When I was a child, I used to hear the saying, “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bit.” I was young and didn’t give the saying much thought. I went on with life, growing up with many of these sayings as most children do.
Children don’t think much of these things but bed bugs have been a problem for thousands of years. In the 1940s, they thought they had gotten rid of them but they made a comeback. Since 1995, they have been on the increase.
The bed bug is actually a family of bugs of the Cimex genus. The most common is the Cimex lectularius, a group of parasites that feed on human blood. They are attracted to the host, primarily the presence of carbon dioxide, by warmth, and some other chemicals. They feed by piercing the skin with a special mouth part called the stylet fascicle. This mouth part has very small teeth that work their way through the skin.
It should be obvious to most people that the reason they are called bed bugs is that somehow they are related to the bed. That is true. They prefer beds and other areas where humans sleep and they are active mostly at night.
What kind of problems do these insects cause? You can get skin rashes from these creatures. Some are allergic to their bites. Most have a psychological problem because they have these things in the house and stigma that comes from that. The usual reaction is that I have to get rid of these things as quickly as I can. How do you get rid of these things?
The most common procedure requires a combination of pesticides and non- pesticides. Some pesticides such as pyrethroids and malathion have been effective is some cases. Resistance to these pesticides has risen and in some cases, the pesticides themselves have been a problem.
There are some natural enemies of the bed bug. They are not very practical for humans and their habitats. The reason is simple. They are cockroaches, ants, spiders and some centipedes. In particular, the Pharaoh ant can kill them with its venom. You don’t want these in your bed.
The word is becoming a closer place with airline travel and greater population. As a consequence, bed bug have had a way of increasing their presence in parts of the world where they were not that prominent in years past.