Bed bugs. Chances are good that you’ve heard of them or even had a friend who ran in with these pests that love to bite humans, feeding on their blood and leaving an itchy, painful rash behind. For most of us, the idea of bed bugs sends a shiver of fear up the spine, yet many people don’t know much about this insect, its habitat, or its habits.
Can you find bed bug eggs in hair, and can these pests live on clothing or our body? Do they fly or cause diseases? And how difficult are they to get rid of once they’ve invaded your living space? The more you know about bed bugs, the better you can protect yourself and your home from a bed bug infestation.
A common question homeowners ask is, “Where do bed bugs hide on your body?” Let’s address this query first. Bed bugs hide primarily during the day when they fit into the tiniest crack and crevices in areas where people sleep. These areas tend to be close to where they can feed during the nighttime hours and could be in a crash or another narrow, protected space in a bed frame, couch box spring, mattress, recliner, or headboard.
Since bed bugs can multiply quickly, these pests can move onto other parts of your home if not controlled, making elimination extremely difficult. As we will discuss throughout this post, as we address other frequently asked questions, bed bugs do not hide on humans because they prefer a cooler, safer environment. So they don’t hide on your body. After they have taken their blood meal, bed bugs will retreat into a secure location to begin the process of digesting, which can take quite some time before they strike again.
If bed bugs don’t live on your body, can they live in your hair? Let’s explore this question next.
Symptoms Of Bed Bugs In Hair
Can bed bugs live in your hair? The short answer is no. That’s not to say they can’t bite you on your scalp, forehead, cheeks, or neck, but bed bugs’ legs and bodies aren’t designed for crawling through human hair. Plus, they prefer a more relaxed environment than that created by human body heat, so even if they do happen to feed on the skin of your head or neck, they aren’t likely to stick around afterward.
Bed bugs can bite you on the legs, hands, and arms but are more likely to feed on your neck and head. One reason these bugs are so sneaky is that their bite doesn’t hurt, so an affected person doesn’t often notice until and unless they have a reaction. A bed bug will likely get you on the face since they prefer bare skin. Symptoms of bed bugs in hair might include red, intensely itchy welts along your hairline or across your forehead, cheeks, or neck and small dots of blood on your pillow. Again, bed bugs don’t typically take up residence in human hair the way lice or fleas might, and they usually bite exposed skin not covered by hair. Thus, if you have insect bites on your scalp, it’s less likely to be a bed bug than some other insect.
After two to five minutes of feeding, the bed bug will retreat to the closest hiding spot, beginning the digestion process, which can take several weeks. After that point, the bed bug can lay eggs about the size of a grain of sugar. Since bed bugs don’t live on humans, they also won’t lay their eggs on humans, so you won’t have to worry about getting bed bug eggs in your hair.
Can Bed Bugs Live On Your Body?
While travelers are known to carry bed bugs with them from one destination to the next, these insects are highly unlikely to hitchhike on your body, in your hair, or in the clothes you’re wearing. Instead, they’re far more likely to hitch a ride in the clothes you aren’t wearing—the ones in your luggage or backpack. Taking prompt measures is essential if you suspect you’ve stayed, slept, or stored your belongings in a bed-bug-infested room on a trip.
Suppose you’re traveling and suspect you’ve stayed in a room or traveled on a bus or train infested with bed bugs. In that case, wash every bit of your clothing as soon as possible in the hottest water available and then dry them on the highest setting. Both high temperatures and steam kill bed bugs, so these steps should eliminate the problem. Use a flashlight to inspect your shoes, bag, and other items, paying extra attention to the small folds and corners. You might need to dispose of your suitcase and get a new one.
Bed Bug Bites On Scalp: Pictures And Description Of Affected Area
Bed bugs leave several bites that become itchy, red, and irritated. As we already mentioned, these pests prefer to feed on bare skin, so it’s more likely that you will notice a bite on your arms, legs, or neck rather than your scalp. The most obvious exception to that rule is if you are bald.
While many victims of bed bug infestations experience allergic reactions to the bites, some have no symptoms other than small dots where the creature feeds. Some people notice a clear raised center on the affected area. In the most severe cases, individuals may experience nausea, blisters, fever, and difficulty breathing after being bitten.
You can see photographs of bed bug bites on the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, in a clinical review by the Journal of the American Medical Association, and an informational report on integrated pest management to control bed bugs. In these images, you will notice that bed bug bites resemble mosquito and flea bites, so bites from all these insects can often be confused.
Bed Bug Facts
After being all but eradicated in the 1940s and ’50s, Cimex lectularius—otherwise known as bed bugs—began making a resurgence all over the world in the early 2000s due to the insect’s growing resistance to commonly used insecticides. Full-grown bed bugs are minor, only about a quarter-inch in diameter—about the size of an apple seed. Reddish-brown in color, bed bugs have banded, oval-shaped abdomens that can turn bright red after feeding when they’re full of blood. Since they are so small and flat, they can slip into spaces as narrow as a credit card. Similarly, they can often go undetected in the folds of mattresses or armchairs, beneath rugs, and in other furniture and living spaces. Since these pests live indoors, there is no “high” or “low” season for bed bugs.
Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal and seem to be most active in the wee hours of the morning. Still, they have been known to bite during the daytime as well. Unfortunately, bed bugs seem to be impervious to most commonly used insecticides and bug-repellent sprays (the kind you would use, for example, to repel mosquitoes and ticks), so spraying your bed or your skin before bedtime won’t help you avoid the bite of this pesky little nuisance.
It’s important to know that bed bug infestations are not due to an unsanitary environment. Even the cleanest homes and hotels can be prone to an infestation since bed bugs do not live in filth—they live off the blood of mammals, including humans. So wherever humans (and other mammals) live, bed bugs can live happily, too, even if kept immaculately clean.
How To Know If Bed Bugs Are In Your Home
Travelers know bed bugs can live and hide in many places besides the bed. Bed bug infestations can also spread to upholstered couches and chairs, not to mention trains, buses, and other areas. Bed bugs can also crawl up walls, hide behind picture frames or headboards or sneak into the cracks and corners of furniture drawers.
The same inspection technique you use when traveling might help determine whether you have a bed bug infestation in your home. However, eradicating the insects from your living space is likely much more complex and costly than just ridding them from your overnight bag after a trip. Signs of a bed bug infestation in your home include, first and foremost, itchy bites that appear in lines on your skin. Other characters you might find in your bed, on walls, or on other furniture include blood spots on sheets and mattresses, dead bugs or exoskeletons, pale whitish or yellow nymphs (baby bed bugs), and bits of the insects’ dark, blood-filled excrement. (Yuck!)
The Good News About Bed Bugs (Yes, There Is Some!)
When it comes to bed bugs, it’s not all bad news. Here’s the good part: first, bed bugs are not carriers of infectious diseases, unlike mosquitoes or some other pests. So even if you have bed bug bites, you won’t pick up any nasty bacteria or illness beyond the bites’ effects. Another good bed bug news is that they don’t reproduce very quickly—not as soon as certain other pests, such as cockroaches or flies. And speaking of flying insects, since bed bugs can’t fly, at least you’ll only have to deal with them crawling on you, not zipping airborne into your hair.
Okay, maybe calling that last bit “good news” is a bit of a stretch. And when bed bugs infest your home, any way you look at it, they’re bad news. Pest professionals call bed bugs the most challenging pest to treat. If the professionals have trouble, the average homeowner may find it nearly impossible to eradicate bed bugs without calling in the experts.
ABC Can Rid Your Home of Bed Bugs
If you suspect you might have bed bugs in your home, the best thing you can do is to call ABC immediately to schedule a service. Our experienced, professional team will conduct a thorough inspection to determine whether it’s bed bugs or some other pest that has invaded your home. Then we will eliminate the problem using proven methods to get rid of bed bugs once and for all.