What does a bed bug look like?
Bed bugs belong to the family Cimicidae, within the order Hemiptera-the true bugs. There are two common species that feed on humans, namely Cimex lectularius and Climex hemipterus. Cimex lectularius is the cause of most domestic complaints and is known as the common bed bug. Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless insects, which are about 5-7 mm long. They are flattened dorsoventrally and this particular feature allows them to hide in narrow spaces such as into cracks and crevices. When unfed, they are pale yellow or brownish in colour, but after a full blood meal, they take a darker uniform ‘mahogany’ brown colour.
Why are bed bugs so successful?
Females lay their eggs in cracks and crevices. They produce an average of 2-3 eggs per day. During their lifespan that usually extends over a few months, each female could lay on average 400-500 eggs. The eggs hatch after about 12 – 14 days at 23 ℃ and give rise to nymphs. These newly hatched bedbugs also feed on the blood of vertebrates. Hatching could take place within less than a week if temperatures are about 27 ℃, and under low temperature conditions, it may be delayed for several weeks. The unhatched eggs could remain viable for 3 months. There are a total of 5 nymphal stages. The developmental time is greatly dependent upon temperature, food availability and relative humidity. Each nymphal instar would require one or more blood meals for further development. The life cycle from egg to adult can be as short as 3 weeks under ideal conditions. Adults survive more than a year without blood feeding. Bedbugs have piercing mouthparts formed into a proboscis, used to pierce the host’s skin. They have three pairs of legs that are slender but well-developed and with efficient tarsal claws for clinging on to the host during feeding.
Where do bed bugs live?
They can be found almost anywhere in your house or other buildings. They tend to like fabric and wood as opposed to metal and plastic. Places to look include:
- Bed Frames
- Head Boards
- Bedside furniture and other furniture
- Electrical fittings and appliances
- Underneath carpet edges and skirting
- Wallpaper and paint if loose
- Curtains and any wall hangings
It has been noted that bed bugs are commonly introduced in second-hand furniture and bedding, where the bugs often remain undetected for considerable periods until a suitable host appears. It is therefore strongly recommended that you get the furniture inspected and/or treated by a pest control professional to eliminate the risks of introducing an infestation indoors. Bed bugs occasionally crawl from one room to another, spreading the infestation throughout the premises.
What do bed bugs eat?
Both male and female bed bugs take blood meals and are thus equally important as pests. Blood provides them with the proteins necessary for their survival and for the production of eggs in females. They normally prefer human hosts to fulfil their blood requirements, but in the absence of people, bed bugs will also feed on a variety of other hosts, such as rabbits, rats, mice, bats, poultry and other birds.
What attracts bed bugs?
We do! During daylight hours, both adults and nymphs hide in dark and dry places, such as in cracks and crevices commonly found in furniture, walls, ceilings or floorboards, underneath seams of wallpaper and between mattresses and beds. At night, adults and nymphs crawl from these resting places to feed on sleeping people, after which they return to their resting sites to digest the blood meal.
How do I know if I have a bed bug problem?
Signs of a bed bug infestation may include:
- The presence of live bed bugs
- Blood spotting on bedding as well as walls and furniture
- Skin welts and irritation caused by bites
- Sweet musty smell (less noticeable except in extreme cases or up close)/
- Sheds skins (casts) and faeces
- How do I get rid of bed bugs?
If you suspect a bed bug infestation you should first ensure there is no chance of spreading the problem. Bed bugs are great hitchhikers so do not spread the infestation by moving bedding, furniture etc into another room. In extreme cases it may be necessary to isolate all equipment and materials that come into contact with the infected room. Even minor infestations from a chance transfer can become a major problem. The first essential step is identification of the pest and determination of the extent and level of the infestation. It is strongly recommended to consult a Professional Bed Bug Pest Control Company. When this is known the pest control company can assess the treatment options and their duration. An inspection for bed bugs may take far longer and be more detailed than for other pests. This is because the full extent of the infestation needs to be determined and the areas to be treated fully identified. Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed. However, if necessary, they will crawl several feet to obtain a blood meal. Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but the bugs eventually may become scattered throughout a room, occupying any crevice or protected location. They also can spread to adjacent rooms or apartments.
Are bed bugs harmful?
There is no evidence of bed bugs being involved in the transmission of infections or diseases to people, and they are therefore not considered to be disease vectors. Bed Bug Infestations can however cause considerable distress. Reaction to their bites is variable. Some people show little or no reaction whereas others may suffer severe reactions and have sleepless nights.