11 Little Known Facts About Bed Bugs

November 9, 2020

Bed bugs are some of the peskiest pests of all, what with their ever-growing populations and itchy bites. They have a reputation as being a simple, yet infuriating pest. In reality they are a little more complex than they appear, so we put together a list of little-known facts about bed bugs.

Bed bugs are everywhere!

Many people associate bed bugs with unclean conditions. A common misconception is that infestations can only occur in places like run-down apartment buildings and motels, or in third-world countries. Unfortunately for us, bed bug infestations can occur virtually anywhere, as long as there are humans around. Bed bugs can be found everywhere on the planet that has been colonized by humans, and they can infest any type of building that we frequent. They are more common in urban areas than rural areas, though, because of larger human population, high-capacity buildings like apartments or office buildings, and increased travel from building to building.

Bed bugs can endure extreme conditions

Not very good news to hear, but true nonetheless. Bed bugs can survive temperatures as low as 46 degrees Fahrenheit or as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and eggs can survive temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit! The bugs can also survive for roughly 100 days without feeding. What’s more, these persistent pests have started to develop a resistance to the traditional fumigation and pesticide methods used to combat infestations. It looks like exterminators might have to start getting creative with their removal methods eventually!

Bed Bugs can live in more than just beds

It’s true! Despite their name, bed bugs can live almost anywhere that provides shelter, darkness, and desirable temperatures. While mattresses are one such place, bed bugs have also been known to hide in furniture, luggage, clothing, cracks in the walls, picture frames, and even kitchen appliances! Yes, you read that part right. Because of the heat they give off, appliances like ovens that were recently turned off are quite attractive to bed bugs. Unfortunately for the bugs, they may not make it out before the appliance is used again!

Bed bugs are food snobs

That’s right! Bed bugs are actually remarkably picky eaters. They will only feed on fresh blood from a live host. They will turn up their nose at spilled blood or blood stains.

Bed bugs can drink a LOT of blood

When we say a lot, we mean a lot. These pests can consume enough blood to equal up to seven times their own body weight. To put this into perspective, that would be the same as an average adult male consuming 120 gallons of liquid all at once!

Bed bugs numb their hosts

If you’ve ever experienced a bed bug infestation, you may have wondered, “how did all those little bugs not wake me up when they bit me?” Well, there’s a scientific answer for that. Bed bug saliva has anesthetic and anticoagulant components. These components increase the blood flow at the site of the bite, causing the bite itself to be almost completely painless. Many people don’t feel anything at all when they get bit.

Bed bugs have keen instincts

Bed bugs are certainly not the most intelligent insects in the animal kingdom, but with their sharp instincts, they don’t need smarts. They are elusive by nature and know to stay out of view when their hosts are awake. They hide in all sorts of cracks and crevices, resisting their urge to feed until it is safe to come out. Due to the fact that humans exhale carbon dioxide, the level of CO2 in a room rises the longer the room is occupied, especially if the windows and doors are closed. This means that carbon dioxide levels will rise steadily in a room where someone is sleeping. Unfortunately, heightened levels of CO2 is exactly what lets bed bugs know it is safe to come out. Because most people sleep during the night, and bed bugs come out when their hosts are asleep, bed bugs have the reputation of being nocturnal insects. In reality, bed bugs will come out whenever it is safe for them to do so.

Female bed bugs lay a lot of eggs

Female bed bugs are able to lay up to five eggs a day. Given that a bed bug will live for around 300 days in favorable conditions, this means that a single female can lay between 200 and 500 eggs in her lifetime!

Bed bugs are slow

Bed bugs tend to do most of their traveling on a host or a host’s possessions, like clothing or luggage. This is because bed bugs are relatively slow movers thanks to their tiny size. They are so slow that they can only make it 3 or 4 feet in a minute. A bed bug would take almost an entire day just to move a mile!

Bed bugs can’t climb smooth surfaces

Bed bugs are not the strongest climbers in the first place, but when it comes to smooth surfaces, they cannot climb at all. They need something to grip onto which smooth, clean surfaces do not provide. As luck would have it, you can actually use their inability to climb smooth surfaces to your advantage. If you’re bringing a new piece of furniture or luggage into your home and are unsure if it contains bed bugs, just place it in a clean, empty tub until you are able to inspect and wash it. Bed bugs can’t jump or fly, so they will be trapped in the tub if they decide to leave the furniture or luggage.

Bed bugs can contract human pathogens

That may sound like bad news for us, but it is really only bad for the bugs. While they can be infected with human pathogens, no studies have ever shown that they are able to transfer any pathogens back to us.

Although these facts themselves don’t make bed bugs any less bothersome, you are now armed with knowledge that could help you avoid or manage infestations in the future. If these facts aren’t enough though, and you find yourself in the midst of a bed bug infestation, give Excel a call and we’ll send our experts your way. 

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