs may have simply hitched a ride.
As fast as they multiply – female bed bugs can be responsible for laying the eggs of an entire infestation – it didn’t take long for them to become a widespread nuisance.
Some cities with the most reported cases of bed bug infestations include:
- Columbus, Ohio
- Los Angeles
- Cleveland/Akron/Canton, Ohio
- Dallas/Ft. Worth
- Richmond/Petersburg, VA
- Dayton, Ohio
The question about what are bed bugs is pretty simple however the solution is quite more complex. One of the more alarming things about bed bugs is that they can be found almost anywhere. A common myth says that bed bugs are attracted to cluttered, dirty areas, but that’s not true. Rich and poor people alike have reported infestations of bed bugs. Unsanitary conditions will not increase the likelihood of bed bugs infestations, but reducing clutter will certainly limit the areas where they can live and hide.
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