Most people alive today are amazed when they first hear that bed bugs are back. The vast majority of us have had no previous exposure to bed bugs and we care little to know about them. But unfortunately, bed bugs are back and they are becoming quite a nuisance. Bed bugs are very hard to get rid of once they infest a home or business and they are quite emotionally disturbing to people since they drink our blood when we sleep.
Unlike Dracula, bed bugs are not some romantic vampire out of a Bram Stoker Novel. They are annoying little insects of the Cimicidae family and it is primarily the species Cimex lectularius that plagues the sleep of humans. They feed on the blood of warm-blooded creatures and their feeding habits are almost entirely nocturnal due to their sensitivity to heat and light. Bed bugs live in colonies in cracks, under mattresses, in drawers, in pet bedding, in furniture and even behind picture frames and wait until the dark hours of about 4:00 am to come out and feed on sleeping victims. No one is immune. They will feed on adult humans, children and even on your household pets.
Bed bugs have been with us since our earliest history
They are thought to have originated in the Middle East in prehistoric times when humans beings still lived in caves in close proximity to bats and other small, warm blooded creatures. They are well adapted for survival and can live for up to a year without feeding, This particular ability makes it possible for bed bugs to travel for weeks at a time without feeding and they use it to great advantage to spread their species to every corner of the globe. Bed bugs are the ultimate freeloader and our modern world, with its vastly interconnected transportation network, has made their job of propagation of their species so much easier.
Throughout our history bed bugs have reared their ugly little heads. They were there to ruin the dreams of the workers who built the ancient pyramids. Bed bugs have been the bane of soldiers in their camps during just about every great military campaign down through the ages. Bedbugs were mentioned in the writings of the great philosopher, Aristotle. Bed bugs were suggested as a cure for ear infections and snake bites by Pliny in his “Natural History”, first published circa 77 C.E.. They infested the City of London after the great fire of 1666 by hiding in the lumber that was imported to rebuild the destroyed city. They traveled west on the wagon trains of the families that civilized the great western lands of the United States.
Bed bugs fed at will and without much intervention by man until the end of World War II, when the pesticide DDT was discovered. This new pesticide was so effective at killing bed bugs that they all but vanished from the modern world by the mid 1950′s. They disappeared from our homes and our collective consciousness and we dreamed peacefully without so much as a tiny nip from a bed bug bite. But human beings couldn’t leave well enough alone and the environmental movement, in all it’s irrational zeal to return the human race to the lifestyle of the 18th century, was finally able to get DDT banned across the globe.
By the end of the 20th century, DDT was no longer allowed to be used and with this ban came the return of two great plagues. One lethal, was the return of Malaria which was once again able to rear its deadly head in poorer nations that couldn’t afford to use the much more expensive alternatives to DDT. The other, not lethal but certainly disturbing, was the resurgence of the long-dormant plague of bed bugs, who once again returned to feast on the human race.
Now bed bugs are back and their effect is being felt across the globe
Homes, hotels, movie theaters, nursing homes, sports arena and even restaurants are being infested. Any place where humans sleep or sit and where there is a nice dark place to hide, bed bugs are being found. They are having a major effect on the economy, as it can cost up to $1000 a room to have a professional pest control specialist get rid of your bed bugs. A good sized hotel with an attached casino in Las Vegas spent well over a million dollars to get rid of a bed bug infestation and that didn’t include all the lost revenues when the hotel was closed for 2 weeks during the cleanup.
Once upon a time bed bugs had cute nick names like wall louse, mahogany flat, crimson rambler, heavy dragoon, chinche and redcoat. Some of these nick names have interesting histories behind them and you may be inspired to do your own research to find out the story. But there is nothing cute about bed bugs. They are an absolutely annoying insect with the potential to disrupt your life and cost you a good amount of hard earned cash. Now that you know a little about their history and behavior, you should take the next step and learn all you can about how to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home.