Bedbug infestation has become the norm everywhere. All kinds of speculation are being spread about this particular pest, from the radio, newspapers, television, and the internet. The bedbug (Cimex lectularius), is an insect that feeds on human blood and other warm-blooded animals. Although they do not transmit any fatal diseases, their bites annoy people because they cause cutaneous manifestations (skin rashes), and anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction to an antigen, in this case, their bites). A bedbug infestation can cause adverse mental problems to the homeowners. For instance, they can cause anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, and emotional distress.
Bedbugs have the unquestionable ability to multiply fast. A female bug produces between 200-500 eggs in its lifetime. These insects have become a major public health challenge globally due to their rapid insurgence. Increased international travel and trade have directly been associated with their rise in their number. Several households have markedly applied distinct methods designed to eradicate the pests, most of which are conventional, but they have been unsuccessful due to the rise of the insecticide-resistant breed.
Therefore, this article will provide a detailed analysis of all you need to know about bedbugs and some of the approaches that can be employed in not only controlling but annihilating them.
The History of Bedbugs
Bedbugs have a long history that dates back to the ancient times when people used to live in caves. Human and bat blood was their primary food until man began building homes. As people moved from caves to homes, they also moved with them and made cracks of beds, walls, and floors their homes; hence named bedbugs, after their place of dwelling. These pests were and still are the most hated household insects. People in the ancient times believed that the gods used to send them as a form of punishment if they failed to follow instructions. Because having them in their beds was much uncomfortable, they devised methods of getting rid of them.
To solve the bedbug predicament, people used to throw out the infested items or sin worse situations burn them. But this only spread the problems since the insects fell off and crawled to hidings on transit. On the other hand, rich people had slaves and servants who could change beddings and clean homes daily. This reduced the number and suppressed infestation in their homes while the poor could suffer. Thus, the primary control mechanisms during this period were sanitation and exclusion. These pests have continued being a challenge since then.
There was a 19th-century case of England whereby in the late 1930s, more than half of the 8 million residents in the country reported having bedbugs in their homes. The insects were a nuisance that even extermination was arduous as well as risky to people as to pests. Not only was the task herculean to England, but also to America and other countries around the world. During the Second World War, most US barracks were infested, and this led to the availability of DDT, a chlorinated hydrocarbon, which was used as an effective spray for years.
DDT was banned in the 70s, culminating the introduction of organophosphates or carbonates that could kill bedbugs for more than 8 weeks long after they were applied. The chemicals were useful in the 90s but the beginning of the year 2000, everything changed. People often traveled across the globe carrying the bugs unknowingly from one location to the other. Back in the cities, like Pulau Ujong, those looking to save money, such as students and squatters, would use discarded furniture and mattresses not knowing that they were infested with bedbugs.
The Biology of Bedbugs
An adult bedbug is oval and dorsoventrally flat with short wing pads. They have a three-segment beak that they use to feed on mammals (human, birds, and bats). They have a pair of compound eyes, and their bodies are usually covered with short golden hairs. The vestiges, in the form of wing pads, are found on the thorax albeit the wings are non-functional so the insect can’t fly. The lower segment contains the digestion and the reproductive system.
The male penis is at the tip, so males have a more pointed end as compared to females. The male pierces the female’s cuticle with its needle sharp male organ and injects semen through the wound. When the female gets pregnant, it lays eggs in their hiding places. The eggs are normally a millimeter long, and for a female to produce more than 200 eggs in its lifetime, it needs to lay 3-5 eggs per day. Eggs hatch 1-1.5 millimeter nymphs in 6-17 days, which are usually ready to feed. Bedbugs take around 21 days to grow from a nymph to an adult. Bugs live in mattresses or sofas occupied by people or 15 foot from them. They can survive a year without feeding. They can take 6 times their weight while feeding and this can last 3 to 10 minutes.
A Guide to Prevention
Prevention requires absolute vigilance. It’s advisable to be always aware of your surroundings to avoid accidentally picking these insects. Always examine the seats while using public transport and check yourself and your bags once again after alighting to avoid carrying them. This applies to restaurants, clubs, theaters, and gym lockers. Use bedbug trappers on your bed and take off bed sheets that make contact with the floor. Create a safe zone in the house to place your belongings immediately after arriving at your home. This also applies to visitors, deliveries, and foreign pets, although we might want to be courteous to them, we also need to protect our homes, since they too can carry bugs.
A Guide to Treatments and Extermination
Since Singapore is not immune, the common species found in the isles are Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterous. Treatment comes into play once you are sure that bedbugs have infested your home. Treatment may involve hot water cleaning of bedding, linen, & curtains, vacuuming of beds, and getting rid of clutter around your bed. Extermination entails the use of effective chemicals to kills the pests.