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How Do Bed Bugs Behave? — Bed Bug Infestation

Bed Bug University

Bed Bug University

What do Bed Bugs Eat?

Bed Bugs are not your average parasitic bug. If you have ever had a flea infestation you may have been able to rid your home of these pests quite easily. Bed bugs are much more difficult as they are able to slide into small cracks the width of a sheet of paper. They can hunker down and go for extended periods of time between feedings. You will need to be vigilant and well prepared in order to detect and deal with bedbugs. You may have heard that adult bed bugs can live up to a year without having a blood meal. This by the way is the only thing that they consume. There may have been some instances where this is true, maybe in a lab where temperatures are kept lower, or other unique type settings, but in general it appears to be closer to six to eight months before they perish without a food source. Of course when you are dealing with live insects you will see variances in longevity.

After the 1960’s most bed bug infestations were eradicated and so there hasn’t been much research or common knowledge since that time. Luckily there are now several researchers at universities which are studying bedbugs and we are seeing new information being published nearly every day.

How To Avoid Bed Bugs

These bugs have a hard time climbing up smooth surfaces like glass and other smooth surfaces. This is one reason that it is wise to place your suitcases on top of a bathroom vanity or inside a ceramic tub while staying in a hotel or rental unit. Recently, there was a bed bug video which showed a bed bug climbing up a glass Pyrex bowl on two different occasions. When this was investigated further it was found to have dust and also some scratches which were not visible to the naked eye. It is important that slick surfaces be clean and free of scratches and grooves if you want to prevent bedbugs climbing them. You can also rub a little bit of Talcum powder which will make the surface harder to climb. When climbing on people they will often crawl as little as necessary to take their blood meal. They will also feed where the skin is exposed and may avoid crawling into clothing on body.

Now that you understand what bed bugs are able to climb up on you should also know how fast these bugs can move. Research has shown that an adult bedbug has a “ground speed” of three to four feet per minute or up to twenty feet in five minutes. If a bed bug is moving at 4 ft. per minute they are traveling at about 0.045 mph or about 22 Hours per mile. They can crawl at about the same speed as a house ant. With this speed you can see how easy it is for them to take cover under a baseboard or other such crack.

Bed bugs must take blood meals to survive. The only exception to this is when they are just eggs and just like a chicken they are nourished from the egg. Some experts point out that, if necessary, these bugs can take a blood meal from other bed bugs. They say that this is rare, but underscores how well these bugs can survive when necessary.

Bed Bugs and Heat

They are able to survive cold temperature easily, but succumb to heat much quicker. Heat that is 120 degree Fahrenheit will kill bed bug eggs and all stages of bed bugs in about one minute. To be sure that the heat is reaching the bedbugs and their eggs it is best to hold the heat longer to be sure you rid yourself of these tough little pests. They also spend most of their time hiding in places that are undisturbed.

Bed Bug Eggs

Their eggs are tiny and both the egg and the nymphs that are hatched out of them are only about one millimeter long or 1/32nd of an inch. In other words, the eggs are about the size of a single stitch on your mattress. In addition, bedbug eggs are coated with a sticky substance and once the eggs are laid they tend to become glued into hidden places making them harder to find and vacuum up. Once the sticky eggs are laid and are able to dry it takes a scraping force to remove them. Eggs are cylindrical in shape and have one rounded end and one more flat end. On the flat end there is a type of hatch that lifts when the bedbug comes out of the egg i.e. hatches. Under a microscope you would be able to see the hatch is open or missing and would know that it is an empty egg. Eggs & nymphs appear as shiny, milky and translucent to the naked eye. Once a newly hatched bedbug (Nymph) is able to take its first blood meal it will turn bright red. It will continue to be reddish pink until all of the blood as been consumed. As the blood meal is digested the nymph will become more and more translucent again. If you are trying to spot newly hatched eggs you might opt for a darker bed sheet, but once looking for adults you would see them better on a white sheet. This process of digested the blood can take several weeks. Being translucent makes it very hard for you to see it which helps the bedbug escape detection early on.

As you know bed bugs suck the blood out of their host much the same as a mosquito. Bedbugs have piercing mouth parts which they use like a straw to suck up the blood. They take their blood meal which will cause them to swell up and also elongate. They will turn a darker brown and once they begin to digest the blood their feces will appear as black ink spots which can be seen easily on beddings and walls. They are known for being active at night, but they will feed during the daytime if that happens to be when their host is sleeping.

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