Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sof. Sof Wonders, “Do bed bugs actually bite?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sof!
We were walking past the Wonderopolis barn the other night when we overheard a mama cow trying to get her youngster to sleep:
Mama Cow: Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite!
Baby Cow: What? There are bugs in my bed? Are they fleas? Did the dog bring them in?
Mama Cow: Shh! Don't worry. It's just an old lullaby to help you go to sleep. There are no bugs.
Baby Cow: Why would you sing that to me? I'm going to have nightmares now!
Since it was close to our bedtime, we couldn't stick around to see whether Baby Cow was able to get to sleep. We hope he didn't have bad dreams, though.
Have you ever had an adult sing you a lullaby similar to the one Mama Cow sang? It's a popular bedtime rhyme that unfortunately has a bit too much truth to it these days. Why? There are real insects called bedbugs and they do bite!
Bedbugs, which go by the scientific names Cimex lectularius (common bedbug) and Cimex hemipterus (tropical bedbug ), are round, flat, reddish-brown bugs about the size of an apple seed.
Their name can be a bit misleading. You can definitely find them in beds under the covers and lurking in cracks and crevices in and around the mattress. However, you can also find them just about anywhere their tiny bodies will fit, including furniture, curtains, rugs, books, walls, electric outlets, and even electrical appliances, like radios, computers, and printers!
They can be found all over the world, although you didn't hear much about them in developed countries until the last couple of decades. Scientists believe bedbugs developed a resistance to pesticides that has helped them survive and multiply throughout North America and Europe.
Bedbugs can't fly or jump, but their paper-thin bodies can crawl 100 feet or more in a single night. And it's at night when they come out to look for food. What do they eat? Blood!
Yes, bedbugs are a bit like insect vampires. They bite humans to feast on their blood, which is probably why they like beds so much. Fortunately, their bites usually don't cause much harm to humans.
Bedbugs are not known to spread diseases, and humans rarely feel their bites. Afterward, you may feel an itch where you've been bitten. You may also see small red bumps that look a bit like mosquito bites.
Once they take up residence, they can be hard to get rid of. People can pick them up when they travel and stay in hotels. Bedbugs can live for months without food, which makes them great stowaways in luggage and clothes.
If you see evidence of bedbugs or suspect an infestation, it's best to get professional help as soon as possible. They can be difficult to get rid of, so the help of a professional exterminator is often required.