Remember when “Sleep tight! Don’t the bedbugs bite!” was just a simple bedtime saying we didn’t really think about much? Those were the days. Unfortunately, the itch-inducing creepy crawlies are making a comeback, and that means we need to get vigilant and get educated. As in any situation, the best offense is a good defense, and it’s important to really understand the threat of bedbugs to both avoid them and counteract them if we do – heaven forbid – get an infestation. What better resource than Scientific American? Here are the highlights you need to know about bedbugs, but probably don’t.
- They don’t care how clean or rich their victims are.
- They can live on any piece of furniture . . .
- . . . but aren’t too fond of our bodies.
- They can come out and bite at any time.
- They don’t transmit disease.
- They’re scary, but they’re not superbugs. Bedbugs are not immortal . . .
- . . . and they can’t fly.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, bedbugs don’t limit themselves to messy or dirty areas. All they care about is access to lots of people, so any densely-populated building – be it a dorm, a shelter, or a high-end hotel – is at risk, and regular cleanliness doesn’t deter them at all.
“Bedbug” is not only a name that’s a bit too cute for such a disgusting creature, it’s also inaccurate. Bedbugs can live in and on any surface, including, but not limited to, suitcases, chairs, light switch plates, railings, or even the ceiling.
Bedbugs might enjoy biting us, but unlike lice and ticks, they don’t want to hang around after they do. Since heat bothers them, they’ll avoid clothing close to our bodies and seek out cooler areas, like our backpacks, luggage, or shoes. If you’re concerned you may be transporting them, those areas are the ones you’ll want to check super closely.
While they ARE generally nocturnal, that doesn’t mean you should only worry about or check for bedbugs at time, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can “scare them off” by turning on a light. Bedbugs’ need for food overrides everything, so if they’re hungry, they’ll come biting.
One slim silver lining to all those worrisome, itchy bites? You won’t catch anything from them. Bedbugs can cause insomnia, anxiety, and infections related to those conditions, but they don’t carry illnesses the same way other biting bugs do.
The only thing bedbugs have in common with the mythical vampire is a taste for blood, not immortality. Generally, they can only survive for about two to three months without a meal, not a year, as is popularly rumored. However, if their environment is super chilly, the metabolism of these cold-blooded creatures CAN slow down and extend their lifespan, even up to a year, which is probably where the rumor started.
There’s still more to learn, so head on over to Scientific American to read their original article and get prepared. If you do find bedbugs, stay calm and call a professional exterminator as soon as possible. What would you add to this list if you could?