Seen as a pest, bed bugs are small, oval insects that feed on humans or other warm-blooded animals by sucking on their blood. Known to be parasitic insects, they can be commonly found in places such as beds, pillows, seats and pretty much anything that has bedding. Bed bugs can cause bites that can be anywhere on the body, typically on exposed areas such as the face, neck, arms and legs. Such bites can cause skin rashes or allergy symptoms to some. It can also lead to a variety of skin manifestations such as blisters forming. Although these bugs are small, they can manifest quickly to cause an infestation that can be really hard to manage. Where did the source of these bugs originate from and how do they end up in our homes? In this piece, we will look at how Bed bugs became one of the most hated pests that ever exist.
Bed Bugs General History
It is not known where exactly bed bugs originated from, but they may have originated from the middle east in caves more than 3,500 years ago. Bugs were used by humans back then to cure common ailments. With the evolvement of civilisation and the formation of villages and cities, the bugs multiplied and spread all over Asia and Europe. Bed Bugs became well known in Italy in 100 AD, China in 600 AD, Germany in 1200s and 1400s in France.
England first reported of having discovered bed bugs in 1583. Soon after, they ended up in America. In Ancient Greece, bed bugs were reported in 400 BC and were said to have used these bugs as ailments for ear infections and snake bites since 77AD. This belief was continued until the 18th century when they were recommended for treating hysteria.
In the 1700s, bed bugs were brought together with the Europeans who travelled to America. The spread caused North America to be greatly impacted by the number of bed bugs present in the 1800s. Before the middle of the 20th century, bed bugs grew increasingly common due to the presence of electric heating systems that allowed bugs to stay alive year-round in warmth, especially in countries that experience colder weather. Since then, bed bugs are common around the world, with some countries, especially developing countries that have a higher number of bed bug infestations.
Bed Bugs Types & Characteristics
There are 92 different recognised species of such bugs in the world. They belong to the Hemiptera that includes a variety of different forms including scorpions and aphids. Majority of them feed on plant saps and are carriers of important plant diseases. Only a few species in the family known as Cimicidae and those related to it will feed on birds and mammalian species for blood.
The most common type of Cimicidae will be Cimex lectularius, a bug that infests and feeds on poultry, bats and humans. It is very well adapted to human environments and various climates around the world. There is also Cimex hemipterus, that feeds on humans and bats, found in tropical regions in the world.
These bugs are hematophagous insects which feed for blood. They only feed on humans when no other prey is available. Nymph bed bugs can be as small as 1.5mm, while adult bed bugs reach 5mm – 7mm in length. They have flat bodies and can sometimes be mistaken as ticks or tiny cockroaches. Nymph bed bugs are light in colour and appear bright red after feeding. Adult bed bugs are reddish in colour, which appear more swelled up and reddish after feeding. They have small wings that do not enable them to fly but are able to crawl around quickly.
How do bed bugs enter homes?
Bed bugs tend to spread by travelling, attaching itself to items such as clothing, luggage, furniture, boxes and bedding. They dwell mostly with humans but can be found in places such as:
- Buses, Trains, Taxis, Planes
- Office Buildings
- Nursing Homes
And these are just some to name. They can be found anywhere, as long as there are people travelling around and have contact with various surfaces. The presence of bed bugs in a location does not mean that the place is dirty. All they need is a warm area with places to hide in dark corners or spots. Bites caused by bed bugs tend to appear as a row of bites on an exposed area of the body while sleeping. The bite is painless and can go unnoticed, but signs will start to develop up to 14 days after being bitten. This can cause the removal of bed bugs to be difficult as bed bugs only take up to 5-10 minutes before moving away to a dark area to hide and over the next 5-10 days, digest their meal, mate and lay eggs to multiply.
It can be difficult to totally eliminate carrying bed bugs as travelling to many places and coming in contact with multiple surfaces outside is inevitable. Hence, it is important to maintain strict hygiene practices at home, by inspecting items brought from outside, and washing clothes immediately instead of sitting around the house in those clothes. It is good to clean places that are hotspots for bed bugs to manifest, such as dark areas and corners. If the bed bug infestation gets out of hand, it is good to contract the services of a bed bugs control company that can help you with solving the issue. As with all things, if all fails, just contact your friendly pest control companies in your area.