Bedbugs have feasted on sleeping humans for thousands of years. After World War II, they were eradicated from most developed nations with the use of DDT. This pesticide has since been banned because it's so toxic to the environment. Spurred perhaps by increases in international travel, bedbugs are becoming a problem once again. The risk of encountering bedbugs increases if you spend time in places with high turnovers of night-time guests — such as hotels, hospitals or homeless shelters. Bedbugs are reddish brown, oval and flat, about the size of an apple seed. During the day, they hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and bed frames. It's a daunting task to eliminate bedbugs from your home. Professional help is recommended.
Bed Bugs History

Bed Bugs were first noticed in society by Americans in the early 1700’s. Many problems with bed bugs can be found in scripts and literature from this time period all throughout North America.
Many believe sail boats returning from Europe were found to be infested with bed bugs. And many of the sailors complained of being attacked by these bugs as they slept in their cabins.
Bed bugs have made a recent comeback. Some research indicates that up to 25% of residents in some cities have reported problems with them; usually in lower-class, urban areas. For these residents, bed bugs are not only a nuisance, but a problem bordering on epidemic levels. History has never seen such widespread and intense bed bug infestations.
The world saw a marked decrease in the numbers of bed bugs when DDT was introduced in the 1950s. The use of DDT as a pesticide was banned in the 1970’s and hardy bed bugs seemingly welcomed the news. In the past few years, levels of bed bug infestations have been on par with what was known previous to the mid century mark and they continue to rise.
With increased world travel, bed bugs are again making their presence felt as they are removed from one country and introduced to another through international transport on clothing, luggage and the human body. Bed bugs can be found on airlines and in cargo holds. Bed bugs can also be transferred from an overnight stay in a hotels, motels and Inns.

Characteristics of Bed Bugs
Though some believe that bed bugs (also known as Cimex lectularius) are too small to be seen easily by the naked eye, adult bed bugs are actually nearly the size of an apple seed (though their actual size can range from 4 to 6 millimeters or 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch.) The bugs are wingless and possess a flat, oval body that is generally brown in color (though immature bed bugs are translucent) with bands of small hairs that give the bug the appearance of having stripes. They live exclusively off of the blood of warm-blooded mammals and other animals, and often live in nests or bedding so that they can bite their victims as they sleep. They tend to be most active approximately an hour before dawn, biting their victims with a mouthpiece made up of two tubes that inject them with saliva to prevent clotting and then suck the blood from the wound.

Effect of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites generally produce swelling in the area surrounding the bite much like mosquito bites do, though in many cases these bites are distinguishable from mosquitoes because they feature a red dot in the middle of them similar to flea bites. The bites tend to itch quite a bit, the result of an allergic reaction to a chemical in the bed bugs’ saliva. Bed bug bites can take a week or longer to appear and often appear in groups of three, with the bites spaced approximately 6 millimeters or 1/4 of an inch apart. Around half of all people bitten by bed bugs never show any signs of the bites at all, though they may experience anxiety, insomnia, or in some cases even nausea as a result of being bitten. Antihistamines and other internally-taken medications often do little to reduce the itching of bed bug bites, though the application of some topical medicines such as Hydrocortisone cream or the application of heat can work quite well.

Increase in Infestation Reports

Though bed bug infestations had at one point nearly been eradicated in cities and towns throughout Europe, the number of infestation reports has been growing steadily since the turn of the century. It is believed that at least part of the reason for this rise in infestation has to do with the ease of traveling from one area to another, with bed bugs occasionally tagging along for the ride. The bugs wind up staying in the seats of airplanes, buses and other means of public transport, eventually clinging to a passenger and finding their way into residential homes. Houses with no history of bed bug infestation have suddenly become infested soon after visiting relatives leave, while rental properties and hotels have had infestations to begin after housing foreign visitors. Infestations have been reported in upscale housing as well as cheap hotels, proving that bed bugs aren't a sign of filth but instead are simply opportunistic parasites who are able to get in to even the cleanest European homes.

Consequences of Bed Bug Infestations

In addition to the discomfort of being bitten by bed bugs and the cost of treating bites that itch or become infected, there are a number of other consequences of bed bug infestations. Hotels and hostels have been faced with lawsuits resulting from guests that have suffered numerous bed bug bites while staying with them, though they generally offer to settle the suit out of court in an effort to avoid bad publicity. The threat of these lawsuits has led to some hotels to increase their rates in order to enact a more thorough extermination plan, while some hostels have had to resort to changing their policies so that guests are required to shower before they are even able to visit their room. Similarly, some smaller airlines have had to raise rates in order to secure more thorough cleaning services to prevent bed bugs from stowing away in seating and luggage holds a consequence made even worse by the already high cost of fuel.

Treating Infestations

A large part of the reason that bed bugs had all but died out was the widespread use of harsh pesticides such as DDT as a means of treating cockroach and other insect infestations in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. As more countries began to realize the hazardous nature of these chemicals they began to ban them, not realizing that the drop in bed bug infestations was related to their use. This doesn’t mean that harsh pesticides are required to get rid of bed bugs, of course; a number of safer and more environmentally-friendly pesticides can easily kill bed bugs, and they can also generally be eliminated by washing sheets, vacuuming carpet, and steam-cleaning mattresses and other furniture.



Gale Brewer discusses the legislative process from Kate Nocera on Vimeo.

To win the war against bed bugs, it is important to know the bed bug life cycle and to understand their procreation and reproduction habits. Bed bugs reproduce in the normal manner, yet their cycle of reproduction is very high. Theoretically the female bed bug can lay up to twelve eggs a day with the average being around five. They like to lay their eggs in dark, uneven places, in tiny crevices.
The reason why they probably earned the title “bed bug” is because a bed is the ideal environment for them to lay their eggs. Once the eggs have been laid, they can take from six to seventeen days for them to hatch with the average being eleven days. The newly born, but not too cute bed bugs are known as nymphs. Like any newly born baby they need to eat and to the best of knowledge available to science, bed bugs do not breast feed. The nymphs go out looking for food and the best source is that warm chunk of human flesh and blood sharing their bed which makes an ideal source for food.
If they nymphs do not find a source for food then quickly they will die. However if they find one, they are on the gravy train. Their development will be rapid, growing to a full sized adult within 21 days. They will thrive and reproduce in the warm environment of a bed, with their evening meal being delivered to it every 24 hours or so.
The human has become a victim and to a certain extent a slave to the need of the bed bug to thrive. By raising the temperature in the bed, they accelerate the bed bug’s development considerably.
It is a viscous circle that there is no way of arresting till the presence of the bed bugs is detected and radical steps taken to drive them out. In the mean time the human meal ticket is blissfully unaware that very night dozens of bed bugs are living of them. The bed bug is a minute being and his bite does not hurt.
The only symptom that the human will feel is when they eventually become ill due to the fact that their blood has become infected by the input of saliva that the bed bug leaves behind every time they feast on human blood. They will go through a total of five cycles of molting before they will reach their adult size.
In most cases, from start to finish, the egg will go from being a small egg to being a full grown adult in as little as 21 days. Till now no one has been able to accurately assess what the natural life span of a bed bug might be in the ideal environment detailed. It could be up to six weeks or even more.

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