Top 10 Myths about Bedbugs: The bugs are making a comeback all over the world, but they can’t move and don’t want to stay on your body, but they do bite during the day sometimes.These bugs used to be a problem in some places, but now they’re in every state in the U.S. Cimex lectularius, which are small, flattened bugs that only eat the blood of mammals and birds, have lived with people for a very long time. Before World War II, there were a lot of bedbugs in the U.S., but by the 1940s and 1950s, cleanliness had gotten better and pesticides were being used more.
But in the last 10 years, the pests have made a comeback around the world. An outbreak after the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney was a sign of things to come. Experts say this revival may be the worst yet because of overcrowding in cities, travel around the world, and pesticide tolerance that is growing. This is something to think about as the summer travel season starts.
Entomologist Coby Schal at North Carolina State University in Raleigh says, “By every measure we use, it’s getting worse and worse.” A lot of people are calling health officials and pest control companies, and the epidemic may not have even reached its peak yet. He also says that because bedbugs are indoor pests, there are no high or low times of the year, just constant attacks.
“It’s just the beginning of the problem in the U.S.,” Schal states.Along with the bedbugs is a lot of false information about how they live and behave. Here are the truths about some of the most well-known myths about these small bloodsuckers, straight from the experts.
Top 10 Myths about Bedbugs
Myth 1: Bedbugs can fly
Bedbugs can’t fly because they don’t have wings. Stephen Kells, a bedbug researcher at the University of Minnesota, says that is unless you put a blow drier behind them. Then they’ll fly about six inches. It takes them about one minute to crawl one metre on their own, he says.
Myth 2: Bedbugs reproduce quickly
Bedbugs don’t reproduce as quickly as some other insects: A common housefly lays 500 eggs over the course of three to four days. Each adult female lays about one egg every day. It takes 10 days for a bedbug egg to hatch, and another 5–6 weeks for the young to grow up and become an adult.
Myth 3: Bedbugs can typically live a year without a meal
Even though scientists disagree on this, there is proof that bedbugs can only live for two to three months without a blood meal at room temperature, which is about 23 degrees Celsius. But because they are cold-blooded, their metabolism will slow down in colder places, and they might not need to eat for a whole year.
Myth 4: Bedbugs bite only at night
Bedbugs usually come out at night, but like people, they’ll get up and eat something if they’re hungry. “If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it’s daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you,” Schal explains. So, sadly, leaving a light on doesn’t keep these little vampires away.
Myth 5: Bedbugs live exclusively in mattresses
“The name ‘bedbug’ is so wrong,” Kells says. “They should also be called pet bugs and suitcase bugs and train bugs and movie theatre bugs.” He says bedbugs can be seen on any surface, even chairs, railings, and walls, and they don’t just live in beds.
Myth 6: Bedbugs prefer unsanitary, urban conditions
Bedbugs don’t care what kind of person you are, says Schal. Bedbugs can be found in fancy high-rises as well as homes for the homeless. Because of this, the bugs’ popularity in low-income housing is not because the bugs like living there, but because there are a lot of them and people don’t have enough money to pay for good pest control methods. Kells says, “Any place is open to attack.” “But some people are going to have a harder time getting control of them because it is such an expensive treatment.”
Top 10 Myths about Bedbugs
Myth 7: Bedbugs travel on our bodies
Kells says mattress bugs don’t like it hot. Because of this, they don’t stick to hair or skin like lice or ticks do, and they don’t like staying in our clothes near our body heat. Bedbugs tend to move around on bags, luggage, shoes, and other things that are farther away from our bodies.
Myth 8: Bedbugs transmit disease
Bedbug bites can make you anxious, keep you from sleeping, and even cause secondary infections. However, bedbugs have not been known to transmit disease to people. On the other hand, they do harbour human pathogens: Bedbugs have been found to carry at least 27 viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other microbes, but these microbes do not reproduce or spread inside the bugs.
In the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Canadian experts said that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was found on bedbugs that were found on three people in a Vancouver hospital. Still, there have been no reports of the bugs directly spreading disease to people.
Myth 9: We should bring back DDT
Most bed bugs were already resistant to the controversial pesticide DDT when it was banned in 1972, according to Schal. A new class of pesticides has made them even more immune now. The main type of herbicides used today to kill bedbugs are pyrethroids. Like DDT, they work by attacking sodium channels in bedbug cells. As a result, bedbugs become less susceptible to pyrethroids, they also become less susceptible to DDT.
Myth 10: You can spray bedbugs away
Because pests are becoming resistant to chemicals, those spray cans from the hardware store won’t work, says Schal. “Relying only on chemicals is usually not a good solution.” Fumigation and heat treatments are the best ways to get rid of the bugs, but each one can cost up to $3,000 for a single-family home. Scientists are working hard to find other ways to do this, such as freezing and using food like that used for cockroaches.
Schal and his colleagues from the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a method in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology that uses cheap infrared and vibration sensors to track the movement of bedbugs. This method could be used to make automated traps that catch the bugs.