Bed bugs are parasites that feed primarily feed on human blood. They are called as such because of their preferred habitat which is commonly under the mattress. They can however, be found in other areas as well such as couches, cracks on floors and walls, carpets and other places where people usually lounge or sleep.
How Big is a Bed Bug?
Bed bugs are relatively small insects growing up to only about four to five millimeters long and about one and a half up to three millimeters wide. These are flightless insects that have a mixture of brown and red color. They appear round and flat.
These bloodsucking insects, similar to the size of an apple seed, have been known to feed on human blood for thousands of years. Although they are not nocturnal by nature, they however become very active in the nighttime; preying on hosts that are fast asleep.
Since bed bug bites do not appear immediately after being bitten, people may not readily know that their home is infested with these bugs. Bed bug bites usually appear about nine days after being bitten.
The bites appear as red bumps on the skin and are usually itchy as a reaction to the enzymes injected through the skin when the bugs are feeding.
How Bed Bugs Feed
As mentioned, bed bugs usually feed at night when the hosts are fast asleep. Perhaps this makes feeding easier as the hosts are unwitting victims and they do not move or stir as feeding takes place.
When a beg bug is ready to feed, it pierces the skin with two long tubes: one for injecting the enzymes that will serve as anticoagulants and the other for extracting blood from the host.
It normally takes about 5 to 10 minutes of feeding before a bed bug becomes fully satiated and engorged.
While these bugs can survive without feeding for one year, if they do find a host, they will feed every 5 to 10 days or so.
Effects of Bed Bug Bites
The most common effect of a bed bug bite is the appearance of red welts on the skin where the bed bugs fed on. They bite exposed areas such as the neck, face, arms and legs.
While itching and pain are common, people who have no allergies to the enzymes and saliva injected by the bugs will not feel any of these symptoms. It is very important that persons who have been bitten avoid scratching the welts to avoid further aggravating the condition.
Using topical creams and lotions as well as taking anti-allergy medications are usually prescribed for those who feel excessive discomfort and pain due to the bites.