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Is Your Favorite Sleeping Place Bed Bug-Free?

By April 4, 2009 - 9:55pm
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What are bed bugs and how can you be sure there are not living on your home mattress or on the bed at your favorite hotel? Bed bugs are ancient insects that need blood to survive. This means that they are constantly in search of warm-blooded hosts (namely humans).

Despite popular belief, bed bugs are quite visible to the naked eye, as some mature specimens grow 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch in length. Newly hatched bed bugs (called nymphs) are translucent and carry lighter shades of color. As they age, they become browner and molt – shedding their old skin. After reaching their full size, many resemble the size of an apple seed.

So, when do they attack? A bed bug waits until the dawn or night time to feed. Bed bugs are drawn to warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, which is found in the cleanest of homes and establishments. They hide in cracks and crevices, often seeking refuge in well-concealed locations. They are commonly found in the folds of bed linens, within headboards, inside desks, behind loose wallpaper, and under mattresses. Common signs of bed bugs include crawling insects, spots of blood, and the appearance of bug feces.

But how do they end up in your own mattress at home? Most of the time people acquire bed bugs when visiting motels, hotels, B&B’s, where increased domestic and international travel has allowed these small nuisances to visit homes by hitching a ride in luggage. Sometimes, individuals accidentally bring them into their home after spending the night at someone else's bed, or purchasing used furniture.

In the case of severe infestations, a bed bug may crawl onto the clothing of a visitor, which is then carried into a new home environment. When bed bugs attack multi-unit residences (condos and apartments), they sometimes travel through wires, pipes, walls, holes, and other crevices. They are also carried into living spaces by infected pillows, moving boxes, mattresses, bed frames, and other objects.

With all that said, are there any health risks when bed bugs are present?
Although bed bugs may harbor pathogens in their bodies associated with plague or hepatitis B, there has been no concrete link to the transmission of any disease that causes a medical threat to humans. However,bed bugs can cause:
1. Skin scarring and infection from itching and scratching
2. Stress
3. Anaphylactic shock (a small percentage of people have allergic reactions
4. A pungent, strong odor

More information on bed bugs at this site: http://www.bed-bug.org/

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