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About Bed Bugs


About Bed Bugs

Gaining a deeper understanding of bed bugs can be a game-changer when dealing with these pesky critters. It not only alters your perspective but equips you with essential information to tackle them effectively and make informed decisions. That's why we're dedicated to providing you with a wealth of knowledge about bed bugs.
In our quest to offer comprehensive information, we'd like to acknowledge and credit the numerous online contributors whose insights have enriched our resources. We've diligently cited and linked to these original authors throughout this FAQ. If you're seeking more in-depth information on any bed bug-related topic covered here, we encourage you to explore their sites for further guidance.
At Bedbug Thermal Ultimate, we're committed to arming you with the information you need to confidently conquer bed bugs. Let's dive into your most pressing questions and shed light on this common pest.


Guessing the Origin of Bed Bugs

In 1966, Robert Leslie Usinger's "Monograph of Cimicidae" became a renowned entomological work. Usinger, a prominent figure at the University of California, Berkeley, during the 1940s to 1960s, contributed significantly to the study of bed bugs. This extensive 585-page book detailed the known seventy-four-bed bug species at the time.
Usinger proposed a widely accepted theory about the bed bug's origin, tracing it back to caves along the Mediterranean seaboard tens of thousands of years ago in what's now the Middle East. These caves likely hosted bats, which were the initial hosts of parasitic bugs. Hypothetically, our ancestors, including the Neanderthals, found shelter in these caves, inadvertently introducing the bugs to a new food source: humans.

Bed Bug Drawing

The transition from bats to humans was a gradual and complex process, with the bugs evolving features like longer mouthparts to adapt to human hosts. These adaptations, such as reduced hair and lengthened legs for quick escapes, ensured their survival. Bed bugs' circadian rhythm also shifted to match human sleep patterns.
As human settlements grew, so did the relationship between humans and bed bugs, with infestations thriving in densely populated areas like villages and cities. Bed bugs became enduring companions as early civilizations expanded through trade and travel.
Source: A Drop of Blood with Legs: How the bed bug infiltrated our bedrooms and took over the world.

Bed Bug Life Cycle


How Bed Bugs Thrive

Despite their secretive lives, bed bugs, like other creatures, follow fundamental routines: seeking sustenance, shelter, and reproduction. For these bloodsuckers, sustenance equates to one thing—blood. They embark on blood-seeking "meals" every few days, primarily at night, guided by cues like your exhaled carbon dioxide, body warmth, and skin-emitted chemicals.
Emerging from their hideouts in places like bed frames and nightstands, bed bugs traverse floors, climb bed legs, and reach sheets to find their host. They employ specialized mouthparts—a proboscis, with upper and lower segments divided into right and left sides—to feed. Mandibles, equipped with teeth, create an entry point, followed by the probing maxillae searching for a blood vessel.

Bed bugs demonstrate remarkable acrobatics to pinpoint an ideal feeding spot, bending their mouthparts at extreme angles. Once on a blood vessel, they inject saliva containing around forty-six proteins. These proteins prevent clotting, dilate blood vessels, maintain blood flow, and possess antibacterial properties. The saliva might also contain potential anesthetics to numb the host, though this isn't scientifically confirmed.
An adult bed bug's feeding lasts about eight minutes, causing its flat body to swell significantly. Nymphs, younger bed bugs, need less blood but must feed at each of their five stages to grow; otherwise, they remain in arrested development.
After feeding, bed bugs excrete most liquid blood components and concentrate protein-rich red blood cells. These residues often dry into black stains on bedding, a distinctive sign of bed bug presence. Sometimes, multiple bugs leave a pattern of bites, particularly at skin-bedding junctions.
Adult bed bugs can swiftly return to hiding spots, moving up to four feet per minute, while nymphs move slower. They navigate using specialized antennae, possibly detecting pheromones that guide their behaviour and encourage group clustering. Bed bugs huddle together in their hideouts, often numbering from five to dozens, emitting a musty, fruity odour, described as an "obnoxious sweetness" by an entomologist in 1936.
Source: Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over The World


Why Bed Bugs Have Enjoyed A Resurgence

According to Brooke Borel, author of "Infested," the resurgence of bedbugs is not an anomaly but rather part of an ongoing trend where pests we attempt to eradicate make a comeback, often with increased resilience. Borel emphasizes that the return of bed bugs signifies a return to what she considers "normal."
One key factor contributing to this resurgence is the evolutionary adaptability of bed bugs. Over the past few decades, they have developed resistance to insecticides, a particularly troublesome trait. Today's bed bugs possess thicker, waxier exoskeletons that offer protection against the very insecticides meant to eliminate them. Additionally, they have faster metabolisms, bolstering their natural chemical defences.

Bed Bug on Skin

While scientists have yet to fully comprehend why bedbugs have made such a strong resurgence, human activities have played a significant role. During World War II, the insecticide DDT proved highly effective in eradicating various insects, including bedbugs. However, the effectiveness of DDT has diminished in recent times.
As Borel explains, "People used these pesticides for bed bugs in regions outside of the United States where the pest was still common, and also inadvertently dosed the bugs while treating for other insects." Bed bug resistance to insecticides began to grow, particularly in areas grappling with malaria, such as parts of Africa and Central America, where the World Health Organization employed DDT to combat mosquitoes. All it took for bed bugs to stage a resurgence was to find a means of spreading from these resistant hotspots to the rest of the world.
International travel facilitated this spread, with bed bugs hitching rides on various carriers, from shoe soles to luggage, enabling them to traverse the globe. Today, bed bugs are a global concern, a situation partly attributable to our role in their resurgence. Borel aptly notes, "In a way, we created the modern bed bug: it evolved to live on us and follow us."
Source: Bedbugs are Evolving into Nightmare Insects

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