Bed bugs – The unspoken could be sharing your bed. I started reading Brooke Borel’s book ‘Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedroom and Took Over the World’ (University of Chicago Press Ltd. London. 2015). I found the life cycle of these critters fascinating. Here are some extracts.
Their knack for concealment is why entomologists sometimes call them cryptic insects.
Some who have seen one say it resembles a drop of blood with legs… Adult bed bug is the size and shape of a lentil or maybe an apple seed. Whatever the comparison, the insect is a physical being. You can cradle it in the palm of your hand, look into its tiny eyes, and watch it march across your mattress.
From its hiding place in the bed-frame joint or the nightstand screw, it senses the carbon dioxide from your breath, the heat from your body, and, perhaps, some of the hundreds of other chemicals regularly emitted from your skin. It ventures out, scurrying across the floor, up the bed legs, and across the sheets. When the bed bug finds you, it grips your skin with clawed feet and unfolds its mouth — a long tube called a proboscis, also called a beak — to probe the flesh, seeking the best place to bite.
Once the bug settles on a vessel, it injects saliva packed with a cocktail of forty-six proteins.
An adult bed bug’s bite lasts around eight minutes, during which its flat body plumps to double or even triple its original size.
After a bed bug feeds, it concentrates the protein- rich red blood cells, squeezing the rest of the meal—mainly a liquid blood component called sera—out of its rear midbite. These drops and, later, the fully digested blood meal, fall to the bed sheets and dry as black stains, a telltale bed bug mark.
I was both fascinated and disgusted by Brooke’s book and this bed fellow.