Posts Tagged ‘bed bugs’

Bed Bugs Make A Comeback

click for larger image Panama City, Fla:
Good night… sleep tight… don’t let the bed bugs bite.  It’s a well-known bedtime rhyme and increasingly, a real problem.

Bed bugs hide in small cracks and crevasses, but they’re often found in mattresses and box springs – hence, the name.  Once thought eradicated, the lowly insect is making a comeback.

“We have a lot more calls today than we’ve had in the years past,” said Jimmy Strickland, owner of Gulf Coast Pest Control in Panama City.

Bed bugs hitchhike on suitcases, boxes and shoes in their search for food.  That food is the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts.  Adults are about a quarter-inch long.

“If you do an inspection and you look in the cracks and crevasses of your mattresses along the sewn edges… they are visible to the naked eye,” said Strickland.

According to the National Pest Management Association, there are several ways to prevent bed bugs.  Vacuum suitcases when returning from vacation; hotels and motels are breeding grounds.  Check bed sheets for blood spots – a tell-tale sign of their presence.  Never bring second-hand furniture into your home before thoroughly examining it for infestations.  And, regularly inspect areas where pets sleep.

A polyurethane mattress protector can also help.  “It will give a nice soft feel but it won’t allow the bedbugs to penetrate your mattress,” said Richard Branham, owner of The Sleep Center, a mattress retailer in Panama City.

Although do-it-yourself treatments are available, it’s a good idea to call a professional once bed bugs invade.

“It’s very intense and very time consuming and of course, the more knowledge the applicator has, the better chance of him finding the bugs,” said Strickland.

And it can be expensive.  According to Strickland, treatment can cost $300-$500.

“Usually it’s a one time treatment,” said Strickland.  “If they’re deep into furniture, in the cracks and crevasses of furniture… more than one treatment is necessary.”

Bed bugs don’t carry diseases, but their bites can become red, itchy welts.  Beyond that, they just don’t make good bedfellows.
   

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First Preliminary Profile of Proteins in Bed Bugs’ Saliva

ScienceDaily (July 12, 2010) — With bed bugs reemerging as a nuisance in some parts of the country, scientists are reporting the first preliminary description of the bug’s sialome — the saliva proteins that are the secret to Cimex lectularius’ ability to suck blood from its human victims and escape to bite again with risking a lethal slap. The findings, which could have medical applications in diagnosing bed bug bites and preventing the itch, appear in ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.


The saliva of bed bugs contains unique substances that could lead to vaccines to prevent allergic responses to the bugs’ bite. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In the report, Jose Ribeiro and colleagues point out that bed bugs have made reappearances in New York City, London, and other areas, sparking increased scientific interest in the allergic responses associated with their bites. Bed bugs belong to a group of insects that feed on blood throughout their lives and have been doing so successfully for at least 250 million years. That success depends in large part on proteins in their saliva, substances that make the victim’s blood vessels dilate (for a better flow of blood), inhibit clotting, and prevent immediate pain and itching that might evoke a lethal slap.

Using adult bed bugs from a government-maintained colony, the scientists removed salivary glands from male and female bugs, and analyzed the proteins to find unique enzymes that characterize the saliva profile of the bug. The substances could also offer insight into how insects evolved to a blood diet. “Independent of their function, these proteins may also be used for immune detection of humans and animals to bed bug exposure, or as part of desensitization vaccines,” the report says.