Common Name: Bed Bug
Scientific Name: Cimex lectularius
The insects were first mentioned as early as 400 B.C. In ancient Greece. Aristotle wrote about them. Pliny published “Natural History” in 77 A.D., which claimed that the bugs had medicinal value. This concept continued into the 18th century. Germany experienced infestations in the 11th century and France in the 13th century. The insects were discovered in England around 1583, but were considered relatively rare until around 1670. Many believed that bed bugs entered London along with supplies delivered to repair the metropolis after the 1666 Great Fire of London.
The insects remained fairly common in Great Britain and by 1933, houses in numerous areas suffered from infestations of one degree or another. The introduction of pesticides practically eradicated the insects until resurgence in the 1980s. After 2000, bed bug reports began rising exponentially. New York City, for example, reported 500 cases in 2004. However, by 2009, this number rose to 10,000.
Allergic reactions, skin rashes and psychological effects are some of the health concerns associated with the insects. Some individuals bitten by the bugs have also been diagnosed with MRSA and VRSA. Though thought to carry approximately 28 human pathogens, there is no definitive evidence to prove that the pests transmit diseases to humans.
Bed bugs consume blood and obtain moisture from the air. However, the insects only feed on humans when other warm-blooded hosts are not available. The bugs located a host by carbon dioxide emissions, warmth and by the detection of certain chemicals. When feeding on humans, the insects prefer the face, neck and arms of a sleeping host. They typically feed every five to 10 days, but can survive up to two months without a blood meal. The bed bug feeds by drinking blood through a beak-like structure known as a rostrum. The insects have curved and straight mandibular structures on either side of the beak. The mandibles cut through the skin in a sawing-like motion in multiple locations until accessing a small blood vessel. The feeding process requires a mere five to 10 minutes.
Reproduction and Gestation:
A bed bug will only need to mate once in order to reproduce for the rest of their lifetime. After the initial mating process a bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs. This is what leads to infestations exploding to large numbers fast and makes them hard to control.
Infestations occur when people or pets inadvertently carry the pests into the home. They may also travel about a residence through duct work or false ceilings and floors. The insects have the ability to move at a rate of around four feet per minute.