By Allen Bryan
Many of us have had our parents say, “Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Though this is just an old saying, bed bugs really can come when you are sleeping for a late night snack. These insects live everywhere from floorboards, cracks, and clothing to luggage and beds. Many of them are bloodsucking pests. One of the most common and infamous ones are bed bugs. Everyone has heard of them, but no one really knows what they are. Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Though they are everywhere, it is easy to prevent them from biting you.
Bedbugs cannot fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bed bugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which the size of a speck of dust, in their lifetime. Immature bed bugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions, the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year. Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from 3 to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed. Most bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center signaling where the mouth entered like flea bites do. People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Bed bugs are always a nuisance but there are actually many effective ways to deal with them. One of the immediate ways to kill bed bugs is to steam them out. They cannot survive the steam, so any that you can see, you can steam. Use a handheld steamer to blow steam at the bugs. However, this will only kill the bugs that you can see, not the ones in cracks and crevices. Another way to help rid your room of these critters is to wash your mattress, sheets, and pillow cases. Vacuuming your room will also help.
While bedbugs don’t transfer disease through their bites, they can still give you an itchy rash that will not be easy to get rid of. Cleaning your room is important in giving you a fighting chance against these bugs. So good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite.