Every time you turn around, it seems like another hotel chain has been stricken with a bed bug problem. These tiny little bugs can cause surprisingly huge problems for commercial and residential properties alike. Every hotel dreads finding bed bugs in their hotel suites and every person with an apartment or house feels exactly the same way.
What is it about bed bugs that strike fear into the hearts of most of us? It’s not that these insects transmit disease like other bugs—such as ticks (Lyme disease) or mosquitoes (West Nile and malaria). It’s just that they are very good at creating havoc with one of your most fundamental needs: shelter.
Bed bugs, also known as cimex lectularius, will feed off your blood. They don’t need much, but they will bite your skin to get what they require to survive. Bed bugs also like dark places. Combine these two traits and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Imagine heading to bed after a long day. You’re very tired and looking forward to hitting the sack. You snuggle into your blankets and pillows, but then you notice you’re not alone: there are bed bugs in your bed. Strangely, you might not feel the bite of a bed bug—bed bugs inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that can stop you from realizing you’ve been bitten.
Eventually, however, you’ll start scratching at the offending area and try to resume sleeping. But then you are bitten again and again and again—you can feel the bugs crawling all over you. Before long you are driven from your bed. You try sleeping on the couch, thinking that if you sleep in a different room, you’ll get rid of them. However, bed bugs are attracted to warmth and body heat and soon enough they find you. And even if you don’t get bitten by bed bugs, you still can’t wash away the feeling of little bugs crawling around your bed. It’s either you or the bed bugs—because the two of you are not going to be able to coexist together.
Let’s take a closer look at your foe. Cimex lectularius is small by bug standards—a cockroach is about three times the size of a bed bug. Bed bugs are nocturnal and will only feed at night on the blood of animals or humans. Bed bugs are also incredibly resilient—they can survive up to three months without a meal. You can find these insects anywhere, whether it’s a five star hotel or the cleanest and most sanitary house on the block.
Getting rid of bed bugs, not surprisingly, is a huge challenge. They can burrow into the tiniest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time. They can jump into bags and clothing and hitch a ride with you when you leave your home. For this reason, bed bugs can take a surprising toll on your social life. Friends and family may find excuses not to visit (or not to have you visit!).
If you discover you have bed bugs, the best health advice is to get help from a pest control company. You want to make sure that you wash every single item of clothing you have, along with your bed sheets, pillow cases, blankets, and duvet covers.
Rest assured you won’t come down with any disease, but you still want to exterminate the bed bugs to make sure that you “don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Until you do, it’s likely you won’t be getting much sleep.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
“Parasites: Bed Bugs,” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website; http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html, last accessed May 28, 2013.
“Bed Bugs,” Toronto Public Health website; http://www.toronto.ca/health/bedbugs/, last accessed May 28, 2013.