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.
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.