Bed Bugs (Cimmex Lectularius Linnaeus)
Bed bugs are insects of the cimicid family and feed exclusively on blood. They prefer warm houses and areas especially near or inside beds, bedding or other sleeping areas. Active mainly at night (occasionally at other times) they feed on the blood of the host. The host is almost exclusively human but may feed on pets or other mammals. Other common names are Mahogany Flat, Chinch, and Red Coat.
- Appearance: The adult bed bug is between 1/5-inch long and 1/8- inch wide, with a reddish brown to mahogany in color. The body is a flattened oval shape. After feeding, their shape is more elongated or torpedo shaped. Their appearance returns to normal after digesting their meal. Although not visible to the naked eye, its body is covered with tiny hairs and has a shiny appearance. Bed bugs have mouth parts that enable them to pierce the skin and suck blood from their hosts.
- Behavior: The female bed bug can lay as many as 3-5 eggs each day. They lay tiny white eggs that take between 6 and 17 days to hatch. They produce small, almost colorless nymphs that undergo a gradual metamorphosis before becoming adults. Each stage requires a blood meal to molt. Immature nymphs resemble adults but are smaller and turn bright red after a blood meal. The Nymphal period usually lasts from 14 – 30 days but may take longer if a host isn’t available. Soon after maturing, bed bugs mate and lay eggs. Adult bed bugs can survive up to a year or longer without feeding. Nymphs aren’t as hardy, but they can still survive a long time without eating. Bed bugs are nocturnal, and tend to hide during the daytime.
- Nests: During the daylight hours, bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices. Some of their favorite hiding places are in the tufts and folds of the mattress, it’s trim, the coils of the springs, and in the cracks and hollow posts of a bedstead. They’re attracted to the body warmth and carbon dioxide given off by the host and will try to stay close. They also like to hide behind loose wallpaper, pictures, door casings and baseboards, or behind and under the drawers of the nightstand. Bed bugs will also infest upholstery of chairs and sofas. Any place that offers darkness, isolation and protection can be a hiding place.
- What to Look for: Small trails of dried blood droplets on mattresses, box spring or bedding. Accumulation of red-brown stains in cracks and seams of furniture and bedding and molts (old skins cast off)
- Bites: Bed bugs generally feed at night. They prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person. Bites appear as a row of several raised, possibly reddened bumps that may become very itchy or painful. It may take up to two weeks to produce a reaction, or there may be no reaction at all. With their mouth parts, they are able to inject saliva and anticoagulants before feeding on the host’s blood. They also inject a painkiller so the host is unaware of being bitten.