7 Facts About Bed Bugs

When you are a kid your parents might told you not to let bed bugs bites and for a long time they were so unheard of that you might have asked your parents, what a bed bug even was.

But today bed bugs are the fastest growing pest control emergency in the developed world. One in the five american either has had bed bugs or knows someone who has and the problem isn't going away, it's actually getting lot worse. Known in the scientific world as 'CIMEX LECTULARIUS', Bed bugs are blood-feeding insects that are about the size of an apple seed once they are fully grown. They survive on the blood of mammals and insects, but they prefer human blood. The colony of bed bugs can have thousand of individuals and you can have them without even knowing it. So here is what you need to know about bed bugs.

1. They don't only live in beds

The name bed bugs might make you think that they only live in bed. But the bed bugs will live just about anywhere they can hide. The Adult Bed bug is 5 mm long and narrow as a piece of paper and they can crawl up-to 30 meters (100 feet) in a night to find a meal. That means bed bugs will hide behind the light switches on the wall, underneath peeling wallpaper or the gap between walls and the baseboard or just about anywhere else. Bed bugs have even been found living in a prosthetic leg

​2. Humans Oldest Enemy

We have been dealing with bed bugs for a really long time. We know that they infested ancient Rome. Romans actually brewed them and drank them as a cure of snake bite. We also know that they were in ancient Egypt, Because Egyptians wrote about them (Probably complaining to their landlords).

The archaeological evidence tells us that bed bugs have fed on humans for at least 3500 years. Because fossilized bed bugs have been found at dig sites. The bed bugs may have biting us for much longer than that based on what in their mitochondrial DNA, That is the DNA inside the powerhouse of the cell. By Comparing the mitochondrial markers in bedbug populations around the world, we have learned that they originated in caves in the middle east, where they would have fed on bats.

Now bed bugs can't fly and they can't jump​. They can't crawl very far, either. 30 meters a night isn't setting any land speed records. So it's lot more likely, that we met them when we went into their caves instead of they coming out of their caves after us. Which means that the first human that bed bugs ever chewed on were probably the cave dwellers. 

3. Bed Bugs Hate Heat​

So we have had them forever and they can hide anywhere. How do we get rid of them. The simplest way to take life out of bed bugs is heat. Both eggs and adults will die in under 10 minutes, if exposed to temperatures above 46°C (115°F). you know how in the old times in movies, cheap beds like in hotels and hospitals had all those janky metal frames. Metal frames were popular because you can rub them in kerosene and light them on fire that would definitely take care of any bedbugs living inside them. Even though, Bed bugs hate heat, you cant just wait for them to die on a hot summer day for a couple of reasons. First of all 46°C outside does not mean its 46°C where the bed bugs actually living in their shade, under you bed where it is lot more comfortable.

4. Bed Bugs can Hibernate

Bed bugs are capable of something called diapause. Diapause is a deep sleep, where the bed bug shuts off most of its metabolic processes and survives on its energy stores until it either runs out of energy or wakes up. Bed bugs enter diapause when it starts to get too hot or if temperature drops below freezing or if they can't find food. That's why putting your bedding in trash bags to try and starve the bed bugs out doesn't work. Thanks to diapause, bed bugs can survive over a year without a meal. 

​Bed bugs won't enter diapause if it only gets hot over a short period of time. Diapause is a reaction to slower environmental changes like the onset of summer. Which is why heat guns work so effectively. but heat is not the only method to kill bed bugs.

5. Bed Bugs ​Were Almost Wiped out in 1950s

Bed bugs were almost wiped out in 1950s, All because of incredibly useful but also super terrible toxic chemical called DDT (Dicholoro-Diphenyl-Trichloro-Ethane). DDT was the first chemical pesticide to be put to widespread use. It was rolled out after second world war and by the end of 1950s, bed bugs population has been reduced in the developed world that scientists mostly stopped studying them because they could not find any.

DDt is from​ a family of pesticides called pyrethroids, which are synthetic versions of a compound created by the chrysanthemum flower. Phrethroid is absorbed into the skin via pores and starts uncontrollable nerve impulses eventually leading the paralysis and death. Pyrethroids have much  bigger effect on insects than they do on larger animals like birds or mammals. Even better, pyrethroids can affect insects at all stages of their life cycle including when they're in the egg.

DDT was enough to completely wipe out the population bed bugs and they was stay wiped out for up to a year. But DDT was banned in the U.S in 1972 for a lot of reasons. For one thing, females who are exposed to DDT before puberty are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. DDT has also been linked to male infertility as well as miscarriage, nervous system and liver damage and developmental disabilities in children. it may not kill humans the way it kills insects, but it sure isn't good for us. So we should like, not bring DDT back, ever.

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