Bed Bugs (or Cimicidae) are small parasitic insects. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. A number of health effects may occur due to bed bugs, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. Diagnosis involves both finding bed bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Treatment is otherwise symptomatic.
The name “bed bug” is derived from the insect’s preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bed bugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts.
So are they really just found in beds?
By virtue of its name, people always think bedbugs are found only in beds when, in fact, they fit anywhere their bodies can be hidden and they are as thin as a sheet of paper. They are found in all kinds of furniture, electric appliances, clock radios, computers, printers, behind pictures, books and, of course, bookcases. They are found in cracks and crevices in the wall and within walls as well as in electric outlets, wiring, pipes, plastic and metal conduits. Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places.
When do bed bugs bite?
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed. Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do. People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Signs of Infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, especially if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands