As if there aren’t enough reasons to not want bed bugs around, a recent study in the journal PLOS ONE gives us one more. Apparently, histamines left by bed bugs can linger in a home for several months after a successful bed bug extermination. While there is no direct link to what bed bug histamines can do to humans, enough studies have been done on histamines in general that make it reasonable to believe that these leftover histamines could lead to ongoing allergies for individuals living in a home that has had a bed bug infestation. Here’s what you need to know.
Bed bugs excrete histamines along with their feces as a way to communicate with each other. They leave these feces in the creases of mattresses and box springs, in the stitching of upholstered furniture, and in other areas of infestation. The study in PLOS ONE concluded that there was an average of 54.6 micrograms of histamines per 100 milligrams of dust in homes that had been treated for bed bugs. While homes that had not been treated had only 2.5 micrograms.
Histamine is a natural compound found in foods and also in the cells of the body. In the human body, it is a vital component of the neurologic and immune system and is linked to inflammation. For those who have a histamine intolerance, it can create many symptoms. The most common symptoms are headache, wheezing, runny nose, watery eyes, diarrhea, swelling, itchy skin, heartburn, and more.
Since histamines are released by bed bugs naturally, this problem of histamines is not linked to the type of treatment used to exterminate these bugs. Even a natural extermination process such as a heat treatment will leave a home with higher than desirable histamines. For this reason, it is important to hire a professional cleaning company to do a deep cleaning of your home or business after bed bugs have been exterminated by a pest control professional.
Bed Bug Prevention
With bed bug infestations in the U.S. continuing to rise, it is important for everyone to take measures to keep these hitchhiking bugs from spreading from one area of infestation to the next. Here are some practical ways you can guard against bed bugs:
Get to know what bed bugs look like
If you were to see a bed bug, would you know it? Are you sure? This bug has a variety of looks. When it first hatches, it is only about 1mm, pale in color, and has a transparent skin. If it has had a blood meal, you will be able to see the bright red blood inside its abdomen. You may also see its black feces inside its body. As the bed bug matures, it becomes tanner in coloration. Its skin becomes slightly less transparent, but you will still be able to see its feces and blood that is inside its abdomen. An adult bed bug, which you’ve probably seen on new programs, is rusty brown, oval, flat, and has horizontal creases on its abdomen. If it has had a blood meal, it will be bloated rather than flat and oval. While an adult bed bug is not as transparent as an immature nymph, you should still be able to see its black feces through its skin. Even at its full size, a bed bug is only about 4.5 mm in length.
Know the signs bed bugs leave
- Black patch, black streaks, and tiny black droppings on sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads, mattresses, box springs, upholstered furniture, backboards, baseboards, outlet covers, crown molding, and more.
- Shed skins. Bed bugs shed their skin as they develop. These skins can be found in any area these bugs are infesting.
- Tiny white eggs. You may see these as a batch or as individual eggs. They may be stuck to fabric or tucked inside a crease or some other hiding spot.
- Blood stains. These stains are often mistaken for urine stains, but insects don’t urinate. These tan or brown stains are from blood that is excreted when these insects defecate.
- Smells. Along with histamines, bed bugs also give off a pheromone scent in order to communicate. This smell is described by some as a moist towel that has been used to wipe sweat.
If you ever find a bed bug infestation in your home, and you are in our New Jersey service area, reach out to ChemTec Pest Control. While we don’t clean homes, we can help you take care of that bed bug infestation so those frustrating bugs aren’t biting you anymore. Call to learn more about our bed bug control options.