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Bed bug has been around for many years prior to World War II, but in the last five years there has been a resurgence. Bed bugs have become a particular problem in hotels, motels, and hostels where there is a high rate of occupant turnover. Even five star hotels are having problems with bed bugs.
Bedbugs are 5-7 mm in length with reduced wings. The mouthparts are modified for piercing and sucking. They live between wooden floorboards or in furniture, bed frames, mattresses, or behind peeling paint. The bedbug sneaks out to grasp human skin with its forelegs, pierces the skin, and injects anticoagulant- and anesthetic-containing saliva. Bedbugs normally feed at night, usually about an hour before dawn, but if the conditions are favorable, they also feed during the day. Feeding time takes from 3-12 minutes. Adult bedbugs can survive starvation in proper conditions for a year or more. Each female lays about 300 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs hatch in 10 days. The nymph stage lasts 6 weeks, undergoing 5 molts.
Bed bugs are blood-feeding. They are a light tan color, but turn dark-reddish brown once they have fed on blood. Before feeding, the adult bed bug is about ¼ inch long and flattened. Once engorged with blood, it swells in size. Bed bugs can be easily seen with the naked eye, but it’s not easy to find bed bugs in a room.
Bed bugs can’t fly, so they either crawl or are carried from place to place. Bed bugs or their eggs can hitchhike in a traveler’s bags and clothing. The offspring of one pregnant female bed bug that crawls out of a suitcase can infest an entire room, and eventually other rooms nearby. Bed bugs usually feed at night and spend the day hidden. Their flattened shape lets them squeeze into narrow places such; bed frames, headboards, in bedside furniture, behind baseboards, under buttons on mattresses, in boxsprings, and in other cracks and crevices. Speckles of dried blood excrement can be found on bedding or places where bed bugs hide.
A bed bug feeds about once a week, usually for several minutes. It most often feeds on a sleeper’s exposed skin. The bite is nearly painless and is not felt by most people. Some people have no reaction afterwards, but most people develop a hard bump with a whitish center which can itch for days. Although bed bugs suck blood like other human parasites, there has been no evidence that they spread diseases. Bed bugs can survive for several months between blood meals if there is no person or animal for them to feed on.