Bed Bugs – What They Are (and What They Are Not)

There is a good chance you have encountered these little creatures before. Bed bugs love to hide in your beds and mattress and feast on human blood at night. Bed bug infestation is a fairly common household problem that can be quite harmful. But what exactly are these bloodsuckers even?

Bed bugs are tiny insects that reside in house beds and mattresses. They belong to the Cimex genus of arthropods. They are mostly active during the night and rely entirely on animal blood. Their bite does not directly spread any disease. But it can be a source of great pain and discomfort as they are common parasites.

Most people don’t know very much about Bed Bugs. But knowledge of the pest problem you have is essential in dealing with them effectively. And in this article, we dive deeper into the common bed bugs and see what makes them different.

Are Bed Bugs Arachnids

Bed bugs are not from the arachnid class of animals. Spiders and insects fall into the same category (phylum) of arthropods but are separate classes. The “Insecta” class also includes Bed Bugs, termites, and cockroaches.

You can easily tell the difference by counting their legs. Arachnids have eight legs in total (four pairs). On the other hand, insects have a total of six legs (three pairs). So, creatures such as spiders and ticks are considered to be arachnids. But the common bed bug is classified as an insect.

(And do they build nests as they are insects? Read all about Bed Bug Nests)

Are Bed Bugs Arthropods

Bed bugs are indeed arthropods. Arthropods are the largest class of creatures in the animal kingdom. They are characterized by their several pairs of joined limbs. They also have a segmented body and a hard exterior.

You can find these same characteristics in the common bed bugs as well. They have three pairs of legs (limbs) that are joined to the body. Their skin is hard due to the abundance of chitin (a type of polysaccharide). When you try to squeeze a bed bug, you will clearly feel the plate-like exoskeleton.

Are Bed Bugs Beetles

Beetles and bed bugs are not the same animal, though they belong in the same of insects. This is a common source of confusion among residents. The carpet beetle is also a pest that resides in carpets and mattresses. So, people think they are the same as bed bugs.

But carpet beetles do not feed on human blood; they feed on fabric such as wool. Also, the carpet beetle you find at home is actually the larvae (hatched eggs) of adult beetles. Adults also possess hardened front wings. This is also a primary feature of beetles.

Bed bugs do not have wings, so they are incapable of any sort of flight. Their feature is a mouth capable of sucking on other living animals. Their diet consists of only animal blood. So, bed bugs are not the same as beetles.

Are Bed Bugs a Parasite

Bed bugs are classified as a parasite. In fact, they are one of the most common parasites encountered by humans. 

Parasites are creatures that are entirely dependent on other living organisms (known as hosts). Typically, they possess a unique mouth that sucks food from a larger animal. And this usually leads to harmful effects on the host in various degrees. Some are mild and annoying. Sometimes the effect can be a deadly pathogen.

Bed bugs have all these qualities. They have a sucking type of mouth that feeds on blood (mostly human blood). Without this relationship, bed bugs would not survive for much longer. However, their bite is usually limited to irritation, red spots, skin rash, etc. In rare cases, this can lead to bigger problems.

(More about their bites: Do Bed Bugs Bite in the Same Spot?)

Are Bed Bugs Vectors

Vectors is a separate entity (living or non-living) that can transmit pathogen (organisms that cause disease) into other living organisms. Usually, the pathogen is not part of the vector’s biology. They are merely carriers.

Studies have found bed bugs can potentially carry around 28 different types of pathogens. However, none of these have yet to cause noticeable disease in the human body. Their bite cause rash due to an irritating substance that enters the body. But people have not reported any severe disease.

So, bed bugs are not vectoring of any infectious disease as of now. Scientists are still researching this topic. So, this information may change depending on future revelations.

Want to know more about Bed Bugs? Here are our most popular and exciting articles:
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Are Bed Bugs Termites

Termites are insects that belong in the order “Blattodea.” They are also pests and cause damage to house property. However, their threat is different from bed bugs.

Termites do not feed on human blood like parasites. Instead, they devour dead plants or wood to sustain life. This is how they damage floors, ceilings, and doors. They are not directly harmful to humans. But their property damage is a major concern.

Bed bugs only rely on living animals. They do not bite plants or materials such as fabric or wood. So, bed bugs are not termites.

Are Bed Bugs Scabies

On the surface, bed bugs and scabies share many similarities. This might entice people to conclude they are the same type of pests. They are both parasitic insects that feed on human blood. And they both cause discomfort, itching, skin rash, and general irritation.

However, there are some notable differences. First of all, you can see bed bugs with the naked eye. Scabies, on the other hand, is microscopic parasites that live off you. So, you will not even see them when they suck on your blood or breed.

Furthermore, scabies literally penetrates your skin and lays eggs underneath. These eggs grow up by feeding on the nutrients in your blood. In contrast, bed bugs sit on top of your skin and bite into the bloodstream. They do not need to go into your skin to eat.

Bed bugs are a common household problem many people face. While they do not transmit severe diseases, you still have to take them seriously. Chances are, they are the reason for your hampered sleep and the resulting bad temper. So, consider bringing in professional help to get rid of them.

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