Everyone was told, “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” when we were children, almost as if they were a made-up monster. And often it feels like they might be. There are so many half-truths and myths surrounding them, it’s difficult to know what the real facts about bed bugs are.
No one likes bed bugs. They’re amongst the most universally-hated creatures on the planet. Mostly because they’re so difficult to exterminate. And if false information and advice about bed bugs continue to spread, the infestations will too.
One of those myths is that bed bugs only spread between hotels, but that’s not the case. Unfortunately, bed bugs can infest homes too.
So if you’re a homeowner, here are 9 facts about bed bugs you should be aware of so you can spot the signs and know how to treat them.
- Bed Bugs Don’t Spread Diseases
Let’s start with one of the positive facts about bed bugs so you can relax a little and hopefully the impulse to itch will subside.
The good news is that bed bugs don’t spread diseases like other insects. However, they can cause harm inadvertently. If you scratch a bed bug bite it can become infected and just knowing that you have bed bugs can severely affect your sleep quality.
- But You Might Get an Allergic Reaction
It’s reported that around 30-60% of people who are bitten by bed bugs experience either a mild or no reaction. But that means 40-70% of people do get a reaction.
The common allergic reactions to bed bug bites include painful swelling and redness and an intense itchy feeling around the bite area. In some extreme cases, as with all allergic reactions, a bed bug bite could cause someone to go into anaphylaxis and require emergency care.
It’s important to be aware of these bed bug facts not to scare you but to emphasize how important it is to exterminate them as quickly as possible.
- Bed Bugs Are Extremely Difficult to Kill
The main reason bed bugs are loathed so much is because they are incredibly difficult to remove.
Firstly, they’re very resilient to common insecticides and pesticides. This is often why the only course of action is to hire professional pest experts because the average homeowner can’t get access to the materials required to kill them.
Adult bed bugs can also live for up to 12 months without a meal. So even if you leave a house empty for months and return, some might still be alive.
One of the most well-known and interesting bed bug facts is that they can survive in extreme temperatures from freezing to 119 degrees Fahrenheit.
- They Only Consume Blood
And why would a bed bug starve if humans left a house empty for over a year? Because bed bugs feed exclusively on human blood. Yes, it’s not a nice thought but that is why they bite you, after all.
This is probably how bed bugs got their name. They live in and around beds because that’s where humans spend a lot of time!
Bed bugs can extract and consume the blood from many different mammals and birds with their long, sharp proboscis. But since we don’t have feathers or thick fur for the bed bug to fight their way through, humans are an easier target.
Another fun bed bug fact: They can consume up to seven times their body weight in one sitting!
- Their Bite Doesn’t Sting
One of the most unnerving facts about bed bugs is that you can’t actually feel them biting your skin. Their saliva has anesthetic-like properties that numb the skin.
So, you could wake up with bites all over your body without ever feeling a thing!
- Bed Bugs Lay a Lot of Tiny Eggs
Bed bugs mate, lay eggs and hatch at an incredibly fast rate, which is why infestations can become out of control very quickly.
The types of bed bugs are egg, nymph, and adult. Female bed bugs can lay around 200 eggs in their lifetime by a process called “traumatic insemination.” Male bed bugs insert semen into the female’s abdomen where she will then lay 1-5 eggs every day for the rest of her life.
Bed bug eggs are very tiny and hard to spot, too. They’re dark-colored but only around 1mm big. Roughly two grains of salt!
The gestation period for bed bugs is only 10 days, and they grow from a baby bed bug (or nymph) to an adult bed bug in around five weeks.
Check out this bed bug life cycle guide to find out more.
- They Hide During the Day
Bed bugs are, unfortunately, clever and adaptable. They have learned the best time to feed is at night when people are asleep and vulnerable. Though they aren’t naturally nocturnal, bed bugs have great instincts.
They are acutely able to detect when humans are sleeping due to the change in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
This is also why bed bugs are notoriously difficult to find during the day. They know they need to go back into their hiding spot when it starts to get light!
- Bed Bugs Are More Common Than You Think
It’s fair to say that most people think bed bugs primarily live in hotels, hostels, and other types of accommodation where people are constantly moving in and out. And to an extent, that’s true. Since 2000, bed bug infestations have increased by over 80% most likely due to increased domestic and international travel.
But homeowners should also be concerned. Approximately one in five Americans have either had an infestation of bed bugs in their home or know someone who has.
While many are wary of finding bed bugs in motels, few think to check for signs in their own home.
- Bed Bugs Don’t Just Live in Fabric
Perhaps the biggest misconception about bed bugs in homes is that they only live in soft furnishings like beds, sofas, and curtains. Unfortunately, that’s not true!
Bed bugs live as close to humans as possible, but they also want to be able to hide easily. That means you can often find bed bugs in electrical sockets, in the corners of your drawers, and even in alarm clocks.
This is one of the most disheartening facts about bed bugs. It means that if you have a bed bug infestation, you can’t just clean your sheets and clothes above 119 degrees Fahrenheit. Everything you own needs to be treated.
Put These Facts About Bed Bugs to Good Use
Now you know all the top facts about bed bugs, you can be vigilant in looking out for any signs that you have them. Having bed bugs does not mean that your house is dirty, it just means you are unlucky!
Learn how to look after your home and its contents by reading our other articles on homes and gardens.