10 years ago there was very little research being done on the common bed bug. Today, because of the exterminator’s inability to easily control the pests, much more research is being done. One of the areas being researched is the human reaction to bed bug bites. I particularly appreciated the study entitled “[Bed Bugs] The Sensitivity Spectrum: Human Reactions to Bed Bug Bites” published in the february 11, 2010 edition of Pest Control Magazine. The jist of the article suggests that out of a survey of 474 people known to have bed bugs 30% stated they had no reaction to bed bug bites. The article goes on to quote other studies suggesting that older people do not react to the bites as much as younger people and that the first bite a person receives will often not have any reaction while subsequent bites do have reactions. Interesting material.
In my own practice I have seen these issues come up many times. Notably I will heat sterilize a bed, isolate the bed with traps, and the next day the customer complains that the treatment did not work because of “new” bites. I then have to explain the above studies to understandably skeptical customers. I also have noted some customers with massive infestations and no visible bites on their bodies.
We learn here that the presence of bite marks, the absence of bite marks, or the timing of bed bug reactions are not reliable methods for determining bed bug activity.