How Do Bed Bugs Work?

These insects live in your bedroom, drink your blood and stain your sheets. How do you get rid of them?

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You’ve just woken up. Something smells musty and sweet… When you open your eyes your bed has a trail of molted insect shells, rust-colored stains and… tiny smears of excrement. Ugh. Just saying that makes me itchy. So imagine actually finding these traces of bed bugs in your home!

We thought these little vampires were taken care of after we bombed them with DDT in the 1950s. But they’re back! DDT is a potent chemical insecticide. And DDT was outlawed in 1972, so we can’t nuke them from orbit just to be sure. So… arm yourself with knowledge, because here’s what bed bugs are, where they live and how to get rid of them.

The official name for bedbugs is Cimex Lectularius and they’re parasites that feed off their sleeping hosts’ blood. The largest they get is only a quarter of an inch. And they’re flat, so they’re easy to miss. They’re brownish and wingless, with 6 shiny legs. And they use their syringe-like mouth beaks to pierce your skin and suck your blood.

Unlike Nosferatu, these guys rarely wake their victims while feeding and can even take 3-10 minutes to gorge on your blood. While drinking, they release their own saliva into your broken skin, which can eventually cause an allergic reaction.

Luckily, they don’t spread disease. But the bites can swell and itch, except for 30% of people who have no reaction to these bugs at all. Still, they probably won’t drain you dry. It actually takes 100,000 bed bugs feeding on you at least once a week to make you anemic.

Let’s put one misconception to rest though: bed bugs aren’t a sign of poor hygiene. Even immaculate mansions can get them. It only takes one to ride on in and infect your whole home. The messier the domicile, the more places they have to hide.

Here’s a short list of spots they can conceal themselves: sofa seams, bed frame cracks, torn wallpaper, backpacks, light switches, televisions, clocks, phones, rugs, baseboards, curtains, clothing, towels, or even… pillows. Basically anywhere dark and protected is up for grabs.

One way to tell you’ve got them is from the coriander-like odor they release when they’re alarmed. The worst part is they can live up to a year without eating. So even if you move into a vacant residence, they could still be there… waiting.

So then… how do we kill them? Well, like with any vampire you should hire a professional. They must be EXTERMINATED. To successfully eradicate them sometimes takes up to four different treatments, like dry ice sprays, steam, vacuuming, fumigation and insecticides. Sustained exposure to temperatures over 120 degree Fahrenheit will also kill them. Which is why you’ll need to wash all your linens and blast them inside a hot dryer.

And remember what I said about messy clutter? Yeah, you’ve got to clean all that up so they won’t have any place to hide again. Some people also use plastic encasings around their mattress, box spring and pillows to keep them from returning.


25 thoughts on “How Do Bed Bugs Work?”

  1. Coriander? Don’t you lovely American folk say cilantro anymore? I always
    wondered why those two words meant the same thing anyway :P

  2. A YEAR without eating? I heard 2 weeks. They also can’t take UV light, so
    if you hit them with the sun or a UV lamp they vampire out and explode
    inside and die.

    You can save things like sleeping bags and blankets if you toss them in the
    dryer for a couple cycles. The heat kills them all.

  3. I have never experienced being plagued with bed bugs, but one creepy crawly
    inside homes I cannot stand is silverfish. *shivers* Nothing ruins a bath
    more than seeing a silverfish in the tub or along the wall. Ish!

  4. I had them all last spring/ summer and it was the worst couple months of my
    life. At first I thought it was something topical giving me those nasty
    rashes bcuz I was the only one in my house getting them and I thought they
    were hives initially . It wasn’t until I ask some one (begrudgingly ) what
    this could be. I was skeptical and gross out at first but I eventually
    owned up to the fact that these little shits had invaded my home. Ugh even
    tHinking back to it now make my skin crawl. I did get rid of them only
    after they got to the rest of my house. We couldn’t afford an exterminator
    so we had to do it the hard way. Elbow grease. We tore out all the carpet,
    got new furniture and sprinkled and sprayed bug killer wherever we could.
    Finally after months and months of resurfacing, they were gone. Ugh! Gross.
    Side note; I was not aware they gave off a smell. I keep that in mind for
    future reference. Thank for this video even tho I made me shudder. 

  5. Bed bugs are hell. If you think roaches are bad, you have never dealt with
    beg bugs. I was forced to live in an apartment that was absolutely infested
    with bed bugs. I was continuously bit by the little fuckers every single
    night. My arms were covered in scabs and red spots from where bed bugs bit
    me. I still have scars all over my arms from them. We tried so many
    different things to try to get rid of them, but nothing seemed to work lol.
    Eventually, and thankfully, we moved out from that apartment.

  6. I’ve had them before. It was one of the most traumatizing things i’ve ever
    gone through, honestly. My building had them but then accused me of
    bringing them in and making me pay $250 to exterminate them. It worked
    though. I ended up finding their “nest” in my suitcase. I can’t believe i
    even got through this video. I probably wouldn’t wish bed bugs on my worst
    enemy. They are such a pain to get rid of and can always come back. And it
    doesn’t matter how clean you are because they’re out for blood, not food
    I tried vacuuming every inch of my apt and throwing things away & setting
    off those little bed bug-killing bomb things. They did nothing. I tried
    D/earth powder, didn’t work either. What does work, is rubbing alcohol. It
    kills them on contact.

  7. Tell anyone you knwo that Diatomaceous Tierra Diatomacea-works great! just
    have to get it where they are close to. Not harmful to pets or humans but
    kills them, sadly-I found out the bedbug way…!

  8. #Bedbugs can live in your bedroom, drink your blood and stain your sheets.
    How do you get rid of them? Lauren explains in this +BrainStuff –
    HowStuffWorks video. Is anyone else feeling itchy now?

  9. My experience with the lil fucks is they smell the most if you kill them
    with a full stomach. To me it smells of W-D40 and sport scent. I wonder if
    different folks blood produces different aromas.Mmmm…

  10. When i was little we had a flee problem, as soon as you stepped on the
    carpet you could feel them jumping onto your bare legs in groups. Not even
    bombing them worked.

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