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June 6, 2015
The bloodsucking bed bug has long been a nightmarish pest. Infestations can disrupt your life for up to a year and a half and you may never rest easy again. In addition to their inherent creep factor, bed bugs pride themselves on their ability to grow immune to treatment, live practically forever, and evade the human eye. Check out the 7 most terrifying facts about bed bugs below:
It’s intuitive. Having a clean home keeps pests and insects away. Well, that may work in the case of fruit flies and cockroaches, but when it comes to bed bugs, a clean home is irrelevant. Bed bugs are only interested in one thing: your warm blood. We would still recommend tidying up once in a while, but don’t expect to scare the bed bugs away with some vacuuming and dusting.
Bed bugs are naturally nocturnal, but only because that’s when you’re asleep. They typically live less than eight feet from where you sleep and wait to attack when you’re relaxed and dreaming. Even more disturbing, bed bugs initially give you an anesthetic so that you won’t notice them and swat them away.
Once they’re done gorging on your blood, they’ll crawl back to the safety of their hiding place – typically any small crevice they can find. Since they’re basically invisible to the naked eye and lie dormant during the day, bed bugs are nearly impossible to find without advanced inspection techniques.
Anyone can develop an allergy if a bed bug sucks their blood enough times. Bed bug bites cause itchy red welts that can easily become infected as a result of scratching. They also typically deposit feces shortly after eating, and if that occurs directly on the open bites, this process could cause skin inflammation or infections.
If that’s not enough, bed bug bites cause some unlucky few to have such symptoms as anemia, anaphylactic shock, asthma, and blistered skin eruptions.
Back in the days when DDT was utilized without regard, bed bugs were often treated with pesticides – and many even believed that they were eliminated just after World War II. However, the use of pesticides allowed bed bugs to mutate over generations. They developed a multilevel resistance to insecticides and are now 250 times more resistant to common pesticides.
Until recently, the popular belief was that bed bugs are annoying, but at least they don’t transmit diseases. All that changed recently when a collection of researchers and scientists at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital discovered the supervirus MRSA in several bed bug samples. Since all it takes is an open cut or wound to transmit MRSA, it’s entirely plausible that we could contract the staph infection from bed bugs.
Unlike humans, who need that 4:00 PM snack just to remain sane, bed bugs can live for nearly a year and a half without any food at all by hibernating. Even after a year, what wakes them from their deep slumber is your body heat and the carbon dioxide that you exhale. Which means that bed bugs are essentially real world vampires that potentially haven’t eaten in more than a calendar year!
Unlike humans, who have evolved to create the wheel, control fire, and tolerate Justin Beiber’s music, bed bugs exist for one reason, and one reason only. Tens of thousands of years ago, bed bugs were nest parasites, which means that they inhabited the nests of animals like birds and bats. Over the course of millennia though, they evolved to crave bigger prey, and set their sights on humans. Now they hide in our nests – aka our mattresses – lying in wait to feast.
So the next time you sit down to watch a horror movie, you can scoff at the ridiculous plot and over-the-top special effects, knowing that the real terror lurks where we least expect it – under our slumbering bodies as we sleep.