Everything You Wanted To Know About A Bloodsucking Bed Bug
Despite not knowing what one looks like more and more people are becoming fearful of the common bed bug (scientific name: cimex lectularius). It has only been within the last 15-20 years that bed bugs have become a problem in the United States. The main culprit as to why we are now dealing with bed bugs is due to traveling. It is also how you can end up with this creature inside of your home. While they will not spread any diseases they will cause a lack of sleep, massive itchiness, potential skin infections, and definitely a loss of money. This blood-sucking pest is one you need to know how to spot in order to keep you and your family safe.
Knowing how to correctly identify a bed bug in each stage of its lifecycle is the first step to preventing an infestation.
Adult Bed Bugs
- Roughly the size of an apple seed (3/16 to 1/4 inch long)
- Flat, oval-shaped bodies when they haven’t fed, balloon-like if they have fed recently
- Reddish-brown in color
- True Bug
- Smell (They produce a musty-sweetish odor through glands on the lower side of their bodies)
- Can be seen with the naked eye (but it can still be difficult to spot them)
On average, adult bed bugs feed every 3-10 days. It only takes 5-10 minutes for them to get their fill of blood and abruptly leave the metaphorical table to go reproduce. (Seriously. In order to reproduce they must have a blood meal in their system.) Female bed bugs can lay 3-5 eggs per day and it’s estimated that she will lay anywhere from 200-500 eggs within her lifetime.
Nymphs (Baby And Young Bed Bugs)
- Translucent or whiteish-yellow in color
- Virtually invisible to humans unless they have just fed
Nymphs go through five stages of development ranging from newborn to teenager. The first objective of a freshly hatched infant is to find a blood meal. Without feeding regularly a nymph can’t mature into adulthood. The bizarre thing is that they can survive months without eating. A young bed bug will literally be stuck in whatever level of development they are currently in until they feast again.
Bed Bug Eggs
- About the size of a pinhead
- White color, with an eye spot after five days
- Can be seen with the naked eye, but difficult to find
FROM EGG TO ADULT
Most bed bugs go from egg to adult in the span of one to four months. How rapidly they grow is dependent upon temperature and how available a blood host is. The warmer it is outside the more likely a bed bug is to mature into adulthood quicker due to having a wider range in food sources. As the temperature drops bed bugs, like most animals, go into a sort of hibernation which allows them to survive much longer. Their growth will be stunted until they feed again, but the likelihood that they will die is significantly reduced. An adult has the ability to survive up to 18 months without feeding. However, most bed bugs tend to live around half a year.
Average Life Cycle Of A Common Bed Bug
- First Instar Nymph
- Second Instar Nymph
- Third Instar Nymph
- Fourth Instar Nymph
- Fifth Instar Nymph
In order to grow from one stage to the next a nymph must feed then molt. Without going though this ritual a young bed bug cannot reach adulthood.
BUT WHERE DO BED BUGS COME FROM?
A clean home does not mean you are guaranteed a happy home. Bed bugs are not picky when it comes to the cleanliness of their environment, nor are they fussy about choosing who to go home with. A bed bug infestation can happen to ANYONE. Adopt these simple habits to protect what matters most to you next time you’re out and about. (Or you could just live in a bubble, but where’s the fun in that?)
- Inspect your hotel room before bringing in any personal items and luggage. (Store luggage in the shower or bathroom to help keep bed bugs out of it if your room does happen to have the occasional bug hanging around.)
- Be aware of your surroundings on public transportation. Threats come in all sizes.
- Throughly clean bedding after houseguests leave with the hottest settings possible. (We know your friends would never intentionally bring bed bugs over. Stuff happens.)
- Be wary of second-hand furniture and inspect it closely. (It’s cool to save money and/or recycle, but bed bugs love to gravitate towards these types of items.)
- Always be mindful regardless of where you are. Bed bugs don’t discriminate.
It is unlikely that a bed bug will travel from place to place with you personally. You move too much for them.
HOW TO GET RID OF BED BUGS
Once bed bugs are in your belongings they are almost certainly going to re-home in your home. Some of the most common methods for getting rid of bed bugs include heat treatment, chemical sprays, Diatomaceous Earth, vacuuming, and tea tree oil. All of these methods will work, but only to a degree. The absolute best way to prevent bed bugs from wrecking havoc on your home is to contact a professional pest control specialist to completely and totally remove any bed bugs around the house.
Why lie? Heat treating your home is expensive and we don’t just mean that the process itself costs a lot. Room temperatures need to reach at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit before it can even be lethal to bed bugs. While it will almost undoubtedly kill any critters you have lurking inside your home (after a couple of treatments) it will also kill everything else by melting your possessions into oblivion.
Pesticides will kill some bed bugs, but there is no guarantee that a chemical spray will kill off every single bed bug in your home. First, they must come into contact with the treatment. Considering that bed bugs are masters at hiding in cracks and crevices chances are that you will never succeed at getting all of them to come into contact with a spray. Additionally, not all insecticides are created equal. Some are harmful to you and your family, some aren’t. Is it really worth the risk?
The safest method of pest control on our list, Diatomaceous Earth works by compromising the exoskeleton of any bug that comes into contact with it. Mammals are safe from the effects and in fact we even eat it on a day-to-day basis!
Yes, you should still keep your home clean. We would never promote living in filth. However, bed bugs are resilient pests and vacuuming alone will not get rid of them.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil as a form of bed bug management is sort of a myth at best and a safety hazard at its worst. It will only kill bed bugs when in its undiluted form. Note that using undiluted essential oils is a huge safety hazard to both you and your pets. If you are going to use essential oils for pest control it is critical that you dilute them with water.
THE BEST PEST CONTROL SOLUTION
Hiring a professional pest control company is the only way to effectively get rid of bed bugs in Middle Tennessee. U.S. Pest Protection will safely remove any and all bed bugs from your home with a three-pronged approach of liquid, dust, and aerosol treatment. Additionally, we offer monthly re-treatment services for as long as you wish to be a member of our bed bug rider. We’ll be with you until the (not-so) bloody end.
Bed bugs are defiant creatures. That’s why we offer a protection plan. Ensure your family’s well-being with U.S. Pest Protection!