Despite their small size, bed bugs have made a big impression in the news in recent months. In September 2014, parents were shocked to find that two students at a New Jersey school had bed bugs on them. In October 2014, New Jersey exterminators reported they received at least 20-30 bed bug calls every day.
With the bed bug count higher than it has been in years, many people worry bed bugs have infested their homes. Before you panic, keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not view bed bugs as a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs may be annoying, but they're not dangerous. In fact, bed bugs can be fascinating if you take the time to observe them.
Fact: Bed Bugs Can Live for Months Without Eating
Think you can starve out a bed bug? Think again. Bed bugs can go without eating for 20 to 400 days, depending on their age, the temperature, and the humidity. Older bed bugs can live longer without eating than younger ones, and some adults have survived without food for more than 400 days in low temperatures.
While bed bugs can live for months without eating, they typically seek blood every 5 to 10 days.
Fact: Bed Bugs Can Consume Several Times Their Own Weight in Blood
Bed bugs prefer to feast on humans, though any warm-blooded animal will do. The insect pierces the skin with an elongated mouth, and its saliva contains a chemical anesthesia that will keep sleepers from feeling the bite. (The last thing a bed bug wants is for you to wake up and slap it to death.)
While it feeds, the bed bug can consume up to six times its weight in blood in approximately 3 to 10 minutes. That's the human equivalent of drinking 120 gallons of liquid!
With so much blood in its body, the bed bug will plump up after eating, much like a mosquito.
Fact: Bed Bugs Aren't Exclusively Nocturnal
Bed bugs usually come out at night, with peak activity occurring between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This gives way to the phrase, "Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite."
However, this doesn't mean bed bugs are strictly nocturnal. Bed bugs will come out during the day if they're looking for their next meal. They are attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, which we exhale.
Fact: Bed Bugs Can't Fly or Jump
Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless insects with flattened bodies. Unlike other insects (such as fleas), they don't have the ability to ju mp long distance. They can move from host to host, but they do so by crawling, and they do not burrow into their host's skin. < /p>
Some experts estimate that bed bugs can crawl approximately 100 feet in a night, though they typically creep within 8 feet of its hu
Some experts estimate that bed bugs can crawl approximately 100 feet in a night, though they typically creep within 8 feet of its hu man host.
Fact: Bed Bugs Reproduce Quickly
An adult female bed bug can produce 1 egg per day, and up to 500 eggs in a lifetime. Each bed bug takes 10 days to hatch and about 5 to 6 weeks to develop into an adult. They grow fastest and lay the most eggs at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
While this may seem like a lot, bed bugs do not reproduce nearly as fast as other pesky insects. For example, the adult female mayfly can lay between 500 and 3,000 eggs in one go, and some species can produce as many as 12,000.
Fact: Bed Bugs Resist Pesticides
Bed bugs often prove tricky to kill. Their paper-thin bodies enable them to squeeze into tiny cracks in furniture and walls, and newly hatched bed bugs can squeeze into the stitch hole of a mattress. Their hiding abilities make bed bugs difficult to spray with pesticides.
Additionally, researchers found that the tough outer armor of the bed bug is chock full of protective genes. When the pesticides co me in contact with the exoskeleton, the proteins slow the pesticide penetration and eventually stop the pesticides before they ever reach the nerve cells.
Because of their natural resistance to pesticides, most experts recommend using temperature to destroy bed bug colonies.
Fact: Bed Bugs Can Live Just About Anywhere
Because of the name, many people assume bed bugs only live in beds. However, bed bugs can live just about anywhere. They live in baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and furniture. They survive in backpacks, under car seats, and on buses and trains.
According to the National Pest Management Association, bed bugs live in all 50 states. Additionally, they can withstand a wide range of temperatures: as low as minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because of this wide range of temperatures, bed bugs can be difficult to kill without the right tools. If you suspect you have bed bug s in your home, call your local pest control to handle the infestation.