7 Things You Should Know About Bed Bugs

7 Things You Should Know About Bed Bugs

When you were a kid, your parents might have
told you not to let the bed bugs bite. And for a long time, they were so unheard-of
that you might have asked your parents what a bed bug even was. But today, bed bugs are the fastest growing
pest control emergency in the developed world. 1 in 5 Americans either has had bed bugs,
or knows someone who has. And the problem isn’t going away. It’s actually getting a lot worse. Known into the scientific world as Cimex lectularius,
bed bugs are blood-feeding insects that are about the size of an apple seed once they’re
fully grown. They survive on the blood of mammals and insects,
but they prefer human blood. A colony of bed bugs can have thousands of
individuals. And you can have them without even knowing
it. So here’s what you need to know about bed
bugs. [1. They don’t only live in beds.] The name “bed bug” might make you think
they only live in beds. But bed bugs will live just about anywhere
they can hide. An adult bed bug is five millimeters long
and as narrow as a piece of paper, and they can crawl up to thirty meters in a night to
find a meal. That means bed bugs will hide behind light
switches on the wall, underneath peeling paint and wallpaper, or in the gap between the walls
and the baseboards, or just about anywhere else. Bed bugs have even been found living inside
of a prosthetic leg. [2. Bed bugs have preyed on humans for at least
3,500 years.] We’ve been dealing with bed bugs for a really
long time. We know they infested ancient Rome. The Romans actually brewed them and drank
them as a cure for snakebites, which I’m sure was delicious. We also know they were in ancient Egypt, because
the Egyptians wrote about them. Probably complaining to their landlords. In fact, archaeological evidence tells us
that bed bugs have fed on humans for at least 3500 years, because fossilized bed bugs have
been found at dig sites. But bed bugs may have been plaguing us for
much longer than that, based on what’s in their mitochondrial DNA — that is, the DNA
inside the powerhouse of the cell. By comparing the mitochondrial markers in
bedbug populations around the world, we’ve learned that they originated in caves in the
Middle East, where they would have fed on bats. Now, bed bugs can’t fly, and they can’t
jump. They can’t crawl very far, either. Thirty meters a night isn’t setting any
land speed records. So it’s a lot more likely that we met them
when we went into their caves, instead of them coming out of their caves after us. Which means the first humans that bed bugs
ever chewed on were probably cave-dwellers. [3. Bed bugs hate heat.] So, we’ve had them forever, and they can
hide anywhere. How can we get rid of them? The simplest way to wipe out a bed bug infestation
is heat. Both eggs and adults will die in under ten
minutes if exposed to temperatures above 46 degrees Celsius. You know how in old-timey movies, cheap beds,
like in hotels and hospitals, had all those janky metal frames? Metal frames were popular because you could
rub them in kerosene and light them on fire. That would definitely take care of any bed
bugs living inside of them. Another method that was used to clear bed
bugs out of furniture was to pack the joints with gunpowder and explode them. Maybe don’t try that one, though. SciShow is officially telling you not to set
your bed frame on fire. Please don’t burn down your house. [4. Bed bugs can hibernate] Even though bed bugs hate heat, you can’t
just wait for them to die on a hot summer’s day, for a couple of reasons. First of all, just because it’s 46 degrees
outside, doesn’t mean it’s 46 degrees where the bed bugs are actually living. In the shade under your bed, or in the cool
recesses inside your walls? It’s a lot more comfortable. But more importantly, bed bugs are capable
of something called diapause. Diapause for insects is kind of like hibernation
for bears. It’s a deep sleep, where the bed bug shuts
off most of its metabolic processes and survives on its energy stores until it either runs
out of energy or wakes up. Bed bugs enter diapause when it starts to
get too hot, or if temperatures drop below freezing, or if they can’t find food. That’s why putting your bedding in trash
bags to try and starve the bed bugs out doesn’t work. Thanks to diapause, bed bugs can survive over
a year without a meal. But in the same way that a bear won’t go
into hibernation if you just stick it in a big freezer for a few hours, bed bugs won’t
enter diapause if it only gets hot over a short period of time. Diapause is a reaction to slower, environmental
changes … like the onset of summer. Which is why setting a bed on fire kills them. [5. Bed bugs were almost wiped out in the 1950s.] But heat isn’t the only way to kill a bed
bug. The reason you grew up thinking that bed bugs
were maybe not even a real thing, is because bed bugs were almost wiped out in the 1950s. All because of an incredibly useful but also
super terrible, toxic little chemical called DDT. DDT stands for dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane,
and it was the first chemical pesticide to be put to widespread use. It was rolled out after World War II, and
by the end of the 1950s, bed bug populations had been so reduced in the developed world
that scientists mostly stopped studying them, because they literally couldn’t find any. DDT is from a family of pesticides called
pyrethroids, which are synthetic versions of a compound created by the chrysanthemum
flower. Here’s how it works: Most animals, insects and humans included,
have pores in the membranes of our nerve cells that can be opened to let in sodium. When sodium enters a nerve cell, it triggers
a nerve impulse. Pyrethroids bind to those sodium pores, locking
them into the open position. That allows sodium to flood the cells. So nerve impulses start to fire uncontrollably,
eventually leading to paralysis and death. Pyrethroids have a much bigger effect on insects
than they do on larger animals like birds or mammals. Even better, pyrethroids can affect insects
at all stages of their life cycle, including when they’re in the egg. One treatment of DDT was enough to completely
wipe out a population of bed bugs. And they would stay wiped out for up to a
year. But DDT was banned in the US in 1972, for
a lot of reasons. For one thing, females who are exposed to
DDT before puberty are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. DDT has also been linked to male infertility,
as well as miscarriage, nervous system and liver damage, and developmental disabilities
in children. It may not kill humans the way it kills insects,
but it sure isn’t good for us. So we should like, not bring DDT back, ever. [6. They can still be killed…sort of.] Modern bed bug treatments can be effective. But they’re costly, and not as reliable
as DDT was. There are other pyrethroids now, for example,
that don’t have so many harmful side effects. We can try using those against bed bugs, but
the bugs have evolved a near-complete immunity to them. Bed bugs today are ten thousand times less
vulnerable to pyrethroids than they were fifty years ago. It goes back to those sodium pores. They’re made up of about two thousand amino
acids, and it turns out that if you change just a handful of those amino acids, the sodium
pore can still do its job. But the pyrethroids can’t bond to those
new amino acids. That makes pyrethroids, DDT included, totally
useless against bed bugs. And we don’t have anything else that works
anywhere near as well. Steam treatments are effective: hot steam
will kill bed bugs and their eggs. But the steam needs to come in direct contact
with the bugs to kill them, which can be tough if they’re, like, inside your mattress. In that situation, bed bug-proof mattress
covers are available. Essentially, you wrap your bed in airtight
plastic, and starve the bugs out. But like I said earlier, that can take up
to a year. So … I hope you like the sound of crinkling
plastic while you sleep. You can also seal the cracks and crevices
where bed bugs like to hide. That will cut down on the number of locations
where they can lay their eggs. And linens and furniture can be put in a freezer
unit for a couple of weeks to freeze the bugs to death. If you have a bed bug infestation, you may
end up needing a professional exterminator to do ALL of those things … and maybe more
than once. The cost can run into the thousands of dollars. Okay, so is there good news? Well, yes, kind of. [7. Bed bugs don’t spread disease.] It’s weird, for a blood-feeding insect,
but bed bugs don’t spread disease. Most sources of human blood-borne illness
break down inside of bed bugs almost immediately. For example, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS,
decomposes in the bed bug’s digestive system in under an hour. Since bed bugs only feed once every few days,
there’s basically no danger of it getting passed on through bites. There are a few diseases that can survive
for longer. Hepatitis B, for example, remains in the bed
bug’s digestive system for up to six weeks after feeding. But there is no evidence that the virus will
actually pass into a new host. Bed bugs seem to be very clean eaters. Disease-carrying blood-feeders like mosquitos
can make you sick because of the compounds they inject into your bloodstream when they
feed, like anesthetic so you don’t feel the bite and anticoagulants so your blood
keeps flowing while they feed.. Those substances are tainted with the blood
of their other victims. Bed bugs also inject you with anesthetic and
anticoagulants — but without the blood mixed in. Theoretically, it’s possible that bed bugs
could transmit something — say, if you rolled over on a bed bug, it burst, and its blood
got into an open sore. Gross, I know. But there’s never been a case of that actually
happening. Scientists can’t even make it happen in
a lab. The one exception is Chagas disease, which
they managed to spread to mice by putting bed bug feces directly into an open scrape. But, again, it’s never happened to a person. So, if you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation,
or just want to know what to do if you ever are, contact your local pest control experts. Just don’t look to the lessons of history,
because old school ways of wiping out bed bugs were … bad. Probably our best hope is that science will
come up with something new. Something as effective as DDT, but not as,
you know, awful. And hopefully they come up with it soon, because
after talking about bed bugs for ten minutes, I feel like they are crawling all over me. Oh, and half of people don’t respond to
bed bug bites at all. There’s no itching, and no mark. So even if they’re snacking on you every
night, you might not even know it. On that note, thanks for watching this episode
of SciShow, brought to you by our patrons on Patreon. If you want to help support this show, just
go to patreon.com/scishow. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow
and subscribe!

100 thoughts on “7 Things You Should Know About Bed Bugs”

  • I have bed bugs sadly … it is very disgusting and i’ve fallin into very emotional moods. These little shits ain’t no joke.

  • Buy 91% alcohol, and spray your box spring,mattress, or any infested furniture pieces. After dries, dust the infested furniture with diatomaceous earth. Keep in mind that this is just a temporary fix, but it'll give you a piece of mind until you get an exterminator. Best of luck to you! Bed bugs are a pain in the ass to deal with!

  • The REAL reason why bedbugs are on the rise is because exterminators charge an amount that the average household cannot afford.

  • Kimberly Meeks says:

    I don't agree that bed bugs don't effect humans in a bad way. Some how I got them. They do effect the nervous system, which is bad for high blood pressure problems.. Some people do, especially me, they leave marks on your body mainly our dark complicated people. They look like freckles until you notice they are moving. Then you realize, you not getting freckles, but invaded buy a parasite. After that you start noticing that you have marks on you, they like to leave their marks on you in a formation. My question is are these marks permanent? So for I say yes. I've been fighting these critters for months. I'm exhausted. I have a son who is an exterminator for over 20 years. He even laughed at me and thought I was crazy. I guess that only nursery rhyme we all grew up with was not just a myth. Sleep type and don't let the bed bugs bite was real. Does SayGoodByeBedBugs product really work? I've tried home remedy like vinegar and salt as suggested. The problem is thar the USA is infested all over again and your pest control people are not listening. Plus nobody including me wants to admit it because it even sounds gross and embarressing. People associate them with fifth. Which is sometimes true but I've got mine from people who I've let you my washer and dryer. Plus they are spreading so fast, we really need to be aware and start exterminating fast. I want to know what to do. This critters look familar to baby ticks. One actually attached itself itself to my skin. I thought it was a baby tick.. Gross and yes they certainly effect your immune system and nervous system.

  • Bed bugs are little shits. You don’t even realize they are there until too late. The good news is they have distinct bites. Unlike mosquitos, they bite in lines, and not randomly. Also, they poop blood, and it can be easy to see if you have light colored bedding

  • Dried basil also works. My brother had bed bugs once in his room and my parents got the new bed but before that, they bought packets of dried basil and put it around the room. After that, we didn't have any

  • Get neem oil and put it in a spray bottle. Half neem oil(highest concentration you can find) and half water. It not only kills them it repeals them and just about every other bug also. Spray your mattress and other areas they like to hide. Repeat once a week till they are gone.

  • SciShow: Dude! Excuse me, but there is nothing that will ever be able to cure AIDS period, end of story. There is nothing that can kill a virus that is constantly mutating at the rate that AIDS does. This is also why all those AIDS foundation's are a complete scam. I hope you don't believe everything you read on the internet. I hope you don't believe everything you hear on YouTube.

    Research has shown that bed bugs are carriers of Trypanosoma cruzi (also known as T.cruzi). T. cruzi is a protozoa that can cause Chagas disease. Bed bugs feed on blood like mosquitoes and ticks. Can bed bugs also transmit diseases like malaria, West Nile or Lyme disease? YES! The CDC is lying to all of us, because they don't want a Nationwide, or worldwide panic. The CDC thinks we are all dumb, ignorant, illiterate, illogical people that don't know any better, so they can easily pull the wool over our eyes. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, or have a special degree to figure this out.

    Bed bugs were almost wiped out in the 50s. Then the government took away our DDT, and Ficam. This is why they're making a comeback, and with a Vengeance too. Today there is a massive epidemic all over the United States, and some people in the United States even have chagas disease. Another lie that's being told across the internet is that bed bugs are drawn to you by your breath when you exhale. This is 100% not true. Bed bugs are drawn to you by Blood. If you've got a papercut. If it's your time of the month. Anything where blood has escaped your skin, this is how they find you. They can smell blood. How do you think they find the same spot where they bit you before?

    And yes, DDT and Ficam worked too, so did sulfur candles. I would suggest if you use sulfur candles that you be extremely careful. You can easily burn your whole house down with these things. Overall, if I experienced a bed bug infestation again I would use the sulfur candles. It is the quickest and cheapest way I know. You have to get a lot of them. Put two huge candles (minimal) in each and every room, then close all the windows, close all the doors. It also would be good if you did some caulking a couple days before, to make your home more airtight. Basically what I'm saying is you want to seal up your home tighter than a drum, then light all the candles and leave. Make sure each candle is setting inside something big and metal so they don't tip over, and so wax doesn't get all over the place. Don't forget to put them in the attic, and the basement, and the garage too! And take your pets and your plants out of the house. The only bed bug spray I found in the store that actually helps is by ortho. It puts a good dent in them. I do feel that they're pretty much immune to everything we got today though.

    Also to dispel a myth going across the internet: It doesn't matter if you're a clean person or a dirty person, either way you can still have bed bugs. They are now making headlines infesting places from the Jersey City Goldman Sacks building to a Victoria’s Secret shop on New York’s Upper East Side. They've even invaded the headquarters of CNN, Elle magazine and a popular movie theater in Times Square along with dormitories, apartments and homes throughout the nation.

    The EPA claimed that DDT was causing the extinction of the bald eagle! When that didn't work they claimed that females who are exposed to DDT before puberty are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. When that didn't work they claimed that DDT is linked to male infertility, miscarriages as well as nervous system and liver damage, and developmental disabilities in children. Yet there was no research that supported any of these claims. Scare people enough, and they'll hop on the bandwagon with you, even it is a lie. Rachel Carson is long dead, but her anti-pesticide, anti-chemical legacy lives on because people are too lazy or stupid to check the facts.

  • Hi all and lets talk says:

    is like in hell on dealing with bedbugs. i rented a room and always felt bitten by mosquitoes for 2-3 weeks, week 4 i spotted blood on my bed. it took me 6 weeks to figure out im infested by bedbugs as i never experianced it b4 and afterward it was hell. i will not off the light while im sleeping so that when awakes i will look for bedbugs when felt been bitten but without solution so i lost sleep. fortunately i changed my job to working 10hrs per day for 2 days per week can support my living..thanks to good friend .

    So basically i had a lot of free time and i like to play games and surf internet. what i did was disposed everything except my pc…now just an empty white room with my old pc. bought a black cloth to lay on to where im sitting and sleeping on the floor while i play my infested pc. it took 3 months.., sleeping without turning light off, spent time in room basically 24days per month, killing roughly 50 bedbugs small..medium..big per day while they trying to bite, biting, running away, hiding etc …it was hell. finally after 3 months in hell, i can turn off the light to sleep, but im aware there may still be some.

    so changed job and moved to a new place…for 3 years doesnt think they follow me but im unsure because the room wasnt bright. anyway again i moved to another new place ..is white and bright. for 2 years doesnt felt anything untill now i saw 2 normal ants killing a bedbug ..and so the battle will start again because they followed me all this while and its time to totally dispose off all old stuffs

  • We've got them right now "lucky us" we're getting ready to try alot of the things we've been reading and studying about, but right now I'm covering myself with vicks vaporub and haven't had one new bite since I've started, it will make dealing with them alot easier when my body is not on fire and itching….just thought someone may want to try it,,I will be covered in it if I ever travel too, people will just have to deal with the smell, if they've ever had bedbugs they'll totally understand..and might want to borrow mine..😳

  • DDT needs to be reintroduced to end human suffering. This plague of vampire insects causes mental illness, infections, great financial loss and ostracization by communities. They are spread in laundries, schools, airplanes, buses, cabs, hospitals, thrift stores, regular shops, grocery stores with return bags, hair dressers, college dorms, apts, Amazon returns, storage units, postal deliveries, illegal immigrants, home workers, dogs, cats, mice, rats, neighbors, babysisters, babies, the elderly, foreign travel, military. Is that enough reason to protect all !!!!!!!

  • Thats the reason why I sleep on the floor with only bedsheets and pillow.

    It feels so amazing.

    After I sleep, I dust the pillow and bedsheet and keep them in ward robe.

    I don't know why Americans have so many layers and small spaces in the bed.

  • I have mattress covers and got rid of my carpets because of dust mites, so I thought I would be safe from bed bugs. I didn't realise that bed bugs could live in walls and behind light switches. Either I don't have them or I'm not allergic to them and I haven't seen any evidence of the little critters.

  • To be honest with everybody here I gave up the battle and my house is completely infested I am taking over 10,000 bedbugs all in different stages of their life. This is God's judgment and there is NO stopping it and because I am their primary food source they feed off of me while I sleep at night I have to go for a blood transfusion every 3 months but I love them and I would be lonely with out them. They sleep with me in my bed there is actually one in specific I call her "cuddles' she grew to the size of a peanut literally I am pretty sure she is like the "queen bed bug" she's awesome though I even placed her on my male genitalia and let her suck me off. My advice to people is just the bugs do their thing they'll go away when they grow old and tired bye.

  • I’m so obsessed with bed bugs that I’m actually going to try to find solution to wipe them out! I got very sharp to their bite and my sense to their bite is very strong and I tend to wake up instantly to the bite! I just wake up and start killing them and soaking bed covers in hot water! So basically you need to put up fight to wipe them.

  • Where can I get this amazing sacred ddt like idc if it increases the risks of me getting breast cancer I just need to get rid of them lil thirsty hoes

  • My hubby's nephew brought it into my house, I've tried tried to get rid of it and it's not working, those that can help are asking for a large sum of money and I don't have it…
    I clean all corners of my house everyday but its still there, sis in-law came over and said its dirtyness that brought them to my house and tears welled up in my eye.. Still haven't got what can kill it…

  • Why did God think the human race needed to have bedbugs??? Was it one of the unmentioned plagues from the bible they forgot to mention? Like why can't these pests suck on each other's blood…

  • Since when is DDT a pyrethroid?
    I know they both act on sodium channels, but I believe they are completely different chemical. Would love some more information if this is actually true

  • if the bedbugs digestive system can break down and ex-spell all those diseases how come scientist haven't found a cure to HIV? Revenue… Simple

  • …the Notorious Pesticide "DDT" was in reality the cause of the so called "Polio Epidemic" in the 1950's ! Big Governments helped shield Big Chemical Companies (they both concocted the Polio Hoax) from the Outrage and Big Lawsuits from the Afflicted General Public !

  • Siddharth Joshi says:

    Covered in bug bites, those red blod coloured marks, cherishing the increment in my knowledge regarding the creatures that gave me the same …

  • These damn bugs stalk you and run towards you when they are really hungry. They also climb up walls to get to the ceiling just to drop on you like the bloody bastards they are.

  • You might not notice the bite, but the stains would raise some question say you rolled onto one in your white pajamas or pillow sheet covers.

  • Oh yah also try cleaning in the nude if you can, this gives any runners a low ball chance it can climb up your legs, run a bath for immediate decontamination.

  • Melissa Bingham says:

    I believe bed bugs have a high body temperature because it helps process blood. One time I did eat one and it tastes like one of thoes Red Hot candies. Gross i know.

  • J. Manuel Aviles Jr. says:

    Diatomaceous Earth, something that could be found at any plant store, can kill the bugs easy. Find some and spread them in the area you know holds them. The earth becomes a barrier where you spread it.

  • They are God's creatures. We are all part of the circle of life. You eat vegetables and animals and the bb's Snack off of you.. try to eat healthily so they can be healthy as well. Oh, They like to party also, so when you drink and or smoke weed make sure you crash in your bed instead of on top of the refrigerator or something…. your bed bug roommates need a little get crazy time also!… you can all be one big happy family….

  • So… Just a thought… But we have medicine we literally FEED or animals to keep fleas and ticks off of them, I'm not sure how they work exactly, like if a flea does land on your pooch & bites them, they die right? So why can't we develope something like that for humans living in high infested areas? Wouldn't that eventually eradicate the bed bug problem? I've had them, & I promise you that they're awful to deal with and it takes a long time to be completely rid of them (plus treatment is expensive)!!!
    IDK how effective a treatment for US to take/apply to our skin, but there's got to be a better way!!

  • You guys seriously need to ditch the econut "science" you insist on using as DDT has been consistently proven by REAL scientists to be harmless to humans and mammals, hence the reason the UN finally conceded to allowing its use again. Thanks to pseudo science like the garbage you're spreading half a million people are killed by malaria every year, something which would be completely avoidable if we were using DDT again. Ditto Zika and all the other fun mosquito born viruses.

  • You can't get rid of them, because they show up out of nowhere. Once they start getting in your house, you can't get rid of those d*MN things! They cause lots of damage to your property too! They destroy your walls, ceilings, linens and things and you have to replace drywall because of those dam things! They need to become extict!

  • We have bed bugs and I was bitten all over and my whole body itches we got rid of my bed which had tones of bugs but we don’t know where they came from and that stupid chemical could’ve killed all the bed bugs but NOOOOOOOO they had to live

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