15 things bed bugs don't want you to know

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Bed bugs may be small (we're the shape and size of an apple seed), but we're infallible: our presence makes your hair stand on end.

Find out what you need to know about bed bugs to get a good night's sleep and make sure you don't get bitten.

1. We're attracted to certain colors

A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology showed that bed bugs like dark red and black (so it's best to avoid sheets and comforters in these shades), while we tend to avoid white, green and yellow. Researchers believe that these shades protect us from predators like ants and spiders.

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What's more, since our exoskeleton is red and we like to huddle together for protection, this palette is likely to attract our attention as it indicates the possible presence of other bed bugs.

2. Heat kills us

Exterminators treat rooms and furniture with a combination of dry steam, intense heat and chemicals.

If your clothes have been in an infested room (or your sheets in an infested bed), put them in a hot dryer (at least 50 degrees Celsius) for about 30 minutes to kill the bugs; washing them in hot water won't do the trick.

3. Do you have a lot of bites? Don't panic.

We feed on blood. To reach adulthood, we need to eat once at each stage of our development.

Mature female bugs also need blood to produce eggs, which are the size of a speck of dust. We are equipped with long beaks that we use to pierce the skin and extract our sustenance.

But finding the right blood vessel may require more than one puncture, so we usually make several attempts. For this reason, the number of bites you have is not equivalent to the number of bedbugs that have bitten you.

4. We like peace and quiet

We're sensitive to movement and prefer our table to be still while we eat. That's why we're drawn to places where people rest: apartments, houses, hotels, dormitories, trains, buses and even cruise ships.

In fact, if our food moves while we're eating it, we're more likely to remove our beak and look for another place to eat in your body.

5. We're not picky eaters.

When it comes to feasting, we love all the parts of your body that are exposed while you sleep, like your hands, neck, face, shoulders, legs and arms.

6. We eat quickly

It takes us 3 to 12 minutes to get full. With a full belly and a happy heart, we tend to retreat to a secluded spot to digest.

We often evacuate leftovers from previous meals while indulging in a new one, which explains why you may find brown or black stains on your sheets. Yes, we know: we're the worst eaters!

7. We prefer to eat human food, but...

We don't despise the taste of other mammals (your dogs or cats, for example) and birds. Since our bites don't hurt, our hosts don't realize that we're stealing their blood.

8. We hide well

Our bodies are very thin and flat (about the thickness of a credit card). When we're not eating, this allows us to hide in tight places. Some of our favorite hiding places are mattress seams, box springs, headboards, bedside tables, crevices and behind peeling wallpaper.

We're able to live for several months without eating (a whole year, if the weather's right), so we can rest in these places for a long time.

9. We like accumulation

For us, a house full of junk and objects, old and new, means a habitat with more places to hide. Obviously, this makes it harder for you to track us down and eliminate us, so we're safer!

10. Flexibility is our thing: we adapt to your schedule.

We're opportunists. Although our peak feeding time is between 2 and 5 a.m., if your work is in the evening, we have no problem going out during the day and biting you if we're hungry.

We're actually attracted by human body temperature and, even more so, by the carbon dioxide they exhale.

11. We move everywhere

We usually move from place to place with people who are traveling. We slip into the folds and seams of suitcases, travel bags, folded clothes, linens and furniture.

Most of them don't realize that they're smuggling us aboard their vehicles, and that we're infesting the places they visit. That's why you should always check your home for signs that we've been there too: live insects, bloodstains and our corpses.

Bear in mind that we're not a problem due to a lack of cleanliness or hygiene; we're present in modest hotels as well as five-star ones.

Other tips: don't put your clothes or luggage directly on the bed (if we're in it, we climb easily) and use the metal cupboards to put your luggage in (we're not very good at climbing on metal surfaces).

12. We walk

Bedbugs don't have wings, so we can't fly. Unlike other wingless insects, like fleas, we can't jump long distances either. So how do we get from one host to another? By walking.

Fun fact: although we can walk about 30 meters every night, we don't usually live more than 2 meters from where people sleep.

13. If you look hard enough, our tracks will appear.

In addition to bites, some signs that your space is infested are: blood stains on sheets, presence of feces and skins shed during molting. It's easy to confuse our bites with those of fleas, mosquitoes and other insects.

In our case, the bites are usually clustered in a small area and sometimes in a straight or zigzag pattern; you'll notice small flat or raised areas that are likely to swell, itch, redden or blister.

Symptoms may take a few days to appear, but not everyone reacts in the same way to bites; it depends mainly on your reaction to the anticoagulant we inject with our saliva when we pierce the skin. If you've been bitten several times, your wound may be larger and your reaction more intense.

14. We don't spread disease

If there's one good thing to say about us, it's that... The itching we cause can lead to excessive scratching, which increases the chances of triggering a secondary skin infection - usually the worst physical effect. +

When it comes to disease, worry more about mosquito bites.

15. You can prevent us from invading your home

Follow these simple precautions suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): look for signs of infestation on second-hand furniture, beds and sofas before bringing them home; use a protective cover to cover mattresses and box springs and eliminate hiding places (buy a quality, tear-resistant bed bug cover , and check it regularly for holes); vacuum frequently vacuum frequently to eliminate successful invaders; reduce clutter; if you use public laundries, bring your clothes in plastic bags, put them straight back in when you take them out of the dryer, and fold your clothes at home. Use a bedbug spray made with eucalyptus and citronella to prevent their proliferation.

Getting rid of us all by ourselves is a challenge.

Home treatment is complex because we hide so well and reproduce so quickly. What's more, the egg stage is resistant to many extermination techniques, so a single attempt may not be enough.

The EPA provides some manuals, but before you try for yourself, understand that it can take weeks or months to eradicate us completely, depending on the nature and extent of the infestation.

We hope you've learned more by reading this article, and wish you the best of health!

The Protech Allergies team

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