The number of bed bug cases has been rising rapidly over the past few years. This is due to an increase in travel and lack of public awareness. Bed bugs are small (about the size of an apple seed), oval in shape with flat bodies, brown in color, and look similar to a tick. They live on the blood of animals and/or humans. After feeding, their bodies swell and turn a shade of red.
Bed bugs can crawl quickly across floors, walls, ceilings and other areas. In her lifetime, a female bed bug will lay hundreds of eggs. Each of those eggs are the size of a speck of dust or a grain of salt. Under ideal conditions, a bed bug can mature in 3 - 4 weeks and can produce as many as three generations per year.
Bed bugs enter homes and business in many ways. The most common ways are through luggage, purses, bags, clothing, beds and couches. They do not have nests but live in groups in hidden places. The most common hiding places are mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards and nightstands or bedside tables. They prefer to hide where they have easy access to a host. Over a period of time, they may move throughout the bedroom or other areas in the home. If you live in an apartment, they can even spread to nearby rooms and other apartments.
Having bed bugs is not a sign of dirtiness. They do not discriminate against any type of home. They are found in immaculate homes and five-star hotels as well as filthy rooms and locations.
Bed bugs feed by biting a human or animal host and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. They will feed anywhere from three to ten minutes. When they become engorged, they will release the host and crawl back into hiding. Their bites are painless at first but can turn into itchy spots that remind you of a mosquito or flea bit, but do not have a red spot in the center. The bites are on areas of the skin that are exposed while sleeping.
If you wake up with bites and whelps that weren't present before going to bed, this is a good sign of bed bugs. There are several things you can look for to confirm a bed bug infestation. Evidence would be seeing live or dead bed bugs, blood stains on sheets or pillowcases, dark spots of excrement on sheets, mattresses or walls, bed bug egg shells, shed skins, or fecal spots on bedding areas.