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Bed bugs aren't just bed bugs

Posted On: 11/01/2012

While many often associate bed bug dwelling habits with hotels, motels, hostels and inns, there's a reason they can show up in places like movie theaters, dressings rooms and schools, according to the University of Florida News.

Pests can live with minimal food
Bed bugs can not only survive, but thrive on much less human blood than previously believed necessary, according to a University of Florida study, which also found that in just 11 weeks, a pair of the blood-sucking parasites can spawn a large enough population to cause harmful blood loss to a baby. Populations only need four more weeks to significantly affect adults. According to the source, it takes only 3,500 feeding bed bugs to harm a baby and 25,000 to cause problems in an adult.

"By harmful, we mean it’s not killing you, but your body would be stressed," said Roberto Pereira, a research associate scientist of entomology to University of Florida News. "And when your body is stressed, all sorts of things can go wrong. Your blood volume would be low, your iron levels might be too low or you might become anemic."

Pereira and his colleagues tested how the bugs thrived depending on the availability of blood sources, and found that populations grew even when they experienced a limited food supply.

“Basically what we found is that they can live on a diet of weekly snacks,” Pereira said.

The researchers also found that uncontrolled, large bed bug populations can grow four times faster than previously thought in just 11 to 15 weeks.

A growing problem
Bed bug population in the U.S.have surged in the past decade, suspected to be caused by international travel, an increased resistance to pesticides and limited public health programs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The growing number of bed bug reports have prompted some federal, state and local government action. According to CBS News San Francisco, the city recently approved legislation that mandates property owners disclose bed bug history. This move comes as a result of many bed bug reports and complaints from residents.

Homeowners dealing with bed bug problems shouldn't try to tackle the issue on their own. According to the University of Florida study, pest control efforts that fail to kill more than 80 percent of a population are likely to be ineffective in ridding an area of bed bugs, making it extremely important for individuals experiencing an infestation to seek professional intervention from an exterminator.

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