You might have heard the cute saying “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” but would you be surprised to know that you are more likely to be bitten by a bed bug today than you would have been 50 years ago? These persistent parasites were almost completely wiped out in North America thanks to the invention of DDT, but have made a comeback since the early 2000s thanks to a pesticide-resistant species that has taken homes and bedrooms by storm in recent years. This species is hiding in your sheets and they are coming for your blood. However, how harmful are bedbugs and how worried do you need to be about an infestation?

America’s Most Unwelcome Houseguest

The bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is a parasite that subsists on the blood of large mammals, but unlike other similar insects such as mosquitos or ticks they do not attach themselves to a host for a long period of time and engorge themselves. In fact, they are able to survive for long periods of time without feeding. They have been compared to vampires because they are able to virtually bury themselves in the crevices of your bedding for long periods of time only to come out when you are sleeping for a quick sip. They can be as small as 1mm and can be incredibly difficult to locate even if you know you are being bitten at night. They are reddish-brown in color and their bodies are a nearly totally flat oval shape that allows them to squeeze comfortably into very small spaces.

How Dangerous Are Bed Bugs?

Being bitten by bed bugs is an unpleasant experience that is similar to other bites you may have experienced from species of mosquitos, fleas, biting flies or ants. They feed in quick 3-10 minute increments while you are sleeping, and as they inject an anesthetic toxin with their bite the initial feeding is painless. It can take up to a full day before a person realizes that they have been bitten when the affected area swells into a painful welt. However, unlike other blood-feeding parasites, the CDC has identified no known diseases that bed bugs currently transmit to humans. They are considered a health hazard because their bites can cause severe skin inflammation leading to itching, discomfort, loss of sleep, and a potential for skin infections resulting from scratching the affected areas.

Bed Bug Prevention in Your Home

Although bed bug bites are fairly easy to treat with topical medication, it is best to prevent them in the first place. First, you must determine what rooms are infested, and this can be done by examining sheets, mattresses, and box springs for small brown spots that the bugs leave behind. Once you know where to find them, your pest control professional can treat the area with insecticide or whole room heat treatments. Commercial store-bought pesticides will not be an effective treatment for a bedbug infestation.

Are you experiencing a bedbug infestation? Contact us at University Termite and Pest Control today for a free consultation.

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