Watch out! When night falls, they attack! These nocturnal, blood-sucking insects feed on humans at night when everyone is asleep. They live in mattresses, furniture, pillows, electrical appliances and every dark crevice you can imagine. They have invaded countless homes, hotels, apartments and just about any place where people lay to sleep.
Bedbugs are reddish-brown, flat-bodied, wingless, and grow not longer than 0.2inch. Other than humans, bed bugs also feed on other mammals, including cats and dogs. The feeding process starts when the bedbug pierces the skin of its host and withdraws the blood thereafter. Its saliva contains anticoagulant to keep the host’s blood flowing as they suck and likewise, a numbing agent to anesthetize the host and keep him/her from feeling any discomfort while they’re busy working. Feeding takes about five minutes and once they have their fill, they return to their hiding place. Bedbug bites leave a red welt on the surface of the skin. Some people who have allergic reactions develop bumps and blister-like inflammations. Although bedbugs are not known to spread diseases to humans, they are likely to host other organisms that cause Hepatitis B and other diseases. Bedbugs can go without food for a year but they normally seek out for food every 5-10 days.
People have this notion that bedbug infestation is associated with poor housekeeping. It’s not. Bedbugs are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide and not on filth and clutter. Cleanliness wouldn’t make your house bedbug-proof.
Fifty years ago, bedbugs are said to have been nearly eliminated by DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane), a synthetic pesticide used to combat mosquitoes spreading malaria and other insect-born diseases. However, DDT was banned in the 80’s due to human toxicity concerns. Eliminating bedbugs nowadays is more challenging because extermination practices have become insect-specific. A pesticide for a cockroach may not work for a bedbug and vice versa.
Of late, there has been a dramatic increase in bedbug infestation in the U.S, Europe and other countries. People say this is attributed to international travel. Bedbugs may cling to the travelers’ clothes and possibly shack itself up in the luggage. Transferring from one country to another inevitably spreads the infestation. Other factors include increased resistance to pesticides and newer pest-control methods that leave bedbugs unharmed.
How do we prevent bedbugs from invading our home? Here are helpful tips to protect ourselves from bedbugs:
– If you are buying a secondhand furniture, thoroughly inspect the item before bringing them into your home.
– Employ the regular services of a professional exterminator.
– Use bed nets impregnated with permethrin to ward off infestation in tropical areas.
– Inspect any room you’re about to inhabit while traveling.
– After you return from a trip, check your luggage for insects that might have hitched a ride.
– Change bed linens at least once a week, and wash in hot water of at least 97 F (36 C).
More tips are found here.
Now, if you find yourself bitten by a bedbug, apply topical cream on the affected area. Cortisone will do. And don’t scratch the area no matter how itchy it is. However, should you have allergic reactions to cortisone or if you think the bites are severe, it is best to seek medical advice.