Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius)
The bedbug is a species of insect that belongs to the suborder of the house bug, the bedbug family.
It is a synanthropic species (related to human settlements), however it originally evolved from ancestors who fed on the blood of bats inhabiting caves. At the beginning of the human race, the bedbug adapted its biology and life cycles to life with humans, and today humans remains its main reservoir and means of transport allowing it to take over new areas of this burdensome and dangerous insect.
In the 1980s and 1970s, the species was almost completely destroyed by the use of DDT. However, due to its significant adverse environmental impacts lasting more than 15 years, it has been banned in Europe and in many other places.
Currently, the bedbug, due to frequent travels, is dragged from all over the world to Europe, from hotels to our homes, and as it is perfectly adapted to life in the human environment, it copes very well. In addition, its new feature is particularly important, i.e. resistance to new insecticides.
Insects have a flattened body which allows them to penetrate into the smallest crevices where they find shelter from our eyes. In these crevices, they lay eggs that are inaccessible to conventional chemicals. Until now, reaching the cracks has been achieved by spraying dry fog with insecticides, but this method has ceased to work. Therefore, in many places around the world, the problem of bedbug infestation in buildings is growing exponentially.
Bed bugs are dangerous to humans. It has been proven that they are a vector of staphylococcal and streptococcal skin infections. Bite wounds can heal poorly, and in the case of allergic diseases and additional swelling, it is particularly bad.
The bedbug life cycle is approximately 45 days. The female, drunk with blood, lays about 250-500 eggs in the gaps several times and then dies. Hatching larvae look for hosts, then mature and start new cycles by laying eggs themselves.
Bed bugs can spread between homes through cracks in walls or along sewer or district heating pipes. They can also be easily carried on clothing including travelers’ luggage.
Despite chemical or physical control, bed bugs can recur arduously through reinfection from neighboring properties or due to resistance to insecticides, which are not able to destroy eggs and, more and more often, adults.
For this reason, for many people, an effective and cheaper solution than the repeated calling of disinfestation teams is to employ the main enemy in home conditions for bedbugs, i.e. the pharaoh’s ant.
“Dry facts” about the bed bug:
- 20% of the world’s population has reported a bed bug infestation in their lifetime. It is suspected that almost everyone has been bitten, but it is usually not recognized as the action of a bed bug and had no consequences.
- In 1950, the bed bug was almost eradicated, but since then, and especially since the 1990s, resistance to insecticides has been growing and the bed bug has been spreading again worldwide.
- 50% of people bitten by bed bugs are unaware of it because their skin does not react to their bites. For the rest, itching and redness occur, which can appear even 2 weeks after the bite and can last for 3-5 months. For some, this can result in permanent skin discoloration.
- It hides up to 3m from its host, most often in mattresses, bed frames, baseboards, cracks in walls, and electrical outlets.
- It adjusts its activity cycle to the host, not to the “clock time”
- Avoids bright places, but when hungry can feed with the lights on.
- The highest population is reached in September and October due to the warm summer. High indoor temperatures shorten development time and thus accelerate the generation cycle.
- 60% of bites affect the upper part of the body.
- The bite lasts 3-10 minutes, after which the bed bug stops feeding and digests the blood for over a week.
- The main problems for those affected by the invasion are insomnia, depression, skin discoloration, itching, and secondary infections in scratch areas due to itching.