“Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite!”
It is a common children’s bedtime poem that most of us have heard throughout our lives. For those that have never felt a bed bug’s bite, it rarely goes beyond a childish poem. For millions throughout South Florida though, bed bugs are an all-too-real nightmare.
What are they, and how do we spot them? Let’s take a look at their characteristics, their habits, and put to bed some common misconceptions and rumors concerning these troublesome pests. It is important to know the reality of what we’re up against.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small brown and red insects that feed off human blood. The adults are approximately a quarter-inch around, about the size of an apple seed. They are typically active at night and drink blood by boring through the skin of the host with a long hook-like beak.
The baby bed bugs are called nymphs and go through 5 growth cycles before reaching maturity. During each growth cycle, the bed bug molts its exoskeleton after gorging itself on blood. Over the course of its lifetime, a female bed bug can lay hundreds of eggs. Once a colony is established, an infestation is close behind.
Infestation: A Bloody Nightmare
The first sign that a person usually notices are the bites that appear in the morning. Bed bug bites initially are painless, but after a few hours, they begin to swell and itch considerably. Once a person scratches them, they tend to bleed lightly and scab over quickly. The bites themselves are unsightly, uncomfortable, and can be quite embarrassing to explain.
Blood droplets on sheets and pillowcases may be the first significant indication that there is an infestation. As they grow, bed bugs tend to leave their molted exoskeletons behind on mattress creases and seams.
Bed Bug Location and Identification
Once it becomes clear that a colony may be established, it is important that a person move quickly to verify that it is actually bed bugs. There are many different kinds of parasitic pests, and each must be dealt with in its own way. Bedbugs are resilient, but not impossible to remove.
The first step is to try to find the bugs themselves. Strip all bedding and check along the seams and edges. They like to hide in the cracks of wooden bed frames and on the underside of box springs. While they primarily stay close to the bed, bed bugs move rapidly around the room and can spread to other areas of the house quickly. Check baseboards and beneath rugs.
The eggs are small, barely the size of a grain of sand, but the adults and nymph stages should be easy to spot. Once they have attached their eggs to a mattress bed bugs become incredibly difficult to remove.
Common Fallacies About Bed Bug Infestations
Most people think that bed bugs are a sign of poor hygiene or dirty living conditions. But the truth is that bed bugs occur everywhere. They hitch rides on clothing and can be found in the fanciest hotels and the nicest homes. Because they have such a high tourist concentration, cities like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach are hit especially hard.
People tend to believe that since bed bugs are blood-drinking parasites that they spread disease. The truth is that there is no evidence to support this whatsoever. While they are a nuisance, they are not technically dangerous.
But even knowing all of this, it still doesn’t alleviate the concern. While they may not spread disease, bed bugs leave horrible bites that disrupt sleep and turn your hours of rest into a real nightmare.
Sleep tight, and stay tuned for our next article on what to do about these icky critters…
If you can’t wait because they’re already in your house, call us today and we will come today!
AAA Pest Control