Bedbugs are parasitic arthropods from the family Cimicidae. They are typically less than 1 cm in length and reddish brown in color. Bedbugs can be found in furniture, floorboards, peeling paint, or other small spaces, most commonly in areas of clutter. These insects come out at night in search of prey upon which to feed, with peak feeding times just before dawn. Bedbugs are typically attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide, vibration, sweat, and odor. The image of a Cimex lectularius is shown courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Low toxicity contact sprays like SteriFab™ or Bedlam® are likely to kill bed bugs only on contact. Alcohol- and soap-based sprays, are only partly effective. All of these products, once dry, are likely to provide no further control. Eggs will not be killed by alcohol-based sprays, so repeat treatments are usually needed. Be careful when using sprays containing alcohol because they may be flammable.
It’s not likely that you’ll kill all the bed bugs with a bed bug spray. That’s where a residual powder insecticide comes into play. It kills any bugs that wander through the powder. Some powders can kill bugs for many years if left undisturbed. Skip the open areas and spray the powder in those places where you think they’ll be traveling to and from, like near bed legs and under baseboard trim.
Probably chiggers -- they are very small, red mites that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. To stop the itching, use OraJel (usually sold for teething babies), which contains benzocaine (an anesthetic). Also, rub in hydrocortisone cream. To prevent chigger bites, wear long pants and stuff the cuffs into your socks.
Do encasements work? Yes. When you put an encasement on your mattress or box spring you can lock bed bugs in and prevent new bed bugs from getting in. No chemical control is needed, so you don't have to worry about being poisoned by powders or some other toxin in your bed. The problem is that encasements by themselves, or when used with traps, are simply a bandaid. They are not likely to contain or stop a bed bug infestation. As mentioned above, this method can lead to the growth of an infestation and, ultimately, a prolonged and frustrating infestation.
Dusts have been used to ward off insects from grain storage for centuries, including plant ash, lime, dolomite, certain types of soil, and diatomaceous earth or Kieselguhr. Of these, diatomaceous earth in particular has seen a revival as a nontoxic (when in amorphous form) residual pesticide for bed bug abatement. While diatomaceous earth performed poorly, silica gel may be effective.
One bed bug will usually take more than one bite. Once a bed bug inserts its mouthparts and finds a suitable blood vessel, it will begin feeding. However, finding the right blood vessel may take more than one injection into the skin. In addition, bed bugs are very sensitive to movement by the host they are feeding on. Therefore, if a sleeping person moves, a feeding bed bug will probably withdraw its mouthparts and begin its search for a blood meal on another part of the body. It’s important to remember that the number of bites a person receives is not indicative of the number of bed bugs that feed on that person.
Wash the bites with soap and water. Wash the area with mild soap and water; use a bar of soap and enough water to wet surface of your hands. Work the soap in your hands into thick, soapy lather. Rub the lather over the affected area liberally. Repeat until the entire area is covered. Leave on and do not rinse. Allow the soap lather to dry over the bitten areas. You should experience immediate relief from itching.
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.)