- Colour Dark brown or red
- Size About 6 mm long
- Description Small, oval-shaped insects that appear flattened, have no wings and hairy but leathery skin
How to identify Bat bugs
Like other members of the Cimicidae family, bat bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that also appear flattened, especially between feedings. Colouration is typically dark brown or red after feeding, and adults are normally around 6 mm in length . Bat bugs and bed bugs look so similar that in order to differentiate between the two, a microscope or magnifying lens may be necessary. The most distinguishing characteristic is that the bat bug has longer fringe hairs on the thorax-body than the bed bug.
Signs of an infestation
The most common sign of a bat bug infestation is the irritating bites the pests inflict. As the parasitic insects use bats as a primary host, the presence of the flying mammals may also be accompanied by infestations of bat bugs.
Since bats tend to roost higher than floor level, bat bugs also tend to hide in those areas. They usually come down to floor level only to feed and once feeding is done, they go back to their higher hiding spots. They will not remain near beds or in the typical places inhabited by bed bugs. For this reason, it is sometimes difficult finding or detecting them.
Bat bugs Removal
Bat bug control relies on eliminating both the host and the parasite. Exclusion methods should be used before attempting the removal of the host animal. To ensure the complete eradication of a bat bug problem, contact your local pest and wildlife specialist at Orkin Canada.
How to prevent Bat bugs from invading
Keeping bat bugs out of the home requires keeping bats out as well. Sealing off all points of entry and weatherproofing the home are effective methods of prevention. Caulk cracks and repair any damaged screens or roof-wall joints. Screen or cover roof and attic vents. Keeping the host animal out tends to prevent bat bugs from infesting most effectively.
Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle
Bat bugs are most commonly found in the roosts of their primary hosts, bats. The host animals tend to settle in the eaves of buildings, as well as in voids, cavities, and dark spaces such as attics and cellars. Bat bugs may also be found in homes, particularly if their host was nesting in between the walls but has since left the property. Interaction with humans then becomes possible, as the bat bug will need a new source of food.
Utilizing their extending and piercing mouthparts, bat bugs feed solely on the blood of host animals. They inject saliva into the skin while they feed, typically acquiring a blood meal within a few minutes. The young of most bat species are more susceptible to the parasitic insects, as the adults’ ability to fly limits their interactions with the bloodthirsty pests.
Females require a blood meal in order to produce and lay eggs. Bat bugs typically lay eggs in the same places where they hide, in crevices and on rough surfaces. After one to two weeks, the nymphs hatch and are able to feed immediately. Young bat bugs need to feed in order to moult and grow. Overall development from egg to adult takes up to two months, and multiple generations may occur within the year. Adults can survive for up to a year or more without a blood meal, depending on environmental conditions.
Commonly Asked Questions
Why do I have bat bugs?
Bat bugs are ectoparasites in same family as bed bugs. Bat bugs feed on bats and their blood, but if there are no bats around, they will feed on other host animals, including humans.
They are usually brought into homes by bats, who invade homes looking for somewhere to hang and rest, usually ending up in voids, cavities, and dark spaces such as attics and cellars.
However, if the bat leaves and a bat bug is left behind, it will then invade the rest of the home, looking for another host to feed on. Female bat bugs require a “blood meal” before laying eggs.
How worried should I be about bat bugs?
Bat bug bites do not spread disease but can cause skin irritation or, in some sensitive individuals, an allergic reaction to the proteins in the injected saliva. The bite itself may also become infected if scratched open.
Bat bugs reproduce quickly, with multiple generations being produced in just one year, meaning an infestation can quickly become serious. As well, adults can survive for up to a year or more without a blood meal, so even if you leave, they may not.
Eradicating bat bugs requires significant expertise and may also involve removing bats, which are both dangerous and a protected species in Canada. Dealing with any bat bug or bat infestation should be left to a professional pest control service.
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