After returning from your two-week summer vacation, you can’t wait to have a good night’s rest in your own bed. Your first night back, you enjoy the sleep of the Gods, long and interrupted like Al Pacino’s stirring speech in Any Given Sunday.
Waking up the next day, you’re horrified to discover red welts covering your arms. They look like a teenager’s face, breaking out in little red bumps.
Somehow, someway, bed bugs have gotten into your home. But you haven’t been there for a fortnight – how did they find their way into your bed?
There’s only one logical conclusion, you decide: they flew back home from vacation with you. Probably right beside the plane, Superman style.
A lot of people assume bed bugs can fly due to their uncanny ability to seemingly spring up anywhere. Hotels are notorious for housing bed bugs, which only encourages the buzz that bed bugs can fly.
That’s a myth, and one of many when it comes to misinformation about bed bugs. Spreading as fast as bed bug infestations do, these myths make bed bugs more menacing and Dracula-y than they really are.
So what’s true and what’s false when it comes to bed bug ‘facts’? We’ll break down bed bug myths that’re accepted as bed bug facts, so you won’t look like a crazy person rambling on about flying bed bugs ever again.
Myth #1: Bed Bugs Have Wings…and Can Fly.
We repeat: bed bugs can’t fly. They don’t have wings, which sort of disqualifies them from any flight-related shenanigans.
The only way you’ll see a bed bug fly is propping a blow dryer behind it for some air assistance. Yes, someone – Stephen Kells, a bed bug researcher from the University of Minnesota – tested this, because why not. He found blow dry-aided ‘flying’ bed bugs can shoot 1.2 metres forward.
Without air support, bed bugs are regulated to the ground, where they crawl an embarrassing meter a minute.
Myth #2: Bed Bugs Can Live Up to a Year, Sans Food.
This is still a hotly debated fact/myth with these household pests. Answers have ranged from a few weeks to 12 months.
The best response is the classic cop out: it depends. Newly hatched bed bugs, called nymphs, need to feed more regularly as they mature. Adult bed bugs can last longer, but it’s dependent on the climate they find themselves in.
In warmer conditions, bed bugs can last two to three months without a blood meal. Being cold-blooded, their metabolism slows down when it gets chillier, allowing them to live without food for greater stretches. Some scientists are adamant the household pests can live the calendar year sans food, but the bed bugs’ living situation would need to be absolutely optimal.
Myth #3: Bed Bugs Fear the Light.
Continuing to stomp the Dracula comparisons out, bed bugs don’t melt in the light. They have no problem coming out in the daytime, they’re just smart enough not to. They know being in the open leaves them vulnerable, so they’re intelligent in hiding in crevices and cracks until they can exploit the cover of night.
Like humans, they eat then they’re hungry, so they won’t be shy about making a daytime appearance if hunger kicks in at that time.
So unfortunately for you, keeping the lights on as deterrent won’t stop bed bugs from saying hello.
Myth #4: Bed Bugs Can Pass On Diseases.
Anxiety, restlessness, and allergic reactions can result from bed bugs. But in terms of contracting a disease a bed bug may be carrying, there have been no reported cases of disease transmitted to a human via bed bug carrier.
They can harbour human pathogens – viruses, bacteria, protozoa – but the microbes don’t reproduce in the bed bugs. And even still, these have yet to be passed on to any human to date.
The only medical concern when it comes to bed bug bites are secondary ailments, such as bleeding if the bites aren’t treated.
Myth #5: Sprays are Effective to Get Rid of Bed Bugs.
Bed bugs are notoriously resistant to pesticides. They’ve been exposed to them so much, there are now mutations of ‘super’ bed bugs that are virtually unaffected by any form of pesticide (we wrote a blog about it, in fact). These natural survivors have quickly adapted to any form of extermination, especially chemically-based ones.
So if you think your trusty spray bottle of bed bug antidote will foil robust bed bug infestations, think again. To get rid of bed bugs from your home for good, you’ll likely need pest control services, especially those with access to heat treatments. These have proven to be the most successful (and ecological) approaches to bed bug control.
Oh, and don’t try removing them with a blow dryer, unless your home is less than 1.2 metres wide.
Even though bed bugs can’t fly or pass on disease, they’re still a real threat in your home. They take a toll on your family’s well-being, never having the peace of mind that you’re alone when sitting on the couch or going to bed.
For efficient pest control services, contact Magical Pest’s Bed Bug Control Division to learn more about our removal options, including highly-effective heat treatments.