Bed bugs, Cimicidae, are small parasitic animals that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Named “bed bugs” because of their preference for taking up residence in bedding where humans sleep, they have existed for thousands of years. Largely eradicated in the mid-1900s, they recently have made a resurgence and have returned resistant to many of the pesticides used previously to destroy them. Often they enter a home through the introduction of infested items such as furniture or clothing. Their return in the United States is commonly ascribed to more foreign travel as well as their stubbornness to certain pesticides. The primarily nocturnal bugs feed on humans biting them as they sleep, sometimes unnoticed, until the victim experiences a rash, often with allergic reactions. In addition to skin reactions, signs of bed bugs include fecal spots, blood smears on sheets, and molts. These elusive bugs nest in fabric folds and dark crevices where they also lay their eggs. Very difficult to see, the bugs emit a characteristic smell described as similar to almonds or over-ripe raspberries. Infestation often occurs before the bugs are noticed, and complete removal requires specialized insecticides best administered by professional services.
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