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5 Bed bug myths you should not believe

BY Kevin Klinger

1st Nov 2023 Health

3 min read

5 Bed bug myths you should not believe
Undeniably there has been a recent spread of bed bugs beyond the chambres of Paris, but before you panic clean your entire house from top to bottom, here are five bed bug myths you should not believe 
Recent research unveils a global surge in bed bugs, extending beyond Paris. This increase is not solely attributed to heightened international travel but also to the evolving resistance of these blood-sucking pests to most pesticides. 
With a staggering 100 per cent increase in Google searches for “bed bugs” over the past month, a plethora of rumours surrounding these apple-seed-sized vampires has emerged. These bloodthirsty critters have instilled profound fear as they invade our personal spaces, feeding on us when we are the most vulnerable.
In light of this, Kevin Klingler, a seasoned pest control expert at Pest Wisdom,  is determined to alleviate the mounting apprehension and dispel these myths once and for all!

1. MYTH: Killing bed bugs attracts more of them 

Many wonder if eradicating a bed bug infestation will draw new bugs into their surroundings. Thankfully, this is not the case. Other bed bugs are not attracted to deceased members of their own kind, and it's improbable that different types of insects will enter your home due to prior bed bug activity.
"Bed bugs aren't attracted to deceased members of their own kind"
While killing bed bugs might potentially attract other insects like spiders, ants, and centipedes, this is only likely if those insects already inhabit your home. Moreover, the olfactory senses of these insects have limited range. For instance, most species of ants can't detect anything more than ten feet away, making it unlikely that deceased bed bugs would attract more insects from the outside.

2. MYTH: Scratching bed bug bites spread them 

A person lifting their T-shirt to reveal bug bites on their torso
It's commonly believed that scratching bed bug bites can cause them to spread. However, this isn't accurate. The itchiness associated with bed bug bites is not due to a virus but is caused by the anticoagulant that they inject into our skin to facilitate blood flow.
Bed bug bites themselves are not contagious. The concern with scratching is that it can create tears in your skin, which may lead to infection or scarring. Hence, despite the temptation, it's best to resist the urge to scratch.
An extra tip from Kevin on dealing with itchy bed bug bites is to first wash the affected area with soap and water. Be sure to rinse off all the soap to prevent further irritation. If the itching persists, try applying corticosteroid cream, and if it doesn't improve or the area becomes painful, consider consulting a doctor, who may prescribe additional medications.

3. MYTH: Bed bugs can smell blood 

Bed bugs do NOT have the ability to detect blood. Instead, they are attracted by the CO2 and heat emitted by our bodies, which they can sense as long as they are within three feet of their target, and will begin to bite until they find a vein. This is why they tend to inhabit areas close to where you sleep.
" Bed bugs are attracted by the CO2 and heat emitted by our bodies"
Since bed bugs cannot detect blood, there is no connection between their biting frequency and menstrual cycles or blood type. Some individuals may experience more bites simply because bed bugs prefer feeding on smooth, exposed skin, which is easier for them to access. Additionally, bed bugs don't respond to movement, so a person who remains relatively still is preferred.

4. MYTH: Bed bugs only reside in beds 

A magnifying glass with bed bugs on it held up against a bed
Despite their misleading name, bed bugs do not exclusively inhabit beds. Therefore, disposing of your mattress will not completely resolve the bed bug issue, as these pests often nest in various other locations. They can be found in crevices of bed frames, both inside and on box springs, drawers and wardrobes, among items stored under the bed, in curtains, stuffed animals, and even on carpets and rugs. Consequently, discarding your mattress is unlikely to entirely address your bed bug problem, and you may inadvertently spread bed bugs throughout your home as you transport the infested mattress.
If you choose to replace the mattress, there are several precautions you should take to protect your home. Encase the mattress in a protective cover before removing it from the room. These encasements serve as effective tools because they trap the bed bugs already residing in your mattress. Essentially, once you zip up the encasement, no bed bugs can escape, leading them to eventually perish.

5. MYTH: DIY bed bug home remedies are effective 

In an attempt to salvage their homes infested with bed bugs, people often turn to quick internet remedies before seeking professional help. Baking soda and rubbing alcohol are among the most commonly used, however, there is no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. In fact, research by Rutgers University shows that even after being sprayed with rubbing alcohol, half of the bed bugs still survive after four days.
"Even after being sprayed with rubbing alcohol, half of the bed bugs still survive after four days"
Moreover, dousing your furniture in highly flammable liquid can pose a fire hazard, with cases of house fires caused by homeowners combating bed bugs reported around the world.
Banner credit: nadia_bormotova
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