Bed bugs are one of the most serious household pests and occasional invaders. These bugs are a quarter to a half inch long and are a rusty red or mahogany color. They are also flat but oval in shape, and do not have wings. They are similar in size to springtails, but are much harder to squash due to their body shape.
Their flat bodies also allow them to fit in very small, confined spaces. Bed bugs are active mainly at night, with the majority of their activity in the hours just before sunrise. As a result, during the day, they often hide in small crevices in or near areas where people sleep, including mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards.
Bed bugs typically live for around 10 months. In these months female bed bugs can lay more than 200 eggs! The female usually only deposit 3 to 8 eggs at a time, though. These eggs are very small, white in color, and take around a week to hatch. The newly hatched bed bug, known as a nymph, is straw-colored or colorless. However, it changes color to red or purple after consuming its first meal.
Their feeding habits are actually the main reason why bed bugs are such a problematic household invader: they feed on humans. Ordinarily, the newly hatched bed bugs feed within 24 hours of hatching, with feeding taking up to 10 minutes to complete. They feed by inserting two hollow, beak-like feeding tubes. Similar to mosquitos, the first feeding tube injects the bug’s saliva, which contains anesthetics that numb the area. Bed bugs consume two to five times their own body weight in blood during that time. These bed bug bite itself is painless, and typically not felt by humans. Nor does the amount of blood loss due to their feeding cause any adverse effects. However, the wound from the bite, like mosquito bites, usually becomes irritated, red, and itchy. These bites also appear in a line.
Bed bug control isn’t easy. To read more on our best tips for successful bed bug control, click here.
Did You Know?
A bed bug can live several months without a meal!
Tips for Travelers on Vacation
Store all clothing inside sealed clear plastic bags.
Check your room before you unpacking! Hot spots include behind decor, underneath sheets and wooden furniture, and in the carpet.
When possible, store suitcases in the bathroom. Bed bugs don’t typically reside in bathroom areas.
Don’t leave dirty clothes on the floor. Bed bugs are actually attracted to human odors!
Purchase a travel-size bed bug spray that can kill and repel the bugs. These can be effective, but shouldn’t be considered the only solution.
Bed bug monitors can also be purchased. Place these items around the foot of the bed, or near the wall under the bed. These can be a great way to evaluate any bed bug activity.
Use hairdryers! Bed bugs cannot handle head, so take a hairdryer and blow hot air around the areas most likely to be infested. The headboard on your bed is a prime hiding spot for bed bugs, along with decor, carpet corners, and footings.
When you arrive home, put your luggage in a spot such as the garage before unloading your clothes.
Wash all clothes and dry them on a high heat setting for at least 25 minutes. This includes clean clothes!
Don’t travel! All joking aside, bed bugs can strike anywhere, from the cheapest hotel to the most expensive. Paying a higher price doesn’t always guarantee a bed bug-free room.