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Bedbugs – How Do They Affect Pets? What You Should Know About Bedbugs and Pets

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Bedbugs are small reddish-brown colored parasites about the size of a ladybug that can infest your home and bite sleeping humans. The most common type is Cimex lectularius. Bedbugs can bite you (and possibly your pets), and they can be very difficult to get rid of.

The name bedbug (or "bed bug") came to be because of this parasite's predilection to live in or near beds where they can bite humans at night when these bugs are most active and humans are asleep.

Bedbugs have been around for thousands of years. A resurgence has been documented since the mid 1990's - possibly because of increased travel and resistance to insecticides. Bedbugs are most common in places where lots of people live such as dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels, military facilities or apartment complexes. They can also be spread by second-hand furniture and clothing that can be especially common in shelters, apartments and dormitories.

This article is to help uncover some facts and myths about bedbugs.

How do you get bedbugs?

Bedbugs can be hard to get rid of once an area has been infected. They are common in homeless shelters and some hotels. They can spread by walking into your clothes and luggage when you travel. You can also bring bedbugs in your home through second-hand clothes and furniture (especially mattresses, box springs and upholstered furniture). They can also migrate through ductwork in large buildings.

What are signs of bedbugs?

You can see bedbugs hiding in the cracks of mattress seams – or you may spot their shed shells. You can also see a dark residue, which is the feces of the bedbug (similar to flea feces commonly called flea dirt). Blood spots on the sheets is an early sign.

They don't live on pets or people. They take their blood meal and go back into hiding.

What do bedbugs eat?

Bedbugs need a blood meal to survive and prefer human blood. However – they will bite pets.

Are bedbugs a sign of filth?

No – they are not. They can find hiding spots in both clean and dirty environments.

How are bedbugs spread?

Bedbugs will bite their human host then hide. They crawl (like a lady bug) and can move pretty well. Bedbugs don't fly. They will hide anywhere they can go including in the cracks of the mattress, box springs, bed frames, in or under cracks of headboards, along baseboards, in clothes, in luggage (that you could take home), back packs, under loose paint or wall paper, in the seams of clothing, behind pictures, in curtain seams, pet bedding, stuffed animal toy seams, under electrical outlets, and in the seams or cracks of anything upholstered.

They are good "hitchhikers" and can hide in anything you bring into your home, including pet beds and stuffed toys.

What does a bedbug bite look like?

Different people reactive differently to bedbug bites. Some bites look like a small red itchy bump. They can be arranged in a line or clustered (resembling a rash).

The most common bite locations are parts of the body exposed during sleep such as the face, neck, arms, hands and ankles. Some people react more to bites than others, with some having an allergic reaction that can lead to itching and hives.

How long to bedbugs live?

Bedbugs live about 5 to10 months depending on the weather and environment. An average female will lay more than 200 eggs during her lifetime. They can go as long as a year without a blood meal but normally feed about every 10 days.

What do baby bedbugs look like?

The newborn bedbugs are nearly coloreless, very small and hard to detect.

Adults have a brown/red shell which they will shed as they grow.


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