Bed bugs cost households and organizations billions every year to exterminate but they are not going anywhere because the statistic remains one in every five households has to deal with the bugs every year. Offices, hotels and public transport are not spared from bed bugs either. It is therefore fair to say that bed bugs are one of the world’s worst epidemics that is not going away any time soon. These blood suckers have been around since the prehistoric periods and somehow manage to crawl into every narrow space they are not allowed in. So, what is it about bed bugs that allow them to cross both streets and oceans to get into your bedroom? If you have ever wondered anything about bed bugs these ten facts should cover it…
They can stay dormant for 14 months
If you thought moving out of your home for a few months will eliminate your bed bug infestation, then you are in for a shock. Those insects can last over one year without starving. They go into a dormant state when there is no food around and just stay alive with little feeding until they find a victim to suck. Some experiments have found bed bugs alive for up to 18 months in that dormant state which means they are a patient nightmare that just won’t go away probably unless you burn your home down.
They have been a problem since we were Neanderthals
Bed bugs haven’t evolved much in the millions of years that humans have evolved from dwelling in caves to comfortable houses. Bed bugs developed a taste for human blood while our prehistoric ancestors lived in caves. The bugs drank blood from the Neanderthals and bats in the caves and when the ancestors left the caves, the bugs somehow found their way into the house. They have effectively evolved into better bloodsuckers than mosquitoes as they make sure they don’t wake you or kill you with disease while drinking your blood.
They can track down your blood vessels
Bed bugs are real creeps when it comes to stalking human beings. They know that human dwellings are warm and safe and they can come into your home through the tiniest of crevices, even the ones you don’t think about. When they get to the house, they track humans down by sensing the carbon dioxide we exhale and that is how they find their way onto your bed. The bugs then wait for you to go into a deep sleep and then sneak on you. They use heat sensors on their antennae to track down your blood vessels and locate the juiciest spots under your skin where they can get the most blood.
They prevent your blood vessels from clotting
Platelets in your plasma act to close off small cuts to your blood vessels quickly and that would prevent bed bugs from drinking their fill. When they bite you and start sucking, they also deposit an anticoagulant at the entrance into your blood vessels which ensures that the taps keep flowing as long as they are still drinking. This allows the bugs to have their fill while drinking from a single hole reducing their chances of causing more disturbance that might wake you up.
They inject you with anaesthetic while sucking
Ever wondered why you never catch bed bugs red-handed? Well, they have another weapon down their bellies that ensures you don’t wake up while they are feeding. They have an anaesthetic that they inject at the spot where they pierce which ensures that you don’t wake up the whole time they are on your body. This makes them a deadly pest that can suck you dry and you just can’t help yourself.
They have developed resistance to most pesticides
DDT was the one chemical that seemed to exterminate all bugs in the 1930s until it was realized that the chemical was causing mass extinctions of birds and other species. The chemical targeted the nervous system of insects and killed them even if they walked on sprayed surfaces months after DDT was applied. However, by the 1940s, bed bugs developed a mutation that made them resistant to the chemical. It has been discovered that the mutation protects them from pyrethroids and other pesticides that target the nervous system just like DDT did.
Spraying alone is never enough to finish an infestation
If there is one bug that can literally chase you out of your home; then it is the bed bug. Many homeowners rely on spraying using over-the-counter aerosol cans. The problem is that most of these cans have pyrethroid or pyrethrin-based pesticides to which the bugs are resistant. Sprays also dry out on the areas you can access and don’t reach the hidden layers where the majority of the pests live. You have to use a combination of methods to exterminate bed bugs including using dust, covering beddings and cardboard furniture in plastic bags and closing up cracks in walls where these things may hide. It is advisable to call in a professional once you notice a bed bug infestation in your home.
They can give you anaemia through a single night of biting
A single bedroom could be infested with thousands of bed bugs and many homeowners don’t notice until the infestation is out of hand. Now, while they don’t spread any communicable diseases, bed bugs cause painful rashes that may result in skin infections. If you are sucked on by a whole colony on a single night, you might become anaemic because they really do suck you dry. A single bed bug will come out flat when hungry and leave you three times larger than it was because they drink up to three times their body weight in one sitting.
Bed bugs don’t exactly target dirty bedrooms
Bed bugs are an embarrassment that no one ever wants to admit because they are considered filthy pests that only attack dirty homes. That is not always the case though. Even the cleanest hotel room or bedroom could be infested with bugs because they have the ability to crawl into anything. With many people travelling and sharing spaces, the bugs tend to travel through luggage, clothing, poultry and other human belongings and that means they can be left behind anywhere accessed by human beings. You therefore shouldn’t be so harsh on a hotel that has those little guys because they probably had no idea that they were there in the first place.
They can be stopped by bean leaves
While most human methods of killing bed bugs no longer work, beans learned to incapacitate the insects long before humans got it right. Many ancient communities including the Mayans discovered the effectiveness of the leaves in controlling the pest. When a bed bug walks across a bean leaf, it gets stuck in a series of hooks that pierce through its soft legs making it impossible for the bugs to move until they die. The hooks are a defence mechanism developed by most natural legumes to kill crawling insects that could destroy their leaves and flowers.
Do you know any other facts about bed bugs that are worth knowing? Do let us know in the comments below.