Bed Bugs No Longer A Children's Board Game

Infestations On the Rise

Bed Bug Life CycleCredit: CDCFor a period of time in United States, Bed Bugs was just an amusing children’s game. But in recent years, this parasite that nests in the mattresses and feeds on humans by preference has crept back into the United States. Now travelers staying in hotels must take precautions so that they don’t bring these pests home with them in clothing and suitcases to infest their own residences.

Bedbugs were first documented in the 17th century, according to Ohio State University. Colonists coming into the Americas brought these parasites from Europe. They remained a constant problem in the United States until World War II. But widespread use of DDT and other synthetic pesticides drove bedbugs out of the continental United States.

According to United States Environmental Protection Agency, these pests have made a comeback in the last decade due to household use of baits instead of aerosol pesticides. This is because bedbugs are blood feeders and do not feed on baits the way that roaches and ants do. Another contributing factor may be that the bugs hitch a ride into the US in the luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture of international travelers.

Bedbugs are present in transportation vehicles ranging from airplanes to busses, and typically infest dwellings with high turnover such as hotels or hostels, apartment complexes and shelters. According to Ohio State University, infestation of bedbugs is not indicative of poor housekeeping practices.

There are two varieties of bedbug found here in the United States. They are Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. C. hemipterus is a tropical bed bug, which inhabits in parts of Florida and Costa Rica, while C. lectularius is a temperate dwelling bug that is common in the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Asia and Europe.

Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown with flat oval bodies that are about 3/16 inches long, no wings, and a beak-like mouth that allows them to pierce the skin and suck blood. Their flat shape allows them to hide in crevices including behind the baseboards in a home and around a mattress. After feeding, their bodies become redder, more elongated and swollen. They lay eggs that are 1/32 inches long that hatch into nymphs. The nymphs are colorless, but otherwise resemble adult bedbugs.

Female bedbugs may lay up to 12 eggs daily. The eggs may take up to 17 days to hatch. Nymphs may begin to feed immediately. The nymphs mature within 5 feedings. In cooler weather, the bug’s life cycle stretches out out. This is why infestations become worse in warm months and bedbugs are easier to control in cooler months.

Bed Bugs Part 2: Recognizing and Preventing Signs of Infestation