Seemingly out of no where, bed bugs reports have become commonplace. How much do you know about them? Here’s the low-down on these pests on the rise.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like and How Can I Spot Them?
Bed bugs have an oval-shaped, flat body about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, often more red than brown if they have recently had a blood meal. Young bed bugs are usually lighter in color.
When bed bugs bite, they leave little marks on your skin that will itch and burn for a few days afterwards. Smudges of blood on your bed linens are also a common sign of their presence.
Bed Bugs Live in Beds, Right?
Bed bugs do live in beds, usually hiding in the seams of the mattress or in folds of the sheets and blankets. But they also live in carpets, in window curtains, behind wallpaper, in baseboards and in crevices of furniture. While bed bugs come to the bed to feed, they often live around the bed rather than in it.
Because bed bugs migrate away from the host after feeding, they can hitch a ride on anything—clothing, luggage, etc,—in their path and travel with you to your next destination. In this way, bed bug infestations are spreading in numbers in hotels and motels around the world. While staying in a hotel, don’t let clothing or luggage contact the bed, furniture or floor. Instead, hang clothes in the closet and store your suitcase on the rack above your clothes.
Bed bugs can also hide in the seams or folds of the clothes you are wearing. The cuffs of trousers and shirts are excellent hiding places. They’re tiny enough to go unnoticed, can venture out for a blood meal when they’re hungry, then drop off of your clothing. Using tactics like these, bed bugs are becoming increasingly persistent in areas outside of the bedroom, like office spaces and classrooms.
When do Bed Bugs Bite?
Anyone who has heard the nursery rhyme knows that bed bugs bite at night, but few realize that bed bugs can bite at any time of day if they’re hungry and a meal is close by. Night time is ideal for bed bugs because they’re nocturnal and the darkness is safer to move in, and, perhaps more importantly, because it’s easier to feed as we sleep.
Do Bed Bugs Transmit Disease?
Bed bugs carry diseases—about 24 identifiable pathogens, according to the World Health Organization—but do not transmit diseases. To prevent a bed bug bite from becoming infected, wash it with soap and use an anti-itch cream to reduce the urge to scratch. If the bite becomes infected, you may need to seek medical attention.