What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed Bug Facts
- Has seen a resurgence over the past years
- Adults are approximately 4 to 5 mm long, size of an apple seed
- Does not have wings; does not fly
- Coloured reddish brown, with abdomen darker as blood is digested
- Males exhibit a much more tapered abdomen than females
- Reaction to bites vary from individual to individual, ranging from none to mild to severe
Habitat and Behaviour
- Prefers dark, undisturbed areas near host
- Hides in crevices in furniture and baseboards near beds
- Is attracted by carbon dioxide and warmth that humans emit
- Being mainly active at night time; not often seen in light, especially when few in number
- A potential problem in dwellings with high turnover (e.g. hotels and motels)
- Ability to move to different rooms in multi-unit buildings
- Often brought in on luggage or used furniture
Bedbugs are small, nocturnal, wingless insects belonging to the insect family of Cimicidae. They feed on humans and other warm blooded animals. They are an oval shape and are up to 4-5 mm long when fully grown. Adult bed bugs have a flattened body and their skin colour is either rust brown or a deeper red brown. Nymph bed bugs are clear or a yellowish colour and are generally 1-4mm long. Bed bugs have two antennae and six legs. Red more on what a bed bug looks like.
Bed bugs have been known to travel over 20 feet from hiding in order to feed but will generally hide within 3-6 feet of their host.
Due to the flattened body of a bed bug they can easily hide in small places such as baseboards, cracks in floors, under carpets, behind loose wallpaper, bed frames, sofas, behind picture frames and many other places which makes them very difficult to detect. They tend to stay together and large infestations will give off a sweet but unpleasant smell.
- Undergoes gradual metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult)
- Nymphs are smaller versions of the adults and will go through several molts until fully grown
- Female lays 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime, 10 to 50 at a time, on rough surfaces
- Eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days
- Adults can survive over 1 year without feeding
Read more about the bed bug life stages
Long since considered eradicated from major metropolitan areas in North America … bed bugs are back!
The combination of re-introduction, increased international travel and the fact that pest control professionals no longer use older pesticides (such as DDT, Chlordane and Lindane) means that bed bugs have been able to stage a resurgence and become a very serious pest in the 21st century. They have a unique ability to hide and due to their ability to spread, new inspection and control methods must be far more thorough and extensive than with many other pests.
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that live near their hosts. Since they feed on humans (their hosts) their habitats include houses, hotels or any property that we frequent. All they require is a protected area in close proximity to a feeding source. Bed bugs bite people when they are sleeping usually on exposed skin. When looking for a meal bed bugs can move very quickly to feed and then back into hiding after their meal. Unless you know specifically how to look for bed bugs these pests can be easily overlooked.
Bed bug bites can also go unnoticed, and are even often misdiagnosed, making detection that much more difficult.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs do not cling to people but they can accidentally get caught up in our belongings (i.e. suitcase, purse, laptop bags). From there they can move from their current home into new ones in homes, hotels, offices, hospitals, or any other building as well as modes of transportation. Sanitation and cleanliness of a property is not an issue as bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers and can show up almost anywhere.
Bed Bugs are not a Sanitation issue.
Even the cleanest of places can fall victim to bed bugs and once inside they spread rapidly. Bed bugs are great hitch hikers and easily travel from place to place in someone's personal belongings or luggage.
Is there a risk of disease from Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs do not pose any health risks from communicable diseases but their saliva does contain proteins that can leave itchy red welts on some people.
Indications of Bed Bugs?
If you suspect bed bugs, or want to be proactive, look for live or dead bugs or the skins they can leave behind when they are molting. After feeding bed bugs will regularly leave behind small spots of reddish-black fecal matter on your bedding, mattress or box springs. They will lay their eggs (1/32" to 1/8" in size) in dark crevices near feeding areas. Learn more about bed bug signs in your home.
Where have you been finding the bed bugs?
Bed bugs are not limited to any one particular kind of dwelling. They have been found in houses, multi-family dwellings, apartments, hotels, airplanes and hospitals. Sanitation or cleanliness is not an issue in where you can find bed bugs.
Why are bed bugs back?
Bed bugs never really left. They are common in many nations around the world. We are seeing a resurgence in North America for several reasons including a reduced use of pesticides, the use of second hand furniture and increased international travel as bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs do not cling to people but they are notorious hitch hikers and can hide in our belongings (i.e. suitcase, purse, laptop bags). From there they can be introduced into a home, hotel, office, hospital, or any other building as well as modes of transportation. Sanitation is not a factor in whether or not you get bed bugs.
How Do Bed Bugs Spread?
Once established, bed bugs tend to stay put but can spread due to any of the following;
- Being disturbed (i.e. disassembling furniture or incorrect pesticide application)
- A food shortage (i.e. no host) may cause them to migrate to neighbouring rooms
- A shortage of harbourage spaces may cause them to migrate to neighbouring rooms
- Infested furniture moved down a hall, or passed on to others
- Vacuum cleaners used for multiple rooms
- Commercial laundry machines
Quick Facts & Tips
- Bed bugs are nocturnal, feeding every few nights if a host is available.
- Usually reside within 3-6 feet of their hosts.
- Adult bed bugs can crawl about 4 feet per minute while nymphs can travel about a foot per minute.
- A complete feeding usually take between 3 and 10 minutes.
- Bed bugs can live for extended periods without a blood meal, averaging a life span of 3-18 months depending on feed frequency and living conditions.
- A life cycle, hatching from the egg to egg laying, is approximately 3-6 weeks.
- A single female bed bug can lay 100-500 eggs during her lifetime. This means over a period of 6 months an untreated infestation can result in over 30,000 bed bugs.