If you’ve ever suffered from a bed bug infestation, you’d know what a menace they can be to your everyday lives. There are many ways to get rid of bed bugs, from chemical removal to just allowing other insects to eat them.
But what eats bed bugs?
Before we answer that, we should look at what bed bugs are and how to identify them, so you can be sure you’re taking the right measures to get rid of them.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small and brown, oval parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals. As adults, their bodies are flat and are about as big as an apple seed. After they feed on blood, though, their bodies swell a bit and turn a reddish color. Though they can’t fly, they are pretty speedy insects and can move very fast over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs over their lifetime, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust.
Nymphs – immature bed bugs – shed their skin about five times before they can reach adulthood, and they need to feed on blood before each shedding. There is no specific timeline that these nymphs follow, and can mature fully in as little as a month if the conditions are favorable, and can produce three or more generations of bed bugs within a year.
They are a nuisance, since they are parasitic insects, but they are not considered to be dangerous in the sense that they do not carry diseases.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
Bed bugs can enter your house, hiding in luggage, clothing, or used furniture. Because they have flat bodies, it is easy for them to hide in tiny spaces such as between the cushions of a couch, etc. Bed bugs do not have nests the way ants or bees do, but they do tend to live in groups. Their initial hiding places are related to beds, such as mattresses, bed frames, headboards, etc. where they can easily access their meals. Hence the name bed bugs.
After some time, though, they may scatter around the room and move to other locations, or even other houses. Bed bugs live solely on blood, so finding them in your house is not an indication of dirtiness – they are as likely to be found in an immaculate and clean house as a dirty one.
When Do Bed Bugs Bite?
Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures and will usually bite when people are sleeping. They have an elongated beak which they use to pierce the skin and draw blood. A bed bug will feed for about 3-10 minutes before it becomes full, and will then leave. Their bites are initially painless but can become itchy welts over time. Bed bugs will bite any exposed area of skin. Their bites are similar to mosquito bites, so most people will only manage to identify them once they see the bugs themselves.
Signs of Bed Bug Infestations
If you wake up to seeing bites on your skin that you didn’t have before you went to sleep, you should consider the possibility that there may be bed bugs – particularly if you recently got a piece of used furniture (not necessarily a bed). Bed bugs will also leave bloodstains on your sheets and pillowcases, and you might even see dark, rusty spots on sheets and mattresses, as well as walls from bed bug excrement. There may also be eggshells, fecal matter, and shed skins in areas where they hide during the day. These bugs also release a musty, nasty smell from their scent glands that you might be able to smell.
If you suspect that there is an infestation on your hands, you should remove the bedding and mattresses and check thoroughly around and in the bed for the bugs. They are small and good at hiding, but because they live in groups, spotting them becomes easy.
What Eats Bed Bugs?
There are some insects and animals that will simply feast on these menacing creatures. Bed bugs have a number of predators that can get rid of them, but the unfortunate thing is that some of these predators, you don’t want to keep in your house either. Let’s look at some of them anyway.
If you thought your pets like cats and dogs could find and eat up the bed bugs for you, get ready to be a disappointment. The only time these animals would eat a bed bug is if it were by accident, because of their size. However, dogs can be useful in locating bed bugs.
The only natural enemies among animals for bed bugs are lizard species, such as geckos. In other cases, insects are often more ready to feast on bed bugs than animals.
Cockroaches will usually find a place for themselves in kitchen cupboards and pantries because it is a quiet place where they can always find food. They are disgusting creatures, and while they are good for a fight against bed bugs, nobody in their right mind would bring in cockroaches as a solution.
Cockroaches live in dirty places and move into our homes carrying many diseases, and will eat all kinds of things from your own crumbs that fall to the floor, and all the garbage you throw away. This is why they are attracted to dirty places where they can find leftover food.
Even if you were considering cockroaches to fight the infestation – hopefully, you weren’t! – they are simply not effective enough. Bed bugs reproduce much faster than cockroaches can eat them. But even then, cockroaches can pose much greater problems than bed bugs since they are disease carriers, and are disgusting, and can contaminate your living space even worse than the bed bug themselves.
Masked Hunters are a predator bug that hunts all kinds of bugs such as bed bugs – in fact; bed bugs happen to be their favorite meal! These creatures are about 17-22 millimeters and can fly too. However, some subspecies can carry diseases that can be dangerous, and while they do chase bed bugs, they may also bite humans if they feel threatened, and can also do so while you sleep. The bite of a masked hunter is extremely painful and can be compared to snake bites. They may be used against bed bugs in theory, but they can cause a lot of pain, and there are much better alternatives against bed bugs than masked hunters.
Not all spiders combat bed bugs, though some of them do. Compared to other bug predators, spiders are not a bad option and also have some pros to them. Spiders don’t often spread diseases to humans, and many don’t even bite. They will also inhabit bedrooms and hunt for bed bugs there, which is a pro against the other predators that tend to stay away from places more commonly inhabited by humans. While spiders are better than other kinds of bugs, most people are not big fans, which could remove them from the equation.
There are many ant species that feast on bugs, with the pharaoh ant being the best for this. The problem, however, is that these ants will reproduce very fast, and if you don’t handle them carefully, you’ll have to start worrying about an ant infestation more than the bed bug infestation. They can also contaminate your food and cause salmonella and dysentery, so they may not be the best option to use against bed bugs.
Centipedes are not insects – though many people don’t care about the difference – and are quite large. They can be up to 15 centimeters long and hunt all kinds of bugs. Centipedes like to live on their own – that is, if you have centipedes in your house, you will likely never see one unless it is out looking for a meal, and this, too, would only happen at night. Having a centipede in your home doesn’t sound very fun, though, because they are big and look terrifying and can even bite very painfully.
Some kinds of lizards can feast on bugs and solve the problem for you. Geckos are one such species and are champions at bed bug removal. The only problem is that geckos cannot live in all kinds of conditions, so if you want to keep a gecko in your home, you will have to keep it in very specific conditions and can’t move it anywhere you want. Not to mention, you will have to take care of it properly!
Do bed bug bites have any side effects?
The bite itself is painless and usually goes unnoticed. Though it may get itchy over time, if it is scratched, the area might become infected.
Where do bed bugs come from?
Bed bugs can enter your house with used furniture or bags that have been in infested areas. Sometimes, they can latch onto clothing and enter your house like that.
How to reduce bed bugs?
You can call an exterminator to get rid of these pests for you and make sure that anything you bring into your house does not already have a bed bug problem.