It is essential to study the history of bed bugs in order to build a solid foundation of knowledge to deal with them better. A basic lesson in the history of bed bugs will also help one get an insight into their life cycle and habits to help eliminate them more efficiently.
Ancient history of bed bugs through the Ages
Bed bugs have always been around us; historians believe they might have existed well beyond the boundaries of recorded history.
The evolutionary history of bed bugs suggests that these pests might have emerged from related insect families that fed on bats. Thus, the history of mankind and the history of bed bugs might have first crossed paths in the ancient Mediterranean caves where civilization first began.
Bed bugs are now proven to have fed on our cave dwelling ancestors. Their evolutionary history can be traced to ectoparasites (parasites that feed on body surfaces) that have been associated with humans since the Stone Ages. Bed bugs may not have settled down in one place because these early humans were known to move around a lot for food and shelter, but life must have become a lot easier for them once cities and villages started getting established.
The ancient Greeks of 400BC (nearly 3000 years ago) were also known to have had dealings with bed bugs. Documented history of bed bugs indicates that Romans actually consumed bed bugs in some liquid mixture as a remedy for snake bites and other illnesses. Fossilized remains of bed bugs from 3500 years ago have also been discovered from many archeological sites around these regions.
The old saying “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” has an important place in the history of bed bugs. “Sleeping tight” refers to tight ropes tied around the sleeping man’s body to keep him tethered to wooden beds that had a net-like matrix design. This saying indicates that the medieval rope beds used in The Middle Ages might have been popular hiding spots for bed bugs.
Bed bugs then reached China and Italy in around 600 AD and Germany and France in the 1200s and 1400s respectively. They were seen not only in workmen’s huts but also in royal dwellings. Their comfort in these surroundings is attributed to the use of fire for cooking and heating which allowed them to live comfortably. The poor classes must have suffered more from bed bug bites, since the “linen and straw used for making beds were not changed as regularly as that in the richer households”.
History of bed bugs in the United States
In the United States, bed bugs are believed to have arrived from the sea with the European settlers. The native Red Indians may not have faced the bed bug issue, but early reports show that the bugs were certainly quite common in the mid 18th century European colonies.
Today, a great deal of research has been conducted on bed bugs. Infrared cameras and motion sensors placed inside rooms has helped us learn their habits and life cycle. It is still very essential to understand and study the history of bed bugs since this can give us important clues that can help in their complete eradication.