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Bed bugs are insects from the Cimex family and are commonly found in various parts of the world, especially the United States.
While this insect will gladly feed on blood from any mammal, they particularly love to feed on humans, during the night. This is one of the reasons why so many people wake up with small bites and itchy rashes in the morning.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest. However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs have small and flat torsos, brownish color, and small legs with microscopic hairs on them. They might look harmless and fragile but in reality, they are very resilient and resourceful pests that multiply fast.
The flat body of the bed bug allows them to hide even in the smallest crevices and holes in the wall, and some even occupy the mattress to be closer to the food source.
This pest will use any surface to climb into the bed or hide during the day. Their small size makes it even harder to notice with the naked eye, and it’s one of the main culprits why some infestations get out of control.
Life Cycle of Bed Bugs
Female bed bugs can lay multiple eggs per day and up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. The eggs hatch within two weeks and then within four to six weeks, bed bugs mature to adult stage. During this process, they will go through numerous molts. With each molt, they will change in both size and color. They will start clear/white, before turning yellow/tan on the way to the reddish/brown of adults. If not caught and treated early, a few bed bugs can turn into a massive infestation within a couple of months.
A mature bed bug will typically feed weekly but can last up to a year with no food. The life span of a bed bug commonly ranges from four months to a year, depending on temperatures and conditions within its environment.
How to Tell if You Have a Bed Bug Infestation?
While bed bugs are small and hardly noticeable, they leave their mark on the territory. Most of the time people suspect an infestation after waking up with flared-up and itchy bite marks, but there are a few other signs that can indicate bed bugs’ presence.
A few common indicators that you might have bed bugs in your home include:
In addition to quick reproductive capabilities, experts attribute the rise in bed bug prevalence over the last decade to their increased resistance to pesticides and the increase in commercial travel.
Common Treatments to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
There are multiple methods for controlling and eliminating bed bug infestations. However, unfortunately, there is no quick fix for eradication. Both chemical and non-chemical approaches are available. A combination of approaches is often referred to as “integrated pest management” and is advised by most pest control professionals.
Non-chemical approaches include: drying bedding and clothing at high temperatures, single room or full home heat treatments, mattress and box spring encasements, and monitoring devices such as bed bug interceptors.
There are currently over 300 chemical products registered with the EPA for treatment against bed bugs, including both sprays and powders. Before using these pesticides in your home, it is always important to consult pest control professionals to ensure safe and optimal application and results.