Bed bugs are a pest that has plagued humanity since the first cave dwellers conquered fire. They have, quite literally, been with us since our very beginnings. They have evolved alongside of us, going where we go and settling where we settle. At times we have been able to win minor skirmishes in the battle against these pests, but sooner or later they always seem to return.
Throughout the ages we have learned a lot about the lowly bed bug, although we’ve yet to learn how to totally eradicate them. But in spite of our hard won knowledge there are still many myths about these pests that persist to this day. It seems as good a time as any for us to do a little myth-busting and dispel some of the old tall tales that surround bed bugs.
So, let’s get down to business and bust some bed bug myths.
1 Bed Bugs Only Infest People’s Beds
This is probably the most common myth of them all, and it’s easy to understand how it has persisted for so long. After all, they are called ‘bed bugs’ for a reason, right? Well, sort of. Bed bugs certainly like to congregate around people’s beds, but that’s more out of convenience than anything else.
Bed bugs may be tenacious pests, but they’re also fairly predictable. They tend to stay close to their food source. Like it or not that means us, and a sleeping or resting target makes for an easy meal for a hungry bed bug. Hence, they tend to infest those areas of the home where we are less active and most vulnerable. Beds and bedrooms fit that bill quite nicely.
But a bed bug infestation is rarely limited to one room of the house, and these pests will ultimately go where their hosts go. It’s not unusual for a bed bug inspection to turn up signs of infestation in every part of the home. Bed bugs are just as attracted to the sofa in your living as they are to your bed, and they’re just as likely to infest a hall closet as they are a bedroom.
If you’re seeing any signs of a bed bug infestation in your bedroom chances are it’s already spread throughout your home.
2 Bed Bugs Only Feed at Night
Because of their name it’s easy to just assume that bed bugs are nocturnal creatures, only coming out at night to feed and explore their surroundings. But that’s not true. A hungry bed bug couldn’t care less what time of day it is. As long as there is an easy meal in reach, and a handy hiding spot to retreat to, they’ll happily feed whether it’s day or night.
It’s worth noting that bed bugs can survive for long periods of time without a blood meal. This allows them to lie in wait and choose feeding opportunities that best suit their needs. They are unconcerned with the time of day. If they have a resting target, and their bellies are empty, they’ll come out of hiding and strike.
3 You Can Feel Bed Bugs Biting
The attack of most biting insects, such as mosquitoes and wasps, can be felt almost immediately. That’s not the case with bed bugs, and it can often take hours before a victim realizes they’ve been bitten.
When a bed bug feeds it starts by injecting its victim with an anesthetic. This numbs the site of the attack and prevents the victim from feeling the insect’s bite. The bed bug can then feed uninterrupted and return to its hiding place without its hosting being any the wiser.
The average person will only realize that they’ve been bitten when the tell-tale welts appear. This can take hours or even days. The welts are typically accompanied by an irritating itch that can linger for up to two weeks.
4 Bed Bugs Can Fly
Many people believe that bed bugs can jump or fly, but that is not true. Bed bugs don’t have wings and their legs are not built for jumping. They can, however, crawl with astonishing speed. A fully grown bed bug can skitter away at up to three feet per minute. So while they may not be able to fly they can certainly get around just fine.
The myth that bed bugs can fly probably originates from their reputation as hitchhikers. Bed bugs travel from one habitat to another by hitching rides on prospective hosts. They’ll attach themselves to pants cuffs, overcoats, or backpacks. And of course their favorite mode of travel is in someone’s luggage. This is how bed bugs migrate from an infested location to a new habitat. When necessary bed bugs are more than willing to travel, but they don’t reach their destination by flying.
5 Bed Bugs Carry Diseases
Many people mistakenly believe that bed bugs carry and transmit diseases. Fortunately this is not the truth. Years of research into bed bug activity proves that they are not carriers of disease. They may be irritating. They may make your skin crawl. But they won’t give you a disease.
However, that doesn’t mean that bed bugs are entirely harmless. Every person reacts differently to the bite of a bed bug. Some people will have little or no reaction, while others may have a fairly severe allergic response and develop larger than average welts and experience a greater degree of itching.
People who experience a more violent reaction to being bitten by a bed bug need to be careful in how they treat their wounds. Constant scratching can open the bites and lead to a skin infection. In most cases the itching caused by bed bug bites can be soothed with calamine lotion or cortisone cream. In extreme cases it may be advisable to consult a physician.
6 The Effects of a Bed Bug Bite are Only Physical
While bed bugs don’t carry diseases they can, and often do, adversely impact people’s health. A bed bug infestation is about more than just being bitten in the night. It’s an invasion of your personal space, and the constant thought of being vulnerable to an attack from these blood-suckers often causes stress and anxiety. It’s not unlike being under siege, and the mental health repercussions can be severe.
In fact, a recent survey of people who had been victims of a full-scale bed bug infestation showed that 30% were struggling with insomnia, 22% were suffering from emotional distress, and 20% were experiencing higher than normal levels of anxiety. A bed bug infestation should not be taken lightly. While they may not carry diseases they can definitely impact your family’s health.
Protecting Yourself from a Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bugs have been with us since the dawn of time and they don’t appear to be going away any time soon. If you suspect you may have a bed bug problem the time to act is now. Call in a professional bed bug inspection and removal service at your first opportunity. The sooner you attack the infestation at its heart the sooner you can eliminate your bed bug problems and sleep easily in your bed once again.