One of the most reviled and least understood pest insect species recognized by science may be the bedbug (Cimex lectularius). How many of us dozed off to sleep in the evening as young ones with the parting words of our mom and dad in our ears “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite”?
Bed Bugs probably started to dine on human beings at around the time we moved into caves, the bat bugs Cimex pilosellus and C pipistrella mostly feed on bats and it’s also a fair chance that bat feeding species of bed bugs evolved to prey on human beings when our forebears started staying in bat infested caves.
Until the arrival of DDT in the early 20th century bed bugs were common unwelcome guests in most poor quality homes.
The later years of the 20th century saw pest operatives called out to very few bed bug infestations indeed, their presence being generally restricted to low quality holiday homes and student lodgings etc.
Many people mistake dust mites, which aren’t visible to the naked, with bed bugs which most certainly.
Adult bedbugs are reddy-brown, about a quarter of an inch in size and engorged after dining on the blood of humans.
Bed bugs usually prey on a target’s blood every few days, emerging in the early hours of the morning and locating their target by smelling the exhaled CO2 from human breath and once close to their target, body heat.
Lacking a suitable human host to feed on they might lay dormant for periods as much as 18 months.
Often the first sign of a bed bug infestation are spots of blood on bedding and on the edges of mattresses and many people can react badly to their bites.
The first part of this century has seen bed bug numbers multiplying all over the globe, the easy use of overseas and economic migration have both been given as reasons for the resurgence.
What is known is that they are now making a real resurgence not just in poor quality homes but first class hotels, schools or even hospitals.
One London borough cited a doubling of bed bug problems every year from 1995 to 2001.
One night away in an infested premises is all it requires, they hitch a ride in your suitcases or bags.
Pest control businesses are also now reporting cases of transportation related bed bug infestations on tubes, trains and buses so a simple ride home on an infested tube or train could be sufficient to bring these bugs to your own home.
They are an tricky pest to deal with as contrary to popular notion they do not just live in beds. They live in any nook and cranny suitably close to a sleeping human being, beds, electrical sockets, televisions, bed side telephones etc and dealing with them is both laborious and time consuming. They have even been revealed found living under the toe-nails of infirm people and in the creases of flesh on grossly over-weight people.
They are not a pest that can be successfully tackled by a beginner and a pest control professional will likely be called for.