Though some treatment chemicals have kept them away over the years, the United States is seeing an upswing in bed bug infestation. Though the tiny black bug is becoming more common, and is easily identifiable, there are more than one type of bug to look out for when you pull back those sheets.
The Bed Bug
Bed Bugs, known in the science world as Cimex lectularius, are a tiny, quarter-of-an-inch pest that burrow in the creases of a mattress and wait until you're sound asleep to bite. Waking up with red bumps all over is a sure sign of these pests. Bed bugs can also be discovered easily by their smell, or if you see large groups of small black dots—they might be your unwanted house guest. To find them, especially when staying in hotels, use a flashlight, pull back the sheets and search for the little black dots.
Bed Bug Cousin
Another bug found in tropical cultures is the Cimex hemipterus. Most often this cousin to our well-known bed bug attacks animals, but a bug needs to eat, and it can attack humans as well when in the bed situation. These bugs come in contact with humans in places where not much care is taken to keep bugs out and people in.
Thanks to creases where the mattress meets the box spring, fleas find their way to beds, and eventually to humans and pets. Most often, fleas in beds come from an infested pet lying on or near the bed. Fleas in beds, though they cannot survive on humans, will bite.
Through the day, it's impossible to feel them, but we have skin mites living on us, feeding on the dead skin cells we flake off by the second. These bugs head to bed with us, and, in a way, are another bug in the bed. All night, as we shed and renew our skin skills, these mites eat our mess. Some of these mites specifically live around our hair follicles and get their fill of our natural oils. In most cases, no one will ever notice these mites. But in some cases, they cause serious skin conditions, rashes and dermatitis.
Dust mites are another bug that shows up in the bed. Many bedding producers make anti-dust mite covers for beds, as dust mites are cause for several different allergies. If you wake up every morning with a stuffed nose, watery eyes and runny nose, chances are you have a dust mite infestation and a major dust mite allergy. Vacuum the bed, place the cover and the dust mites should steer clear of the bed.
Some ticks can find a nice place to rest on between hosts on a bed. Especially if the tick was dropped from a host to the bed, the tick will lie in waiting until picked up by another host. A great way to prevent this is, after walking through tall grasses or under thickets of trees, have a partner search through your hair to see if a tick has latched on. Ticks also like areas around the ankles, waist and behind the ears.
Clover mites are an oval, reddish-brown creature that invade the home and eventually the bed. They do not bite or spread disease, but can cause skin irritation on people with sensitive skin. Exterminators are usually called to rid the house of the bug.
Kristin Jirovsky is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications where she majored in news-editoral journalism, English and women's studies. She has experience as a writer for college newspapers, community-based newspapers and corporate newsletter writing. Through volunteer work and a general love of knowledge, she has become quite tuned in with a wide array of topics.