For homeowners across the US, as well as those who travel abroad, bed bugs are a greater concern now than they have been in more than fifty years. After having been nearly eradicated in the 1950s, through the use of chemical pesticides like DDT, these diminutive parasites are back with a vengeance. There has been a surge in cases of bed bug infestation in every major US city, as well as in cities throughout Europe and South America.
Before spending money on how to stop bed bugs or ways of preventing bed bug infestation, it’s good to do a little research. With most of us having grown up without bed bugs being a widespread concern, a lot of myths, fables, and old wives’ tales have replaced widespread common knowledge as to just what they are, whether or not bed bugs are a threat to human health, and how bed bugs establish a colony.
Here are 8 of the most common myths that many people have come to embrace about how to deal with bed bugs.
Myth #1: Pesticides are Effective Against Bed Bugs
In the 1950s, DDT drove bed bugs to the brink of eradication. Unfortunately, this odorless, tasteless and colorless pesticide also proved to be dangerous to the health of small children, household pets, wild animals, the elderly and infirm, people with a wide range of allergies, and individuals with existing respiratory problems. Modern bed bug populations have demonstrated tremendous resilience to other pesticides.
Myth #2: Some Bed Bugs Can Fly
This myth takes on many forms. Some people believe that certain species of a bed bug can fly. Others believe that all bed bugs can fly under the right circumstances. One version of this story holds that bed bug nymphs (their young) can fly, with variations on that which match the previous list. All versions are false; no bed bug, at any stage of its life, can fly. They have no wings.
Myth #3: Bed Bugs Can Survive for Up to a Year Without Feeding
Under typical conditions in America today, including average room temperature and environmental hazards, a bed bug can survive at room temperature for up to 3-6 months without food. This does vary somewhat depending upon a variety of factors, but the full year has only been observed under strict, laboratory-controlled conditions.
Myth #4: Mattress Covers Can Prevent Infestations
Early in the 20th century, many people bought mattress covers to try and keep out bed bugs. There are even companies which sell mattress covers specifically designed to keep out bed bugs. These mattress covers do exactly what they’re presented as doing: they protect your mattress. They don’t protect your home, your other furniture, your electronics, your books, your linens, your clothes, or any of the people who live in your house.
Myth #5: Bed Bugs Can be Treated by Bug Bombs
Pesticide foggers, or “bug bombs,” release pesticides and chemicals into the air circulation of your home. In response to this, insects will immediately run for cover. The fact is that, short of using highly toxic substances like DDT, modern pesticides have little effect on bed bugs—and even less, with anything short of a direct application. It takes individual spraying to kill bed bugs, not a bug bomb.
Myth #6: Bed Bugs Prefer to Live in Beds
Bed bugs will reproduce and defecate right where they feed. This has led many people to believe that bed bugs live within beds (hence the name). Bed bugs will also set up long-term residence in bags and suitcases, linens, piles of discarded clothing, cars, trains, movie theatres, and within cracks and separations in a wide range of common surfaces in living areas.
Myth #7: Bed Bugs Are Completely Nocturnal
Bed bugs are typically nocturnal, but one of their great strengths is the ability to adapt to our activity cycle. Bed bugs bite primarily while we’re sleeping, and can learn to be active during daylight hours; they will also feed on resting individuals during the day if they’re particularly hungry.
Myth #8: Bed Bugs Reproduce Quickly
Most insects can produce thousands of eggs over the course of a lifetime. In comparison, the bed bug is actually fairly slow: a single female can only produce about 500 eggs over her year-long lifespan, the equivalent of what a fly can lay in just a few days.
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Bed bugs are tiny, parasitic insects. The variety which has evolved to feed on human blood partake of no other sustenance and have become specially adapted to migrate with the ebb and flow of human population distribution. Their bites cause itchy, painful, and temporarily disfiguring rashes, with large colonies having the potential to disfigure the appearance of a victim’s skin over a period of time.
Here are six more facts about the bed bug which are crucial to understanding, if one is to treat bed bug infestation—or prevent a bed bug colony from developing in the first place.
1.) Bed Bugs Live Wherever Humans Live
Many people are under the mistaken impression that bed bugs prefer dirty or unsanitary environs. The truth is that bed bugs are indifferent to filth; they do not feed on it, and it provides them with no other benefits. Bed bugs require only two things: warm human bodies, and places to hide, and an insect the size of a pinhead can find plenty of hiding places wherever human beings live.
2.) Bed Bugs are Clever
Like many insects, bed bugs instinctively understand how to find food and hiding places. This amounts to behavior which is approximate to the qualities of human cleverness and creativity. Bed bugs can communicate with each other via pheromones; colonies have been known to travel wholesale in the belongings of individual families who decided to relocate while under the grip of a bed bug infestation.
3.) Bed Bugs are Resilient
Bed bugs are extremely resilient. Like many small insects, they possess hard outer shells—this being a part of why they are resistant to so many modern pesticides. Bed bugs can survive sub-zero temperatures, as well as water halfway to the boiling point—up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. They can live for months without food, and hide in everything from furniture joins to electrical appliances during daylight hours. Some of the most effective products at eradicating bed bugs include natural plant-based oils, evolved to kill insect pests over thousands of years.
Bed Bug Bully is an organic, all-natural product designed to kill bed bugs while keeping your family safe from harm. It boasts essential oils from several such bug-killing plants, including mint oil, clove oil, citronella oil, and rosemary oil. These serve to kill bed bugs when sprayed directly, and to otherwise deter their presence.
4.) Bed Bugs were Almost Wiped Out
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or “DDT” for short, had nearly wiped out bed bug populations by the 1950’s. DDT is colorless, tasteless, and nearly odorless. It is one of the most effective pesticides ever devised for killing insects, but it is also quite toxic to people and other larger animals. Its use was banned in 1972 by President Nixon.
5.) Bed Bugs May Pose a Health Threat
Bed bugs have been thriving since their resurgence in 2010. While they aren’t known to cause any dire threat to their human victims, apart from the itchy rash they leave behind, they are known to carry more than 28 human blood-borne pathogens for a period of time after ingesting blood. It is entirely possible that these pathogens, which adapt even more quickly than the bed bugs themselves, could find a way to end up using bed bug populations for distribution.
6.) Bed Bug Saliva is Anesthetic
Bed bugs, as it turns out, aren’t entirely heartless. They feed on humans, but—if only to help keep themselves being crushed, in response to an otherwise painful bite—their saliva acts as an anaesthetic and a mild blood thinner. This is not known to cause any health complications, apart from the possibility of an allergy to the bugs’ saliva, but it does make it easier for the bed bug to feed undisturbed.
Other than Eating, Bed Bugs Only Do One Thing
Here’s a seventh fact; call it a freebie. After bed bugs feed, they retreat to digest their meal in peace. Subsequently, they only have one purpose in life: to breed, and produce additional bed bugs. In this way, they fill the role of an oversized viral organism, using your blood to produce more of their own kind. A single female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs in her one-year lifespan; if you think you have an infestation, don’t delay. Take action immediately; give Bed Bug Bully a chance!