Bed bugs are widely considered to be nocturnal insects due to their habit of feeding on the blood of sleeping human hosts during the nighttime hours. However, categorizing bed bugs as nocturnal pests is somewhat misleading, as bed bugs are well known for their ability to adapt to the schedule of their human hosts. For example, if a person works the nightshift and sleeps during the day, then bed bugs will have no problem feeding on this person’s blood during the daytime when the insects are exposed to sunlight. Bed bugs are mainly concerned with securing blood meals as easily as possible, so the insects naturally prefer to suck blood from sleeping humans, as sleeping humans remain largely immobile for several hours, and are not likely to wake up in response to bed bug bites. Of course, humans are not likely to suddenly awaken upon sustaining bed bug bites, as bed bug saliva contains numbing compounds that make their bites unnoticeable to most humans. Considering the cryptic nature of bed bugs, the insect pests are not easy to detect, but searching for bed bug “harborages” around furniture and bedding is often the most practical way to determine if a home is infested.
With the exception of their blood-meals, securing a safe area to hide in between meals is the most important aspect of bed bug survival. These hiding spots are often referred to as bed bug “harborages” by pest control professionals, and they are always located within close proximity to human resting spots, such as beds, couches, recliners and offices. Bed bugs spend most of their time within these harborages, which are usually established within narrow crevices in bedding and/or furniture. These harborages often see large congregations of bed bugs, which quickly causes a large amount of shed skins, fecal material and eggs to gather in these locations. Infested homes often contain several bed bug harborages that see congregations of hundreds of individual bed bugs of both sexes and all maturity levels. Researchers believe that bed bugs gather into groups in order to conserve water, and the insects even emit aggregation pheromones to summon other individual bed bugs to a particular harborage. Bed bugs have evolved alongside humans for hundreds of thousands of years, which has enabled bed bugs to avoid human detection. One way in which bed bugs evade human eyes is to use their aggregation pheromones to communally relocate to new harborage areas, but a vigilant search around couches and bedding should turn up active harborages. It should also be noted that abandoned harborages can sometimes be found in small crevices where fecal stains and shed skins have accumulated.
Have you ever found a bed bug harborage in your home?