Bed bugs are small scary notorious bloodsuckers that just won’t let you have a good night’s sleep. They wait for you to go to bed and switch off the lights. As soon as you start falling asleep, they come out of their hideouts and wreak havoc on your body. Before you know it, you find yourself turning and tossing due to the discomfort brought about by their stinging bites. Your skin becomes itchy and what you thought would be a good night becomes a nightmare.
Luckily, like every other parasite, you can successfully defeat these creatures. It may, however, take time to completely get rid of them.
Tropical Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are categorized into several insect species. That is the common bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) and the tropical bed bugs (Cimex Hemipterus). Tropical bed bugs are found in subtropical and tropical areas, just as their name suggests
In the USA, tropical bed bugs are prevalent in southern states which tend to be warmer than other regions. A few years ago, it was reported that there was a resurgence of these pesky creatures in Florida. Before that, the last tropical bed bugs were documented during the 1930s in the entire country.
Tropical bed bugs have similar habits and appearance with common bed bugs. They live in the same environment with their hosts, and their bites don’t transmit diseases. However, they are still disruptive to a homeowner’s lifestyle.
While common bed bugs are found in about 50 states of the United States, tropical bed bugs are only known to exist in Florida.
These insects have a high appetite for human blood. They come out at night and feed on their host for 3-10 minutes. Usually, this will happen in homes, motels, five-star hotels, airplanes and so on. So long as there are some hiding spots, and the conditions are favorable, tropical bed bugs can easily thrive.
Description of tropical bed bugs
A tropical bed bug is not different from a common bed bug. If you saw both of them, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart not unless you observed them through a microscope. This not only applies to you, but also to the professionals.
These bugs are tiny, flat and oval. Their bodies appear to be reddish and have six legs that aid their moment. They also bite exactly like the common bed bugs.
Their size ranges between 5-7 mm, but after feeding, their bodies are likely to become slightly engorged.
Initially, it was easy to eliminate these detested creatures with DDT. But now, times have changed and the tropical bugs have evolved. They have built up some resistance against pesticides, prompting professionals to use other methods deemed to be more effective.
With a recent resurgence of these bugs in Florida, it is anticipated that the infestations will grow. There is a likelihood that they’ll spread out to other areas of the country. It won’t matter whether these areas have suitable conditions as most households are kept warm throughout. All that a bed bug needs to do is get into safe harborages, and maybe the temperatures will be ideal for breeding.
It is important to have a sound knowledge of how the bed bug Hemiptera operates as knowing their habits may come in handy during a bed bug infestation. For this reason, we have compiled for you 21 tropical bed bug facts to help you understand them better.
1. Tropical bed bugs can go for long periods without feeding
An adult Cimex Hemipterus can survive for up to a staggering 10 months without a blood meal. With this kind of survival rate, it becomes extremely difficult to contain them. Moreover, just because you live in colder regions doesn’t mean you are immune from a Cimex Hemipterus infestation.
You can travel to Asia or Florida and unknowingly bring them back to your home with your luggage. Due to their small size, tropical bed bugs can easily hide in your clothes. And given that people in cold areas tend to keep their houses warm, these parasites are still capable of breeding and thriving in your household. Intermittently, they will come out to terrorize you and your family, and then, they will go back to their harborages.
2. Tropical bed bugs are smart and elusive
One of the common characteristics of bed bugs is being elusive. Tropical bed bugs are no exception. They hide away during the daylight and patiently wait for their chance. Late at night, these pests follow a carbon dioxide and a temperature gradient to find their host.
It is easy for them to locate you as their host since you let out carbon dioxide in your sleep. Also, your body produces more warmth as you sleep.
Once they detect these conditions, they come out of their hiding spots. This happens conveniently as they don’t stay far from their host. In most cases, they are just under your mattress.
In case you wake up as the tropical bed bugs feed, they scamper away to safety and hide in the tufts and the folds of your mattress. As soon as the coast is clear, they emerge again to continue feeding. This can be quite distressing to you. If your house is infested with tropical bed bugs, then many are the nights that you will barely sleep in peace.
3. Tropical bed bugs are fast-moving
Though bed bugs don’t fly, they can crawl fast. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that they have six legs, which aid their fast movement. For this reason, even if you wake up abruptly as they feed on you, they can easily get away as their speed helps them to be elusive.
4. Tropical bed bugs saliva keeps the host’s wound from clotting
Bed bug Hemiptera is a known solenophage. This means that their mouthparts are designed to directly pierce the host’s blood vessels. Once that happens, they draw enough blood to fill their critters. Besides that, their saliva carries anticoagulants to keep your wound from clotting as they feed.
This process is disconcerting for most people to imagine. No wonder these creatures are feared and hated all over the world.
5. Tropical bed bugs are moved around by people
Ancestrally, the primary host for Cimex Hemipterus were bats. Soon after, they’d move to parasitize the early man in the caves. For many years now, these pests’ principal hosts have been human beings.
Tropical bed bugs are not known to have strong migratory tendencies. Though they are persistent, they can’t move across regions. Therefore, people unknowingly move them from one place to the other, which happens through traveling. For instance, you could travel to Florida or Africa, and end up moving these ill-famed parasites to your home.
Normally, they will hide in your personal belongings such as backpacks, luggage, clothes and so on. In fact, they are said to be excellent hitchhikers.
6. Tropical bed bug infestation is easily noticed
Identifying a tropical bed bug infestation is no different from that of a common bed bug. There are clues and sometimes clear signs that you may be sharing a home with these unprecedented guests. No matter how well they hide, Cimex Hemipterus can’t cover their tracks.
There are numerous ways in which you can tell that there are bed bugs within your household. First, it could be the biting that commonly occurs between midnight and 5 am. This may be hard to tell, especially if they have not multiplied to reach a significant number. Nonetheless, your skin is likely to be itchy every morning. In a short time, this becomes very unusual. Sooner or later you can tell that you’ve been sleeping with the enemy.
Fortunately, there are more revealing signs that you can easily notice. This includes dark spotting on the surface of your mattress, bedding and furniture surfaces with a clothing finishing. The spots emanate from their fecal droppings. Also, you might spot some red marks on your bright colored beddings. These are as a result of the feeding process that goes on while you are asleep.
7. Tropical bed bugs are not selective in their infestation
In terms of infestations, tropical bed bugs are not selective. There is a misconception that these pests are likely to be found in dirty areas. This is far from the truth. Tropical bed bugs can infest just about anywhere. So long as the conditions are suitable, these parasites can be found in any area, including prestigious five-star hotels.
But still, it helps to be tidy and avoid clutter around your house. You will undoubtedly reduce their hideouts by ensuring your house is in order.
8. Tropical bed bugs are fast breeders
A female Cimex Hemipterus is known to lay from 200-500 eggs per season. This happens in clusters. Large clusters can have about 50 eggs while the average one has around 20 eggs.
A tropical bed bug’s life cycle commences as an egg. An egg hatches into what is known as a nymph, which resembles an adult bed bug, but smaller in size. After that, it goes through about 5 stages of metamorphosis, commonly known as instars. At the end of every stage, it undergoes molting of the shell and finally becomes a mature adult.
After that, the adult Cimex Hemipterus is ready to mate and reproduce.
Since this process takes approximately two months only in suitable circumstances, these pests can multiply rapidly. If nothing is done to contain them, then their infestation becomes tremendously distressing to the host.
9. Tropical bed bugs are only interested in the host during feeding
Tropical bed bugs have a high affinity for carbon dioxide. This is their mechanism of telling that you are asleep. Carbon dioxide draws them out for feeding and as soon as they have had your blood to their fill, they return to their harborages.
These bugs have no intention of living or laying eggs on your body whatsoever. You are just a delicious blood meal for them. Otherwise, they find it quite hard to navigate on the human body, especially your hair. They only intend to spend about 3 to 10 minutes on you and that’s it. Not to say that they won’t come back for more blood when it is necessary.
10. Tropical bed bugs prefer to bite the exposed parts of your skin
Most pests are likely to hide in your clothes, but not these bed bugs. Cimex Hemipterus prefer to bite your exposed skin. These creatures are daring and horrifying as they don’t mind biting even your face. As long as it serves their purpose without you noticing, they’ll do so. This can be exceedingly unnerving for most people. They will go for your arms, thighs, legs, neck, and face.
11. Tropical bed bug bites may have far-reaching effects
As much as bed bugs are known for their unpleasant bites, they indeed can cause severe problems on the host. This includes anxiety and paranoia. If you find yourself at the center stage of ugly tropical bed bug infestation, you may still feel as though they are there even after successful extermination.
Professional pest fumigators may help you with this. In fact, you are likely to feel less anxious if a professional carries out the bed bug extermination process in your building.
12. Tropical bed bugs don’t live in beds only
It is easy to think that tropical bed bugs live in beds only. Unfortunately, that’s not true. These pests can live in most areas of a household.
So long as you spend some time on your sofa, it makes an ideal harborage for them. Other locations include carpets, wardrobes, planes, trains, buses, hospitals, and retail stores.
13. Eliminating clutter may help control tropical bed bugs
A clean house and a clean pair of bedsheets will not deter bed bugs from infesting your home. Nonetheless, eliminating clutter and sealing cracks can help control their infestation as this reduces their hideouts and makes it easy to flush them out. When this is coupled with an exemplary extermination plan, the chances of getting rid of these pesky pests increases.
14. Tropical bed bugs have developed a resistance to insecticides
There is a resurgence of Cimex Hemipterus as they have developed resistance to insecticides. Most of this resistance is attributed to a lack of penetration, which is backed by genomic and transcriptomic studies.
Tropical bed bugs have adapted, remodeled as well as thickened their cuticle. This has made it difficult for insecticides to penetrate and kill them. Besides, metabolic resistance has also played a huge role in their insecticide resistance. It is majorly a result of the heightened activity of various enzymes such as esterases and P450 monooxygenases that make insecticides redundant in the extermination process.
15. Heat treatment is one of the best extermination methods for tropical bed bugs
Chemical solutions such as pesticides have been used for many years to control the infestation of bed bugs. Though this method still works, it is somewhat flawed. Firstly, these pests are now becoming resistant to pesticides. Secondly, pesticides are hazardous to human health.
Nonetheless, heat treatment has come out as one of the safest and effective ways to exterminate tropical bed bugs. They just can’t withstand the high temperatures subjected to them during heat treatment. Furthermore, this method of extermination can kill their eggs, thus putting the infestation to a halt.
16. Tropical bed bugs are not afraid of the light
There is a misconception that these pests will not come out and bite you if the lights are on. As we pointed out before, their main attraction is the carbon dioxide and heat emitted by our bodies. With that being said, even if you sleep with the lights on, these daring creatures will still bite.
At some point, you will fall asleep and tropical bed bugs will detect the heat and carbon dioxide emanating from your body. This is enough temptation to draw them out and as long as they are hungry, they will bite you with the lights on.
17. Tropical bed bugs are predictable
Most pests will come on to you when you are not anticipating it. But the Cimex Hemipterus have predictable feeding habits. First off, it feeds at night when the host is asleep. This is mainly between midnight and 5:00 am. Also, they tend to live close to their hosts- on couches, headboards, box springs, bed frames, mattresses, crevices and cracks on plaster or wooden beds.
You may not realize that there are bedbugs in your home at first. But after some time, you notice that something is amiss. More so, you are likely to wake up feeling itchy and scratching yourself every morning. Soon you will see the bite marks. When the nights become uncomfortable, you are bound to find out that there is a pest infestation in your home.
18. Tropical bed bugs go through metamorphosis
Bugs Cimex Hemipterus goes through a metamorphosis process, which requires a blood meal. Otherwise, the process can’t be completed.
19. Keeping your suitcase close to the bed in hotels encourages a tropical bed bug infestation
Like we said earlier, bugs Cimex Hemipterus are great hitchhikers. They move from one place to another with the aid of human beings. Therefore, it is correct when you are advised not to keep your suitcase near the bed in a hotel.
Since these bugs like to stay near their host, the most common harborages in a hotel are the mattresses. If your bag is next to the mattress, then the bugs can easily find their way into your luggage.
When traveling, lay your suitcase on an elevated surface that is not covered by a cloth. The couch and other upholstery may be riddled with the tropical bed bugs.
20. The common symptom of the tropical bed bug bites is itchiness
After a long night of tropical bed bugs feasting on your body, the first symptom you’ll have to deal with is itchiness. Although it may not be painful, it will undoubtedly get you curious. And as you inspect your body, you will come across the bite marks.
21. Tropical bed bugs have an anesthetic agent in their saliva
Most of the times, you only notice that you’ve been bitten by bed bugs long after they are gone. This is not a coincidence. It is all part of the parasites feeding mechanism.
Their saliva contains an anesthetic to prevent you from detecting the feeding activity. Also, it buys them time to feed to their fill with minimum or no interruptions at all.
Due to the uncommonness of the tropical bed bugs, they haven’t been thoroughly studied. So, they are just treated like common bed bugs. However, there is much research going into this since the first tropical bug showed up in 2015. This happened at the Brevard Family Home in Florida. What surprised the scientists is that it was the first appearance of this parasite after disappearing for the last 70 years.
Research also indicates that the tropical bed bugs reproduce faster than the common bugs. For this reason, an infestation of this kind of bed bugs should be taken seriously. As soon as you come across their signs of existence, you should contact a professional exterminator.
The best way to protect your home from tropical bed bugs is to avoid them. But how can you avoid these extraordinary hitchhiking parasites? You should attempt to do so by thoroughly inspecting your hotel while traveling. Look for any signs of a bed bug infestation on the bed, carpet, and furniture. You can aim for the actual bed bugs or other common signs such as droppings.
To be more vigilant, you should be extra cautious as you get home. Remember, you can collect these parasites anywhere, including on the plane. So, as soon as you get home, inspect your luggage for these nasty creatures. If the coast is clear don’t get comfortable yet before you pass the clothes in your suitcase through the laundry machine. If the clothes are already clean, put them in a dryer for about 15-20 minutes. The tropical bed bugs will not withstand the heat as the fryer will kill them all, saving you from the psychological torture, and all the unpleasant experiences brought about by these creatures.