What Should I Know About Bed Bugs?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Bed bugs are tiny insects that live off the blood of human beings. Properly identified as cimex lectularius, bed bugs are wingless creatures with a body that is somewhat flat and oval in shape. Adult bed bugs are normally a reddish-brown hue and are small enough to appear to be nothing more than a blemish in the surface of the skin. While some people think that bed bugs are too small to see with the naked eye, that is not the case.

Vacuuming the top and bottom of a mattress can help to eliminate bedbugs.
Vacuuming the top and bottom of a mattress can help to eliminate bedbugs.

A bed bug tends to feed off the human host in the early hours just before daybreak. This is usually attributed to the fact that bed bugs do not function well in direct light. It is possible for the bugs to feed during the day, however, especially if there is no direct sunlight present.

The process used by bed bugs to feast is two-fold in nature. The bug will pierce through the top layer of skin with two hollow tubes. One of the tubes functions as the feeding tube for the bug, while the other pumps saliva into the skin of the host. The saliva contains elements to prevent clotting of the blood during the feasting time and also natural anesthetics that minimize the chances of the host noticing the presence of the bug until after the feeding has completed. For the most part, bed bugs will feed for roughly five minutes before withdrawing from the host and returning to a concealed spot on the bedding or the bed frame.

At some point after the feeding is completed, the area around the bite will begin to sting and possibly also become red and irritated. Some people may experience pain from the bed bug bites in as little as a few moments after the feasting session, while others may not begin to notice itchiness and irritation until hours later. In any case, the sensation is usually strong enough to cause discomfort for the human host.

The presence of bed bugs in the home should not be viewed as a sign the house is dirty. Unlike roaches and other infestations, bed bugs do not feed on dirt or waste; they only feed on blood. It is important to remember that the bed bugs were probably transported to the home after being encountered at some other location. Bed bugs are attracted by the warmth of the human body and the carbon dioxide present around the skin. The bugs can easily hide on clothing and later transfer themselves to the sheets where they may live for a year or more.

Ridding the home of bed bugs is somewhat similar to the process for ridding the home of lice. All bedding should be removed and washed in hot water. Vacuuming floors, carpeting, and window treatments will also help minimize the degree of infestation. The mattress, box springs, and the bed frame should be sprayed with rubbing alcohol in order to kill bedbugs. Be sure to wipe down the frame using hot water followed by a dry cloth in order to prevent the rubbing alcohol from damaging the wood or metal of the bed frame.

It can be extremely difficult to rid your home of bed bugs. In cases of severe infestation, extermination by a professional will likely be required. Ridding your home of bed bugs will not only prevent you from being bitten, but also help prevent you from spreading them to other locations.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Just dealt with a case of the B.B's yesterday. The least expensive treatments I can think of is remove/wash all bedding and other loose washables. Take affected mattress and box spring outside into direct sunlight and leave out as long as you can. That gets them aggravated. Spray with Ant/Roach spray or Flea spray. The alcohol spray works well too. As well spray along base boards and all other nooks and crannies. Their flat bodies can get anywhere. Vaccuum carpets thoroughly. Start with a standard vac. then use a wet/dry vac., they provide more suction than standard vaccuum cleaners. Go over every square foot of carpet as well as baseboards and doorjambs. Repeat treatments will probably be necessary, but you will gain the upper hand with the initial treatment. A good hair dryer also helps as the little monsters don't like the heat. Kills them actually.


Many years ago we had bed bugs in our bed. I had read that if you can raise the temperature of the room to over 105 degrees for 24 hours they will die. We brought 3 electric heaters in the room turned the theromostat up to has high as we could get it - closed off the room and believe or not --we got rid of the bed bugs!!!!!!


Excllent and very useful information about the bed bugs and its behavior to the human being. Thanks a lot for the information and keep going this practice in future to deliver as much knowledge as you can.


Please, please, add that is it absolutely necessary to call a pest control company that knows how to deal with bed bugs in. your information is true to a degree but inaccurate regarding the treatment. trust me it is not this simple. take it from someone who knows, we had them at work and we are up to $7000.00 in the treatment cost alone, not including furniture we have yet to replace.


I've had bed bugs once. In the old days (50 or more years ago) it was common to rent apartments already furnished. This seems rare now. Anyhow, I took the mattress outside and sprayed it with something, and left that apartment quickly.

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