Let’s kick off Bed Bug Awareness Week with the basics! Bed bugs (two words) are small, flat, brownish insects that are about the size of apple seeds as adults. Contrary to myth, you can see all stages of bed bugs, including the eggs, with your naked eye. They are what is known as obligatory parasites, meaning both males and females need a blood meal to grow and reproduce. Most people know that bed bugs feed on humans, but did you know they’ll also feed on other mammals, even chickens if they get desperate? Bed bugs are wingless, which means they can’t fly or jump and has enabled experts to come up with some pretty ingenious methods of control, which I’ll discuss later this week.
Bed bugs are primarily attracted to the CO2 we release when we breathe but can also detect our body heat as well as the odors on our skin. Bed bugs will orient themselves vertically, like crawling up the legs of beds, and research has shown they actually prefer the colors black and red.
Bed bug “bites” vary from person to person, many people don’t react at all while on others they appear as raised, red, itchy bumps similar to mosquito bites. The presence of a bed bug infestation can never be identified by bites alone! Look for other evidence such as bugs, eggs, cast skins (shed skins) and fecal spotting. Bed bugs only feed once every few days and in lab settings they’ve been seen to survive up to a year without food. In reality though they likely won’t starve themselves if there’s a meal in the next bed! I mean, would you starve yourself if there’s food in the kitchen? I know I wouldn’t!
Thanks for checking out my Bed Bug Basics blog and stay tuned for my upcoming blogs celebrating Bed Bug Awareness week! Don’t forget to follow me on social media – Like me on Facebook, Follow me on Instagram and Subscribe to my YouTube series “Insects and the City!”
- Sarah Latyn