Probably it doesn’t bother you at all when you hear about the cimex lectularius while you get the wrong jitters with the word bedbug. However, they are the same creatures and no one wants these parasites around them. These annoying creatures, which barely grow bigger than half a centimetre, used to be popularly called wall lice. However, this name does not suit the animal because even though it is not much bigger than a bedbug and bites equally viciously, it is not a louse at all.
It owes its name bedbug to the fact that they occur in and around the bed. And even though it was believed with great certainty that these nasty parasites had disappeared over the years, nothing could be further from the truth. Especially in America, but also more and more in Europe, the animals have started their advance again, with all the consequences that entails. What are bedbug symptoms and how can you fight them? After reading this article the bedbug has no more secrets for you.
– What does the bedbug look like?
– How do you get bedbugs?
– When do you have bedbug symptoms
– How to treat a bite of the bedbug
Species of bedbugs
Apart from the most common species, the cimex lectularius, there are other species but these are very rare in Europe. In western Africa and South America it is the cimex hemipterus that does the service. They, and some of the species that live there, live on the blood not only of humans but also of bats. Often predatory bugs, whose habitat is also in the West and live on human blood, are confused with the bedbug. The biggest, and important, difference between predatory bugs and bedbugs is that the former can transmit diseases, not the latter.
What does the bedbug look like?
A fully-grown bedbug can grow up to 80 millimetres, has an oval body that in some specimens is almost round and they are flat. They have no wings and their small legs cannot handle distances of more than 30 metres. The colour depends on the moment. When they have just eaten blood they are red and have a swollen abdomen. When they haven’t eaten for a longer period of time the body turns red-brown. If the temperature of their habitat is between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius, they can easily survive six months without eating. If the thermometer dives below 15°, they start their hibernation and, even if it freezes for a long time, from the moment the temperature has risen again to more than 15°, they come back to life.
How do you get bedbugs?
Are you relieved because, after a thorough inspection of your bed, you didn’t find any bedbugs? Know that they are not only to be found there. Every crack, crack or hole in the walls and floors of your bedroom is a potential hiding place for these troublesome customers. Often they enter your house uninvited with the luggage you brought in from an exotic country, hidden in second-hand wooden furniture. Smooth surfaces are the least attractive as a refuge but wood and fabric, such as rugs and clothes, are their favourite habitats.
When you go on holiday, it is a good idea to check the hotel room for bedbugs. Also, when you come home after a sunny holiday, you should carefully check your luggage for uninvited imported and annoying guests. If you notice that you are visiting an entire colony, you can call in the municipal service for the removal of these parasites.
When do you have bedbug symptoms
Blood-sucking creatures always leave traces and this is no different for the bedbug. Their favourite feeding spots are mainly on the upper body but the rest of your body is not safe either. The painless bites don’t get you out of sleep but can cause itchy bumps or, at worst, bedbug stretch marks. These straps usually have a zigzag pattern. Especially if you have an allergic reaction to the bite, which is usually caused by the anaesthetic saliva, the lumps can be larger and itchy.
Small blood stains on the bedding or reddish-brown stains on the faeces also indicate the presence of unwanted bed guests. Bedbug symptoms can also be worse in some cases, especially when you scratch open the bumps and an inflammation develops.
How to treat a bite of the bedbug
After a bite, the symptoms usually disappear after a week or two. When the bite or bites start itching so much that you almost go crazy, you can ask your doctor for a soothing cream. Be careful with cortisone products because even though they are effective against itching, they have the property of thinning the skin. There are good alternatives on the market that can help soothe itching or pain. If the bites become inflamed, it is advisable to consult a general practitioner anyway.