This article explores the question

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Probably everyone has heard the expression “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” I’ve often wondered what are bed bugs and where do they come from?


The expression comes from the past, when bed bug infestations were a more common problem. In the U.S. this was before World War II. They have actually been seen more often recently. In other parts of the world, this may not be the case, especially in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.


Bed Bugs

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Bed bugs are blood sucking insects that are reddish-brown, small, flat and oval. They are about 3/16 of an inch long. There are a few bed bug species, but the one that is most adapted to humans is Cimex lectularius. They have been feeding on human since ancient times as evidenced by references in medieval European texts and even classical Greek writing like Aristotle.


Places Where Bed Bugs Can Be Found


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Bed bugs can be found pretty much everywhere. Bed bugs can be found in homes, apartments, hotels, motels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools and modes of transport. They can also show up in movie theaters, laundries, and office buildings. The resurgence in the United States has been attributed to immigration and international travel as wells as the fact that pesticides are less effective. Bed bugs do not fly, but they can run quickly and they can go on floors, walls, and ceilings.


Life Cycle


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Bed bug eggs are laid in secluded areas. One, two or more are laid per day. They are sticky when first laid, which makes it easy for them to stick to any surface. The eggs hatch and nymphs emerge. They will molt five times before reaching adulthood. In between each molt, they will need to feed on blood. They can reach adulthood in about a month if favorable conditions are met. Three or more generations can be produced per year.


Adults can survive a year without feeding and nymphs can survive months. This means that leaving a place where there is an infestation will not necessarily help reduce the bed bug population.



Bed bugs are most active at night and hide during the day. They bite people at night when they are sleeping, taking about ten minutes to fill up. They then crawl off to digest. Some people who are bit develop a welt or localized swelling while others don’t show anything. It is unlikely that bed bugs transmit diseases to humans. Antihistamines and corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce the allergic reaction. Antiseptic and or antibiotic creams can help prevent infection in the welts.


Controlling the Infestation


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Bed bugs are not associated with filth. The cleanest house can become infected with bed bugs. To control an infestation, it’s best to contract a professional pest control company because the treatment has to be thorough (every crevice and cranny). You may need to through away infested box springs and mattresses. You can try to treat by laundering clothing and bed clothes at a minimum of 120ºF. Put them in a dryer on medium to high heat for 10 to 20 minutes.