Bed bugs are on the rise. We may have come close to wiping them out in the 40s and 50s, but they’re back in numbers. Infestations have increased by over 500% over the last 10 years, and are found in every state in the country. We believe that knowledge is power, so here are a few bed bug facts that you probably didn’t know.
5. Bed bugs don’t care how clean your home is.
A common belief is that bed bugs are attracted to dirty and grimy atmospheres, and are most prevalent in unsanitary living spaces. Before you go blaming the neighbors, know that reports are coming in from everywhere. Apartment buildings, 5-star hotels, and single-family homes are all susceptible to an infestation.
Photo credit: Nadya Peek
4. Bed bugs can detect you without seeing you.
There’s no hiding from bed bugs, who don’t rely strongly on sight or sound to hunt – instead, they are attracted to the warmth of bodies (and freshly used furniture) and to the carbon dioxide you emit when you breathe. As long as you have a pulse, they have a way to find their next meal.
3. You can be bitten hundreds of times in one night.
Don’t count on finding just one or two bites when you wake up — infestations populate into the thousands in just a few months, and can bite their host hundreds of times per night. Since a bed bug can drink 3 times its weight in a single meal, that’s enough blood loss to give some people anemia.
Photo credit: James Heilman, MD
2. You probably won’t wake up from a bite.
Unlike bites from spiders and other creepy crawlies, most people don’t feel a bite from a bed bug (even when they’re biting in great numbers). This is because bed bugs’ saliva contains chemicals that numb the skin and prevents blood clotting, allowing them to take as much blood as they need without disturbing their host.
1. Bed bugs grow resistant to synthetic formulas quickly.
This is the big one, the reason we’re losing the war against these pests. Traditionally, pest control manufacturers develop a synthetic pesticide that is engineered in a lab to kill off its target species. These compounds are used first by large commercial projects, then sold off to consumer labels for low-price retailing.
Bed bugs are different from other pests — they reproduce so quickly that they are able to build resistances to synthetic compounds through rapid mutations. This quickly renders these lab-built products useless against many strands of bed bugs. If you want to eradicate a bad infestation, you’ll need to bring out bigger guns than an old pesticide in an aerosol can.