In the pest control industry, we become aware of many of the myths that are circulating in regards to bedbugs. While some myths are dependent on additional factors, many are strictly unfounded rumors that contribute to the fears and anxiety that tend to go along with ‘bedbugs’. Here are a few of the most common myths we encounter:
Bedbugs live only on mattresses – Their name is in fact very misleading and if they were in fact exclusive to living in beds and mattresses, treatment would likely simply be the disposal of the mattress. Instead, bedbugs can be found in dresser drawers, nightstands, bed frames, couches and other living room furniture, buses, trains, planes and even movie theaters. Personal items such as purses, backpacks, suitcases and shoes are also potential bedbug hideouts.
Bedbugs transmit disease – While they are known to harbor approximately 27 human pathogens including: viruses, protozoa, and bacteria. Thankfully these pathogens do not reproduce within the insects. Research in recent years in Canada found that bedbugs isolated from 3 individuals in a hospital there carried MRSA; however, there are still no confirmed reports that the bedbugs are transmitting human diseases.
Bedbugs can fly – Although bedbugs have wing pads, they do not have actual wings and therefore cannot fly. Bedbugs also do not jump. They only crawl at approximately 1 meter per minute.
Bedbugs reproduce quickly – In comparison to other insects, bed bugs are actually fairly slow to reproduce. Adult females produce about two to five eggs at a time and only about 200 in her lifetime. Eggs have an average hatching time of roughly 10 days. Then it is another several weeks for the nymph to mature into an adult, which is why when an infestation is first introduced that it can take time to see evidence of the infestation being present. Of course, the rate at which an infestation increases is going to depend on how many bedbugs were introduced at the time of exposure. Bringing in furniture that is already infested with bedbugs is going to obviously result in a much more rapid increase in activity whereas one or two eggs or bedbugs accidently transferred on a backpack or luggage will result in a slower increase in activity.
Bedbugs tend towards unsanitary conditions – Although infestations in unsanitary conditions will be more difficult to treat and therefore may result in higher levels of infestation, bedbugs have no preference as to the conditions in which they live as long as there is a blood meal nearby. Another assumption is that lower income neighborhoods are more likely to have bedbugs. This is not necessarily a result of sanitary conditions; it is more likely a result of the fact that bedbug infestations are a lengthy and expensive treatment process.
Leaving a light on will stop bedbugs from biting because they only bite at night – While a majority of activity and feeding does take place at night, bedbugs will feed during the day if they are hungry. This is especially true of bedbugs that have been deprived of a blood meal for a period of time.
Bedbugs travel on their human host – Unlike ticks and lice, bedbugs do not live on or attach themselves to their human host. Bedbugs prefer to travel on backpacks, luggage, shoes and other items rather on their overly warm human host. Bedbugs would rather use the feed and leave method of obtaining blood from their host.
Bedbugs can live a year without a blood meal – This myth has some truth to it. Yes, in the right environmental conditions bedbugs can in fact live up to a year without feeding. A majority of the time however, bedbugs at normal room temperature are living approximately two to three months without a meal based on evidence from scientists.