Bedbug, an offensive insect about three-sixteenths of an inch long, with a roundish, flat body and rusty color. When touched it emits an unpleasant odor. The female lays her eggs in summer in the crevices of bedsteads, furniture and the walls of a room. The larvae are small white and semi-transparent, and grow to full size in about eleven weeks. The bedbug is fond of human blood, but thrives on other substances.
When New York City was the great cauldron of immigration; thousands of people arrived there in overcrowded ships having little or no sanitation. Bedbugs thrived in these conditions and were accepted as a fact of life, a little like mosquitoes. If you had them, you did what you could to rid yourself of them, but bedbugs were common. Health department regulations along with better sanitation, all but made bedbugs a memory. Until recently that is. Bedbugs are still a problem in other countries and that is proving to be a springboard to problems in the United States again. International travel, used furniture sales and lack of stronger insecticides are thought to be the cause of this re-infestation of bedbugs. Bedbugs hide in mattresses and dark crevices of furniture. They come out at night and feast on people’s blood. At present, no known diseases are transmitted by bedbugs but research will eventually discover their danger. They can wake people at night as they crawl over the skin to find a good place to suck blood. Itchy welts are usually signs of infestation.
A very old and toxic and dangerous for bedbugs is to spray the offending mattress set with gasoline or kerosene. Do not do this. In general, if you have an infestation, throw your mattress set out. Please take a waterproof marker and write directly on the mattress and box spring "Bedbugs" so no one else picks your trash or recycles your infested bedding.
The bedbug is an ancient and cosmopolitan insect, existing throughout the world. It has become wholly domesticated, and lives entirely in human dwellings, hiding away in crevices by day, and coming out to suck the blood of its unfortunate host by night. Normally its life round requires about three months, but it can exist for a long time in a house temporarily vacated. In cities it sometimes migrates from vacant residences to others nearby that are occupied. The young are similar in shape to the adults, and, like their parents, have a strong sucking beak.