The Truth About Bed Bugs – Separating Facts From Myths

Bed bugs are something that all of us know about from a young age. We have all heard the bedtime rhyme; Night night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. These microscopic vampires do indeed bite and they can be found in the beds of all types of people from all class systems and in every country in the world.

So how much of what you have heard about these bed dwelling little critters is true? And which things have been blown out of proportion? Read on to discover everything you need to know about bed bugs, what you can do if you have the misfortune of finding them in your bed and how you can keep them at bay for a restful and relaxed night in bed.

1. Bed Bugs Come Alive At Night.

Fact: This is indeed true. The reason that bed bugs become active at night is that they can sense your presence in the bed and decide it’s the perfect time for a snack. While they are not strictly nocturnal, they do tend to be much more active during the time that you are sleeping. As most people are out of bed during the daytime, bed bugs have nothing to feed on and so they will spend the time inactive.

2. Bed Bugs Can Survive In Clothing.

Fact: Again, this is another truth. Bed bugs not only survive in clothing but can thrive in them, especially if the clothing is not washed regularly, for example, Jeans or jackets. This not only provides them with direct contact to your skin but also enables them to travel and spread further afield. Bed bugs in clothing are the main cause of an infestation appearing in the home and can be brought into your home from long distance holidays, school, work and even from traveling on public transport.

3. Bed Bugs Can Go A Year Without Eating.

Myth: This one is false. According to Rentokil, a bed bug will survive on average for 100 days without food in a normal temperature room. While not exactly a year, over three months is a long time for this annoyance to lay in wait for you to return to your bed. The only way a bed bug could survive a year without food would be for it to exist in a climate of 10C and be at full maturity, a feat that is pretty much impossible.

4. You Need To Buy A New Mattress If You Have Bed Bugs.

Myth: Again, this one is false. While it’s true that you can spray your bed with insecticide due to the harmful chemicals they contain, you can eradicate bed bugs with a specialist heat treatment. The problem is that if you buy a new mattress, chances are that you will have bed bugs on the carpet, rugs, curtains, and clothing that would find their way back to your bed and re-infest it.

5. Proper Cleaning Of The Home Helps Prevent Bed Bugs.

Fact: There is truth in this one. By removing clutter and putting things away properly you can prevent them from taking refuge under things. It is a good idea to vacuum daily to help effectively remove them from shallow pile floor rugs and carpets and from the surface of your mattress. Prevention is better than cure and good housekeeping certainly helps minimize the risk of an infestation.

6. Bed Bugs Can Fly.

Myth: Absolutely false. Bed bugs do not have working wings and therefore cannot fly. In fact, bed bugs cannot even jump. The best that they can manage is a crawl which is still more than most people would like them to be able to do. Fleas are the ones that jump and mosquitoes the ones that fly. Bed bugs are strictly grounded, which is lucky for us as it would be a nightmare if they could fly.

7. Bed Bugs Can Survive Being Frozen.

Fact: Bed bugs can survive temperatures of -10 c for short periods of time and their eggs can survive in temperatures of up to – 25 c. Of course, being frozen for an extended period of time would eventually lead to its death and this is the reason why heat treatment is better for killing them than reducing the temperature of the room which would just make them dormant.

8. Bed Bugs Only Come Out In The Dark.

Myth: This is false. Bed bugs do not care whether the lights are on or not. If they sense a food source is close by then they will be active. Bed bugs are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide, the same as mosquitoes and just because you sleep with the lights on. It doesn’t mean that they will hide away until it gets dark.

9. Bed Bugs Like City Life.

Myth: Actually this one is both true and false. As cities tend to have larger populations of people living in close proximity to each other, there are more likely to be large infestations of bed bugs. However, they can be found in every type of location, from country cottages to high rise apartments. Bed bugs do not care much about the location of where they live but more about having a ready supply of blood and somewhere to hide.

10. Eggs And Bed Bug Body Parts Means I Have An Infestation?

Myth: Absolutely not! While it could be an indicator of having bed bugs in your home, it is easy to mistake small bug fragments for a bed bug when it is, in fact, something else. The only definitive way to know if you have an infestation is if you see them alive and moving around your home. Of course, if you find eggs of any insect in your bed, it’s best to put your bedding on a boil wash as nobody wants to share their bed with uninvited guests, especially the type that bites.

11. Bed Bugs Love Temperatures Of 21 – 26 Degrees Celsius.

Fact: Unfortunately, this one is true. We say unfortunately as many homes keep the temperature between these ranges, and these are the ideal temperatures for bed bugs to not only thrive but to also multiply in. 56 Degrees Celsius will kill a bed bug at any stage of its lifecycle and this is the exact temperature a room will be heated to during a heat treatment session to eradicate them.

12. Bed Bugs Lay Up To 500 Eggs Each.

Fact: Yes, this is true. The average bed bug will lay around 1 – 5 eggs a day, and as they can live for up to 300 days that equates to around 500 eggs after reaching maturity. Of course, the amount of eggs any individual bed bug will lay depends on many factors such as cleanliness, food sources, and temperatures.

13. Bed Bugs Are Only The Problem For Poor And Dirty People.

Fact: There is an element of truth to this as far as bed bugs tend to be found in places that have a lot of clutter or dirt making it easy for them to take refuge and hide. However, bed bugs can be just as happy living in a luxury goose down mattress in the mansions of the rich. As stated earlier, cleanliness reduces the likelihood of suffering any infestations.

14. You won’t feel Yourself Being Bitten.

Fact: This one holds truth to it. Bed bugs saliva contains anesthetic properties meaning that when they bite you, you probably won’t feel a thing. This is why most people don’t even realize they have been bitten until they notice bite marks at a later time. The reason the bed bugs saliva contains these numbing properties is to help increase blood flow to the puncture wound and help them feed undetected.

15. Bed Bug Bites Can Be Dangerous.

Fact: For some people, yes. For most people, no. Unless you have a sensitivity to the saliva of the bed bug, the most that a bite will do is cause temporary itching and perhaps some unsightly marks. The problem that can arise is if you scratch the bites too much and allow bacteria to enter the wound which can result in an infection. As a general rule, simply washing the bite and applying a perfume free cold cream or aloe to it will be the most you need to do.

16. Bed Bugs Are Getting Stronger.

Fact: Bed bugs are now able to resist certain pesticides that would have previously resulted in certain death for them. Pyrethroid used to be an effective chemical compound for controlling bed bugs, but their evolution has seen them find ways to adapt and avoid any deadly consequences they used to have from it.

17. You Can Kill A Bed Bug At Fifty Degrees Celsius.

Myth: Not Exactly. While the bed bug is definitely not going to like being in a room this hot, it is not a guarantee that it will die. The only way to ensure that any bed bugs die is to raise it by another six degrees to fifty-six degrees, this not only kills the bed bugs but also their eggs.

18. Only Females Bite.

Myth: Unlike mosquitoes, both male and female bed bugs bite. As part of the process of developing and maturing, bed bugs require proteins from the blood to mature and produce eggs. While males do bite, females tend to bite more often due to the fact that they will be reproducing on a daily basis.

19. You Can’t See A Bed Bug.

Myth: False. You should be able to easily see an adult bed bug, Nymphs, and eggs with the naked eye. Most adult bed bugs reach around 5-6 mm when fully matured and can swell larger after feeding. You don’t need a magnifying glass to see them, and you will definitely feel them if they crawl on your skin.

20. Bed Bugs Transmit Disease.

Myth: Again, this one is false. There have been no reports of a bed bug ever transmitting any type or form of disease from one human to another. There are also no reported cases of specific diseases carried by bed bugs that can infect a human. The most you will get from a bed bug is an annoyingly itchy bite mark.

21. You Can Get Bed Bugs From A Bus, Taxi, Train Or Cinema Seat.

Fact: Bed bugs are masters of clinging on to fabrics and fibers and can easily be transported from a place of infestation to any type of public place. They are most likely to be found in places where people sit for extended periods of times and can find their way into your home via your clothing. When traveling, try to avoid sitting if possible and check any seat you intend to sit in before doing so.

22. Bed Bugs Only Bite Humans.

Myth: Bed bugs will happily feed on any type of mammal and will happily set up home in your dogs or cats bedding causing them to itch and scratch like crazy. Cats are one of the main culprits for bringing bed bugs, ticks and fleas into the home as most owners allow them to roam freely outside and do not wash them as they would with a dog. To prevent bed bugs infesting your pet's bedding, put it on a boil wash at least once every 8 weeks.

23. Bed Bugs Don’t Live In Hair.

Myth: Again, this one is false. Bed bugs will happily live in human hair given half a chance as they will be provided with warmth, a nearby food source and a place to anchor themselves onto. Of course, the majority of the time they live under the mattress which is why they are called bed bugs, but they will quite happily live in any type of body hair or crevice. This is where good hygiene comes into play as they are easily washed off of the body and hair and prefer not to be getting a daily wash.

So now you have all the need to know information about bed bugs helping you separate fact from fiction. If you do have an infestation, don’t worry. It is an easy to resolve problem that can be done quickly and easily should the need arise.

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