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Bed Bugs

The Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius)


Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, is in the family of Cimicidae and is known for feeding on human blood which makes it parasitic. Other species (within the Cimicidae family) specialize in other animals such as bat bugs, and they can cause many body reactions which can bring concern t
o the public. Adverse effects such as allergic reactions, skin rashes, and major itching are some of the irritations to those who have become host to the bed bugs. Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases.

Taxonomy ranking: Insects (Insecta) »True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies (Hemiptera) » True Bugs (Heteroptera) » Cimicomorpha » Cimicoidea »Bed Bugs (Cimicidae) » Cimicinae » Cimex » Common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius)

Physical Description

bed bug legs
They are reddish brown at mature stage (they get darker red as they come closer to maturity) and lighter yellow at larvae stage. The body structure is flat when starved but become more round as they consume human blood. Bed bugs have lines that go horizontally across their abdomen area.  It's hard to see them when they're young (they're the size of the head of the pen) due to being so small and the color white They turn red the moment they consume human blood. Adults grow to 5–7 mm long and 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.118 in) wide. They are about as long as the word “LIBERTY” on a penny in mature stage[1]. Average home owners confuse them with fleas sometimes times due to being unfamiliar, but bed bugs are much larger.

How many legs does a bed bug have?

Bed bugs are insects and therefore have six legs which is good to know when trying to do insect identification. Many people also confuse the bed bug for a tick and can easily be distinguished by counting the legs alone. Ticks are Class Arachnida and therefore will have eight legs.


Do bed bugs infest?

Yes, and they can infest rather quickly. You can find them just about anywhere you can find the human body for several hours. Places such as the couch, mattress, a chair, the baseboard, electrical switchplates, wallpaper, inside your vehicle, a headboard to your bed, recliner etc. are the main places to find them when infested. They aggregate in bunches and come really close together when they infest within furniture. 

How quick do they reproduce?

Known for reproducing quickly, bed bugs have become one of worst pest due to reproducing just inches from your body in bed. An infestation from a single pregnant female can raise up to 5,000 bed bugs within six months [2]. Once they grow in number they can be easily be found within weeks of introduction to home. Eggs can be hard to find at first due to it’s size (being the size of the head on a pin). 

Life Cycle And Growth:

Source: Bed Bugs Appearance and Life Cycle

Host Searching

The life of a bed bug is to find a host. Once it finds a host though it may not look again for another 5-7 days. Once it becomes hungry again, then it will search once more for the host to begin it’s feeding. Once it finds the host, it feeds for about 10-15 minutes.[3] No matter what the situation though, it goes back to shelter before the photophase (period of light during a day-night cycle). If no food is found, survial rate is 6 months to 12 months without food [4]

Bed Bug Predators
Enemies of bed bugs include cockroaches, ants, the masked hunter insect, the Thanatus flavidus (spider), and centipedes (particularly the house centipede). Never consider this option as a way of pest control. Many times the predators are worse than the bed bug when it comes to human interaction.

How do you get bed bugs?

There’s no definite answer to this besides coming into contact with the host. You do this by sleeping in beds where they live, or rubbing against someone who might be carrying them, sitting in a chair (like in a theatre), or by bringing in furniture that has them already infested within it. By not washing clothes, before they find harborage, is how infestations begin. Also not inspecting travel bags from a hotel room could increase chances of transferring bed bugs to your home.


How to detect bed bugs?

At first you may notice bites on your body, and then you may notice blood marks on your bed. Black markings on mattress (or wherever you may find them at first) are also close by when bed bugs have infested. You may see their exoskeleton on the floor when performing your own inspection, and these are signs of bed bugs. There’s no denying you have them once you find them, because their known to crawl when searching for a host. Where there’s an abundance of bed bugs there comes an odor that many say smells like coriander.


How professionals perform inspection

If you have them at an early stage, it won’t be as evident. If you feel like you may have them due to small signs such as bites or blood marks, contact a professional pest control. Many use their own training as a way to detect bed bugs or even bed bug dogs. With a sense of smell stronger than humans, they’re trained to detect the odor that only bed bugs make. If you have lots of them, a professional can find them without the help of a canine. Due to resistance bed bugs have, we do not recommend anyone trying to take on bed bugs without a professional. 

How to prevent bed bugs?

Bed bug prevention chemical wise doesn’t exist, but there is ways to prevent bed bugs if you follow certain procedure. Things like never buying used beds, couches and etc. helps decrease chances of having a infestation. Also be careful where you sleep such as hotels, motels or places beyond your home. Bed bugs breed at highest degree in these areas due to people of all types coming together under one roof. Knowing who your kid’s friends are helps also. Your kid could be sleeping on a couch at a friends house not knowing what he’s bringing home the next day. It happens a lot this way. If you suspect bed bugs in your home, automatically start washing all your clothes. Clothes is #1 way bed bugs find their way within a home. Also wash bed linens if you suspect bed bugs also.

Are bed bugs dangerous?

The worst thing bed bugs can do to the human body is bring skin infection due to excessive scratching. [5] Allergic reactions can happen at this point and therefore would attention medically speaking. Biggest problem with bed bugs is that many find them to be annoyance.

Other Terms For "Bed bug"

The term “bed bug” may also be spelled “bedbug” or “bed-bug”, though most published sources use the unhyphenated two-word name bed bug more consistently. They have been known by other other names such as mahogany flat wall louse, crimson rambler, and chilly billies.

References: [1] Bed Bugs Appearance and Life Cycle, EPA [2] Bed Bug Reproduction and Lifecycle [3]Bed Bug Biology and Behavior, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech [4] Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets [5] What are bedbugs? Are they dangerous?, Scientific American (2009)