Updated: 8/7/2019

If just the thought of bedbugs makes your skin itch and crawl, you are not alone. These little parasites can hide out in bed frames, mattresses, headboards, and the box springs of beds. They survive by feeding on blood and are known to nibble on unsuspecting sleepers at night. Bedbug bites leave behind itchy red bumps that may be clustered together in affected areas of the body. These pesky critters tend to inhabit places such as hotel rooms, libraries, camps, offices, or shelters. These are places that are crowded or have revolving occupancy. When it comes to bedbugs, many myths exist. To sort fact from fiction, read on and learn about several falsehoods for which bedbugs, or the people who suffer from them, take a bad rap.

10. Myth: Bedbugs Only Live in Dirty, Shabby Places

Bedbugs Live

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) don’t care if you are rich or poor, or whether you clean your home frequently or rarely. If they are able to find a way into your home, they will take advantage of the situation. Even the finest hotels can fall victim to bedbug infestation if the critters are carried in with the luggage of guests. One reason shabbier hotels or apartment buildings may be more likely to harbor bedbugs is due to the expense of treating and eliminating the infestation.

9. Myth: Bedbugs Are Too Small to Be Seen

Bedbugs Too Small

These sneaky pests can be difficult to spot since they prefer to stay hidden from sight. However, they are not microscopic. The typical adult bedbug is a brown-colored creature about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, the bug may balloon up in size and appear reddish-brown in color. Younger bed bugs are more difficult to spot, as they are smaller and can be translucent. The eggs of bedbugs are about the size of the head of a pin and are white in color. In addition to being visible to the naked eye, bedbugs may also be detected by the musty odor they produce.

8. Myth: Bedbugs Spread Illness

Bedbugs Spread Illness

While the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both consider bedbugs to be public health pests, these bugs do not transmit diseases. The negative effects on public health are due to the reactions to the bug bites. Some individuals do not have any type of reaction to bedbug bites. However, others may experience uncomfortable or even severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Bedbug bites that become infected can develop into other secondary skin infections such as impetigo. Lastly, bedbugs can cause anxiety and depression for those living in infested homes or buildings because of the difficulty involved in getting rid of them.

7. Myth: Bedbugs Are Strictly Nocturnal

Bedbugs Nocturnal

The fact that bedbugs tend to bite at night may lead you to believe that these are strictly nocturnal creatures. However, bedbugs can also be active during the daytime. Bedbugs will feast whenever they find a food source. Daytime nappers are just as likely to experience irritating bedbug bites as those who keep normal sleeping hours. The same is true for individuals who work the night shift and sleep during the daytime. Sleeping with the lights on will not afford protection against bedbugs, as they are just as willing to feast in bright light as in darkness.

6. Myth: Bedbugs Can Fly

Bedbugs Can Fly

Bedbugs are speedy little creatures that can scurry along at a rate of three feet per minute, but they are not able to fly. According to Orkin, bedbugs have flat, oval bodies that do not contain wings. While the adults have small traces of wing-like material called wing pads, these pads never develop into the wings that would allow flight. Likewise, bedbugs are not able to jump from one surface to another. They must use their legs to hurriedly scuttle from one area to another.

Related: 12 Creepy Critters You Don’t Want to Bug You This Summer

5. Myth: Bedbugs Can Go Without a Meal for One Year

Bedbugs Can Live

According to Terminix, newly hatched bedbugs can last for several weeks without a meal. Adult bedbugs prefer to feed every three to seven days. However, in warm conditions, they can make it as long as five months without feeding. The University of California notes that bedbugs have lived up to 400 days in the cold temperatures of a laboratory, but it is unclear whether these conditions are replicated in everyday life.

4. Myth: Bedbugs Reproduce Quickly

Bedbugs Reproduce

If you are waking up each morning to multiple itchy bedbug bites, it may seem that the little creatures are reproducing at a terrific speed. However, bedbugs actually reproduce at a slower rate than many other insects. A female bedbug will lay 200-250 eggs in her lifetime. These eggs will hatch into nymphs in approximately 6-10 days, and then molt five times before reaching adulthood. In general, the typical bedbug lives for around two to four months.

Related: Beware of the Kissing Bug

3. Myth: Bedbugs Live Only in Beds

Bedbugs Live Only Bed

Bedbugs have discovered that beds are great places to find slumbering hosts on which to feed. However, beds are not the only places these critters can be found. Bedbugs are perfectly capable of living happily in suitcases or backpacks during transportation from one home to another. They are able to make their way through vents from one apartment or room into another. Bedbugs may also reside not only in mattresses, but also in cracks or crevices of nearby furniture. Furthermore, bedbugs can take up residence in curtains, draperies, and outlet covers.

2. Myth: Bedbugs Attach Themselves to Humans

Bedbugs Attach

While bedbugs enjoy latching onto humans during feedings, they do not take up residence on human skin or hair. Unlike other public health pests such as wood ticks, fleas, or head lice, bedbugs do not settle in to live on a human host. A bedbug will finish a meal in just minutes, and then scurry off to hide. Since they prefer hiding in small, cozy spots, they may scuttle off to hide in a suitcase or briefcase, and then catch a ride to a new destination.

1. Myth: I Can Eliminate Bedbugs on My Own

Eliminate Bedbugs

You may find household products on the market that claim to help eradicate bedbugs. However, it can take several weeks or months to completely eradicate a bedbug problem. To truly eliminate these creatures, professional treatment is the best choice. Orkin offers a three-step process for dealing with a bedbug infestation. The first step involves an assessment of the situation to determine the extent of possible infestation. Step two involves setting up and implementing a treatment plan that meets the specific characteristics of a particular infestation. The third step requires monitoring the effectiveness of the treatment and taking steps to prevent reinfestation.

Related: Hotels and Beg Bugs: How to Stay Pest-Free


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