You’ve just woken up; something smells musty and sweet. When you open your eyes your bed has a trail of malted insect shells, rust coloured stains and tiny smears of excrement.
Bed bugs are one of nature’s most perfectly evolved human blood-sucking machines and if a couple of these get into your home, you’re going to know all about it.
Bed bugs are horrible creatures. Over 95% of single-family homes are reported to have bed bugs inside. Whilst they are very common, they aren’t exactly life-threatening. All you may receive from a bed bug is a small, red bump from a bite. Despite this not being a massive inconvenience, they are still an annoyance.
AMES has taken the time to identify what is a bed bug, what they are capable of and finally, how to get rid of them.
Bed Bug Advice from Dr James Logan
Dr James Logan is continuously trying to work out how to combat the growing bed bug problem. His lab is a host to thousands of them, and James knows all too well when the bed bugs bite.
When asked “what does the bite feel like” James responded:
“I felt a very, very slight nip!”
Bed bugs have piercing mouthparts, almost like a needle. They inject that into your skin to find the blood capillary and then they start feeding from the blood. When you’ve got bed bugs, you know you’ve got them. Your arm will come up in a big red, itchy lump and what your immune system is doing is reacting to the chemicals that are injected into your body in their saliva and it contains a cocktail of chemicals that basically act as an anticoagulant and also an anaesthetic. So, you can’t feel the bed bug feeding on you.
Just saying this makes me itchy.
We thought these little vampires were taken care of after we bombed them with DDT in the 1950s. But they’re back! DDT was outlawed in 1972 so we can’t just nuke them from orbit to be sure. The official name for these cretins is cimex lectularius and they’re parasites that feed off their sleeping host’s blood. The largest they get is only a quarter of an inch, and they’re flat so they’re easy to miss. They’re brownish and wingless with 6 shiny legs. They use their syringe-like mouthbeaks to pierce your skin and suck your blood.
Now unlike Dracula, these guys rarely wake their victims whilst feeding and can even take 3-10 minutes to gorge on your blood. While drinking, they release their own saliva into your broken skin, which can eventually cause an allergic reaction. Luckily, they don’t spread disease, but the bites can swell and itch.
Still, they probably won’t drain you dry. It takes 100,000 bed bugs feeding on your at least once a week to make you anaemic. Let’s also put one misconception to bed (no pun intended). Bed bugs aren’t a sign of poor hygiene, even immaculate mansions can get them. It only takes one to ride in and infect your whole home.
Here’s a short list of spots where they can conceal themselves:
- Bed frame cracks
- Light switches
- Wallpaper cracks
Basically, anywhere dark and protected is up for grabs. One way to tell you’ve got them is from the coriander-like odour they release when they’re alarmed. The worst part is they can live up to a year without eating. So, even if you move into a vacant residence, they could still be there…
So, then how do we kill them? Like with any vampire, you should hire a professional. To successfully eradicate them sometimes takes up to four different treatments. Such as:
Dry ice sprays
Sustained exposure to temperatures of 130 degrees will also kill them. Which is why you’ll need to wash all your linens and blast them inside a hot dryer.
Destroy them with heat, and a lot of it.
And remember what I said about messy clutter? Yeah, clear that up so they don’t have anywhere to hide in.
Now that we’ve gone through the specifics, we want to hear about your worst bed bug stories! Comment below and let us know!