Regular, itchy bite marks that don’t go away for days. Cleaning and order are in vain. Bed bugs are one of the human parasites that cause the most unpleasant problem in Hungary today.
The bed bug
The bed bug is thought to have originated in the Middle East, but there are hundreds of different species of bedbugs in Hungary, including the larger, well-known field bug and its tiny, but even more troublesome relative, the bed bug. The bed bug is a tiny insect that has evolved into a parasitic lifestyle: it feeds mainly on the blood of birds and humans when its victim is at rest, at night. The bed bug originates from the Middle East, but today it is a widespread, annoying parasite that can probably cause problems in every big city.
What do bed bugs look like?
The bed bug is a relatively small insect, 5-7 mm in size, brown in color and covered with fine hairs. Many people think that it is not so difficult to spot a half-centimeter or even larger insect in the bedclothes with the naked eye, but this is not true, because bed bugs are very clever at hiding from the uninitiated. The cunning bed bug hides around the bed during the day, in the folds of the mattress, in the cracks of the bed or under the sheets, but it can even wait behind the bed until its late dinner comes out.
Compared to the size of the bed bug, it is a particularly nimble and hardy animal. The reason it is so difficult to get rid of them is because mature specimens can live up to 18 months and tolerate food deprivation very well. The newly hatched, young bed bug specimens are barely 1 mm in size, they need to get blood quickly to stay alive, but the adult bed bug is “patient” and can withstand up to 6 months without food. The presence of bed bugs becomes visible when the insects have been living with us for some time: dead bed bug corpses and brown dots of bed bug excrement will become visible on the bedding after a while – but this also requires that we do not change the bedding for a long time.
When do bed bugs appear?
The bed bug is basically a nocturnal creature, so it attacks its resting victim at night. The bed bug avoids light, but if it hasn’t had food in a long time, it ventures out even in the light when it senses the proximity of a human body.
Bed bug bite pictures: what does a bed bug bite look like?
The bed bug attacks undisturbed under the cover of night: it looks for a thin skin surface to drain a vein, but it doesn’t always find the right area the first time – that’s why we find 4-6 red bites next to each other. The bed bug can try for up to half an hour, its sleeping victim does not notice the stings because it does it as unnoticed as mosquitoes. Bed bug bites appear in the morning, when red spots resembling hives appear on larger areas of the body, most often on the neck, back and limbs.
Unlike many other parasites, bed bug bites do not spread diseases, but bed bug saliva and feces discharged near the wound cause an allergic reaction in many people, which is why a bed bug bite can itch for up to a week. If bed bugs multiply a lot in our beds and we don’t do anything about them, we can collect hundreds of bites in one night!
How are bed bugs spread?
Bed bugs like warm places and need the proximity of people and domestic animals (bed bugs often raise their heads in hen houses, for example). Bed bugs are common inhabitants of big cities: if they somehow get into an apartment (they can easily be found, for example, between the seats of public transport), the infection can easily spread to the neighbors. You can bring it in with an heirloom piece of furniture, an antiquarian book, or a gift teddy bear. Bed bugs can also spread from one apartment to another within an apartment block (especially in panel buildings) along the pipelines, through gaps and crevices, and when the cables are broken. Bed bugs can enter the ventilation system just like cockroaches or ants, but they can also move from one home to another through pipes and wall cracks.
In densely populated areas, for example in densely populated cities, it can also be spread by the person himself, mostly when moving, less often through clothing. If you move to a new apartment or sublet, it is worth looking around the bed to see if you find traces of bed bugs. We can also collect them on vacation, in hotels and guesthouses, but buying used furniture is also risky from the point of view of the danger of bed bugs.
Does the work of the exterminator help against bed bugs?
Unfortunately not. Condo extermination is aimed at cockroaches and typically not bed bugs hiding in the bedroom. Although the spraying agent also works against bed bugs, cockroaches should be exterminated primarily in wet areas. You have to protect yourself against bed bugs in the bedroom, it is a process that requires orders of magnitude more thorough work than the usual strip spraying work of cockroach extermination.
What can we do against bed bugs?
It is difficult to protect against bed bugs, but it is definitely worth a try if we take matters into our own hands first. If you notice traces of bed bugs, the first thing to do is pull off the bedclothes, and then wash them immediately at a minimum temperature of 60° (this also answers the question at what temperature do bed bugs die). Place the pillows and blankets in the covers in a safe place, because bed bugs do not hide inside the duvets and pillows. Treat the entire bed with bed bug repellent: spray every little corner where bed bugs can hide, including the cracks around the bed, the joints of the bed, and even the screws.
The treatment is repeated every few days, as the chemicals against bed bugs do not affect the eggs! Eliminating bed bugs at home is a very difficult and lengthy task; if we don’t want to deal with it, or if we can’t eliminate the problem even after several attempts, we should definitely call a professional who will professionally carry out the extermination of insects in our home!
Bed bug elimination using a bed bug trap
The bed bug trap can be used at home without professional help, but it only works if the bed bug infestation is still in the initial stage, and the insects have not multiplied too much. If there are many bed bugs, the bed bug trap based on the simple adhesive principle cannot capture all individuals, we have to resort to a chemical solution.
Where can I buy a bed bug trap?
You can get anti-bed bug products, such as bed bug spray or traps, at any pest control store, home improvement store, or drugstore.
In Hungary, you can find bed bug repellants in drugstores (Rossmann, DM) but also in the chemical section of larger grocery stores (Interspar).
Search these products:
What should we not do against bed bugs?
If you notice suspicious bed bug bites on yourself and you have made sure that there really are bed bugs in the apartment, do not panic, because there is no point! The presence of bed bugs is unpleasant, but not dangerous, however, if possible, we should avoid hosting guests for a while, so that some insects don’t stick to our clothes and move on.
Many people, under the influence of panic, tend to exacerbate the problem instead of eliminating it. In the event of a bed bug infestation, you should not disassemble the bed or rearrange the room, this will only disperse the insects in the apartment. Treat everything around the bed thoroughly and don’t throw anything away, because, after the bed bug and a thorough wash, everything will be back to the old one. It is also a misconception that baking soda can be effective against bed bugs – since bed bugs consume human blood, there is no need to try this solution because they will not eat it.
Treatment of bed bug bites at home
Other common and important questions regarding bed bugs are when bed bug bites occur and how to treat bed bug bites at home or with medical preparations. Well, the bed bug bite occurs in a similar way to the mechanism of a mosquito bite: as soon as the night-feeding insect finds the skin surface, it injects its anti-coagulant saliva into the puncture wound – this causes the itchy sting, which we rarely wake up to, but in the morning it can cause a big surprise for the bed bug bites covering our torso and limbs.
Special bed bug bite cream is not really available in stores, but there is no reason to worry: we can protect ourselves against bed bug bites in the same way as mosquito bites. Buy any over-the-counter cream against skin irritation or insect bites at the pharmacy, and among the herbs, use the skin-soothing marigold cream if your goal is to treat bed bug bites at home.
When do bed bug bites go away?
Bed bug bites usually go away on their own in a few days – from this point of view, we have to deal with them in a similar way to mosquito bites. In some cases, if the bed bug bite has caused an allergic reaction in us, or if the bed bug bite has been scratched (typically in children), there may be a super-infection of the bed bug bite, for which it is advisable to use a wound disinfectant. If you develop symptoms more severe than a local skin reaction, be sure to ask your family doctor or a dermatologist for advice!