What are Bed Bugs? Though their name might suggest that they are bugs, bed begs are in reality insects, and belong to the cimicidae family. They feed on the blood of birds and mammals. Though there are many species of these bugs, the ones that infest humans are cimex hemipterus and cimex leclutarius. Though their growth had been contained a few years back, these bugs have formed a resistance to the pesticides used to kill them and are growing at an alarming rate of 500% per annum.
It is not just small towns and villages
- It is not just small towns and villages that are suffering from their onslaught, even big cities of developed countries are facing their wrath.
- These oval shaped and flat bed bugs are deep reddish brown in hue and the adult ones measure approx .4 to .5 centimeters in length.
- They tend to hide in small crevices and cracks during the daytime and venture out at night to feed on the blood of birds and mammals, locating their target by the warmth of its body.
- The anticoagulants and anesthetics contained in their saliva is injected into their victim’s skin and it is due to this that the victims do not feel any initial pain or burning sensation.
Bed bug’s bite is swelling of the affected area
- The typical after effects of a bed bug’s bite is swelling of the affected area along with an acute itching sensation.
- The bed bug derives its name from its natural habitat, the bed. It can also be found in cracks and crevasses of walls and cupboards, in old wooden furniture and also in clothes.
- The newly hatched bed bugs (technically known as nymphs) are lighter in color than their adult counterparts and are also translucent.
- Their color changes to reddish brown on reaching maturity. The peak feeding periods of these bugs are during the night, generally an hour before dawn.
During the blood feeding process
- However, if they are provided the opportunity, they may feed at other times of the day too.
- During the blood feeding process, the bed bug pierces the skin of its victim with 2 hollow tubes contained in a stylet in its hinged beak.
- One of them is used to inject its saliva that contains anesthetics and anticoagulants and the other tube is used to withdraw blood.
- The body of the bed bug swells up with the blood it feeds on and turns more to a bubble shape from its normal flat shape after it has completed sucking blood.
The injected anesthetics and anticoagulants
- It is due to the injected anesthetics and anticoagulants that the hosts do not feel any sensation and it takes quite some time before an itching sensation is felt on the affected area.
- Though the itching sensation caused by the bites of bed bugs might feel the same like that caused by mosquito bites, the itching sensation is far more severe and lasts for much longer.
- People often think that they can ward off bed bugs by keeping the lights turned on, this is a myth.
- However, it is not just the heat of the human body that attracts these blood sucking insects.
- They are also attracted by the carbon dioxide exhaled by humans and other mammals.