What to do if you have them, how to check, how to prevent it

bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep.

They are very good at hiding, and their slender, flat bodies allow them to fit into tiny spaces and stay there for long periods of time. According to studies, they can go anywhere from 20 to 400 days without food, depending on the temperature and humidity.

Bed bugs are not a sign of a dirty home or poor personal hygiene. Bed bugs travel to new places by hiding in furniture, suitcases, or other objects that are moved. They are not known to spread disease but can be a nuisance as they can cause itching and trouble sleeping.

Read: 4 Michigan cities were among the worst for bed bugs in 2022

The life cycle of a bed bug

Bed bug life cycle. (CDC)

Adults and all nymphal stages of bed bugs must feed on the blood of warm-blooded hosts. They prefer humans but may use other mammals and birds when humans are not around.

Females lay about five eggs a day throughout their adult lives in places like mattress seams, crevices in box springs, gaps under baseboards, and more. The eggs hatch in about 4-12 days into first-instar nymphs, which must feed on blood before molting to the next stage.

The bugs are subjected five nymph stages, each requiring them to feed on blood before molting to the next stage. After the sixth stage, they molt into an adult.

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Nymphs resemble smaller versions of adults. Nymphs and adults require about five to ten minutes to obtain a whole blood meal. Adults can take multiple blood meals over a period of several weeks.

Mating occurs outside the host and involves “traumatic insemination,” in which the male uses his external genitalia to penetrate the female’s abdominal wall and inseminate into her body cavity. Adults live six to 12 months and can survive without food for long periods of time.

How to look for bed bugs

Signs of a bed bug infestation include: finding small wingless bugs in cracks and crevices around the bed, seeing small stains of blood or bed bug feces on bedding, or finding bed bug eggs or skins.

Many people who have been bitten by a bed bug see itchy welts similar to a mosquito bite. Bite reactions vary from person to person and some people do not react at all. Bed bug bites have not been found to transmit disease.

The only way to know for sure if you have bed bugs is to find a live bed bug in your home. You can’t tell from the bites. If you suspect you have bed bugs, you should examine your bed or sleeping area. You can also contact a pest controller to do an inspection for you.

The bite marks usually appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, or other parts of the body, and people get bitten while they sleep. In some people, bites can take up to 14 days to develop, so you should look for other clues.

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When a bed bug bites, it injects an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from knowing they have been bitten. The bite marks can be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms include insomnia, anxiety and skin problems. You should avoid scratching the bite site and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine.

Signs of a bed bug infestation include the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting, bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, rust-colored blood stains from their blood-filled fecal material that they shed on the mattress or near furniture, and a sweet, musty smell.

Not all bugs you find in your bedroom are bed bugs, you should consult a professional to be on the safe side.

Do Bed Bugs Spread Disease?

no Bed bugs are not known to spread disease.

Can you prevent a bed bug infestation?

There are steps you can take when traveling or buying used furniture to prevent bed bug infestations.

Officials said you should avoid picking up used mattresses or used upholstered furniture as it is difficult to tell if they contain bed bugs. Other used furniture should be carefully inspected and cleaned before bringing it home.

You should scrub the furniture with soapy water or a household cleaner to remove bed bugs or their eggs. Used clothing should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and emptied directly into the washing machine. Wash clothes in hot water and tumble dry on high to kill bed bugs and their eggs.

When visiting hotels, you should check the room for signs of bed bugs before unpacking your bags.

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Bed bugs hide in the ribs of a mattress corner. (CDC)

How do you treat a bed bug infestation?

Fighting a bed bug infestation is not easy.

You’ll need to act quickly and likely call in an experienced pest controller. The professional uses several methods, either individually or in combination, to kill the bed bugs.

Bug bombs are not effective at killing bed bugs. Many “all natural” sprays are also not effective at combating bed bedding. Officials do not recommend using rubbing alcohol to treat a home for bed bugs, it’s not very effective, but it’s very flammable.

Read: Pontiac woman sets herself on fire trying to set fire to her car because it contained bed bugs

For more information on how to treat a bed bug infestation, see the PDF below. (Can’t see the PDF? click here.)

Additional resources from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

Copyright 2022 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

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