GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT…
Cimex lectularius creep into dark, warm hiding places where they can shun the lightof day. They are light to reddish-brown, flat, oval, 4-5 mm long and 2mm wide, but pack a punch well above their tiny size. They suck the blood of all animals – including humans! They saw through the skin with their fit-for-purpose mouth parts, inject saliva that contains anticoagulants and (temporary) painkillers, and then feast on our blood. They are, of course, bedbugs – those notorious nocturnal nuisances that have plagued human settlements for countless centuries. Their small size and stealthy nature make them difficult to detect and eliminate.
Bedbug – Photo: ThoughtCo
Bedbugs aggregate in groups and hide away during the day in small crevices where it’s dark and safe. They emerge after dark thirsting for blood. What better place to hide than right inside your cosy bed, which will serve up a warm-blooded human to them right there every night?
Bed bugs have five immature-nymph life stages and a final sexually-mature adult stage. They need at least one meal of blood at each stage in order to advance to the next stage of development. They shed their skins at each stage, discarding their outer exoskeleton (in your bed). Newly-hatched nymphs are translucent, light in colour, and become darker brown with each moult as they reach maturity.
A mature female can lay ten eggs each day of her life, and over her lifetime may lay thousands of eggs, each about the size of a speck of dust, leading to huge infestations. Under favourable conditions (for the bugs that is) the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year. They live from about 10 months to a year.
Like most other true bugs, they emit a characteristic foul odour when crushed.
Photo: Bedbug infestation
Human sensitivity to bedbug bites varies from person to person. Some people have an extreme allergic reaction while about 20% of others show no reaction at all. If you scratch a bedbug bite hard or long enough to break the skin, it could lead to secondary infection. For allergic people, bites could lead to hives, blisters, or intense itching.
Bedbugs prefer exposed skin, preferably your face, neck, and arms while you are asleep. They are guided to us by the carbon dioxide we exhale, our warmth and especially our body odour.
Photo: Typical bed bug bite marks
How do you know if the hotel bed you are about to sleep in has bedbugs? Look for blood spots on the sheets or mattress; or there may be bedbug poop, looking like tiny black dots; or maybe bedbugs’ shed skin, which looks a lot like the bugs themselves; white, oval eggs; a sweet, musty odour around the bed; or even the bugs themselves. Be very careful that you don’t carry these unwelcome guests home with you. They can hitch a ride in your luggage, clothes or shoes. Once established in your home they are very difficult to eliminate, so if that happens, better call the bug busters.
“Good night, sleep tight, DON’T LET THE BED BUGS BITE…”