There are a lot of misconceptions about bed bugs. Some people believe these little insects live only in dirty hotels or cramped apartments, but the truth is they are found all around the globe in all types of living conditions. Bed bugs are good at hiding, so an infestation can be difficult to see right away. Some information about bed bugs goes against what people commonly believe.
Bedbugs are not like fleas, ants, or other insects that can dart around at top speed. Some ants can move as fast as three inches per second or about 12 feet a minute. In contrast, bed bugs only move three to four feet per minute, and that is on a flat surface with no obstacles.
Not only do bed bugs move slowly, but they also lack wings or powerful hind legs to propel them along any faster. For this reason, they do not travel far for a meal. They tend to stay in a 30-foot area when searching for food but have been known to hitch a ride on everything from suitcases to cell phones.
In the right conditions, bed bugs can go a long time without a meal. In a cool environment with low humidity, they can survive more than a year without needing to eat. In warmer conditions, their unfed lifespan drops to closer to 20 days. On average, a bed bug feeds about once a week.
Climbing smooth surfaces is not impossible for bed bugs, but it is difficult. Textured fabrics on beds, pillows, and furniture are easy for them to climb, whereas pipes, porcelain sinks, and fiberglass bathtubs are harder. If you suspect that a pillow, sheet, or piece of furniture is infested, placing it in the bathtub is a quick way to prevent the bugs from spreading onto other surfaces, but this is not a permanent solution.
In addition to not eating for lengthy periods, bed bugs can also tolerate temperatures close to zero degrees and as hot as 119 degrees Fahrenheit. Eggs can survive up to 125 degrees. The bugs are not nocturnal but are smart enough to know to stay out of sight during the day. This is one characteristic that makes them a difficult problem to diagnose and solve.
Mature bed bugs, or those who have not eaten in a while, may appear translucent. Bed bugs only get their color once they have eaten. If you see a bright red bed bug, likely, it has not been long since it last had a meal.
Bed bugs are commonly found in beds because they do not like to travel far for a meal, but they can be found in other places, too. Anywhere humans sit and spend a lot of time is a perfect place for bed bugs to hide, including sofas, buses, movie theaters, and even hospitals. It is a common misconception that cleanliness can prevent a bed bug infestation, but they are attracted to blood, not dirt.
The average lifespan of a bed bug is about one year. Females lay about five eggs a day — more than 1,800 eggs in a lifetime. Eggs hatch in about ten days and take a month and a half to mature. Newly hatched bed bugs are so small they can climb through the fibers of a mattress cover.
Contrary to what some people think, bed bugs do not spread illness or disease. Everyone reacts differently to bed bug bites. Some people may not have any reaction at all, while others are severely allergic. Bites can be itchy, and excessive scratching and breaking the skin can lead to a secondary skin infection, but aside from a major allergic reaction, the bugs are ultimately harmless.
One way to get rid of bed bugs on sheets and blankets is to run the linens through the washing machine on a hot cycle. Purchase a mattress cover specially designed for bed bug infestations to keep those in the mattress contained and prevent their spread to a clean mattress. Seal cracks in the floors and walls to give them fewer places to hide. You can also use a bed bug spray or pesticide.
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