Facts About Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius L.)
Knowing What to Look for Is the First Step in Identifying and Controlling Bed Bugs
Bed bugs can be hard to find and identify, given their small size and their habit of staying hidden. It helps to know what they look like, since the various life stages have different forms.
There are many bugs that look like bed bugs so an accurate identification is a critical first step to avoid costly treatment for the wrong bug.
There are ways to control bed bugs. Getting good, solid information is the first step in both prevention and control. While there is no chemical quick fix, there are effective strategies to control bed bugs involving both non-chemical and chemical methods.
Appearance of Bed Bugs
Adult Bed Bugs
- About the size of an apple seed (5-7 mm or 3/16 - 1/4 inch long)
- Long and brown, with a flat, oval-shaped body (if not fed recently)
- Balloon-like, reddish-brown, and more elongated (if fed recently)
- A “true bug” (characteristics of true bugs include a beak with three segments; antenna that have four parts; wings that are not used for flying; and short, golden-colored hairs)
- Smelly, with a “musty-sweetish” odor produced through glands on the lower side of the body
Young Bed Bugs (Nymphs)
- Smaller, translucent or whitish-yellow in color
- If not recently fed, can be nearly invisible to the naked eye because of coloring and size
Bed Bug Eggs
- Tiny, the size of a pinhead
- Pearl-white in color
- Marked by an eye spot if more than five days old
Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs
A more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs. When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:
- Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
- Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
- Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
- Live bed bugs.
Where Bed Bugs Hide
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.
If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:
- In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains
- In drawer joints
- In electrical receptacles and appliances
- Under loose wall paper and wall hangings
- At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet
- Even in the head of a screw
- Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug
Bed Bug Behavior and Habit
Understanding the behavior of bed bugs (how they eat, live, and reproduce) will help you to find an infestation before it becomes established and to monitor for the presence of bed bugs after your home has been treated.
Bed Bug Feeding Habits
- Prefer to feed on humans, but will feed on other mammals and birds as well
- Will readily travel 5-20 feet from established hiding places (called harborage) to feed on a host
- Primarily active at night, but if hungry they will seek hosts in full daylight.
- Feeding can take 3-12 minutes.
- The rusty or tarry spots found on bed sheets or in bug hiding places are because 20% of the time adults and large nymphs will void remains of earlier blood meals while still feeding.
Bed Bug Life Stages/Mating
- Bed bugs need at least one blood meal before the individual bug can develop to the next of the six life stages
- To continue to mate and produce eggs, both males and females must feed at least once every 14 days
- Each female may lay 1 to 3 eggs per day and 200-500 eggs per her lifetime (6-12 months but could be longer)
- Egg-to-egg life cycle may take four to five weeks under favorable conditions
Bed Bug Living Conditions
- Bed bugs can survive and remain active at temperatures as low as 7°C (46°F), but they die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F).
- To kill bed bugs with heat, the room must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding.
- Common bed bugs are found almost anywhere their host can live.
Protecting Your Home from Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are great hitchhikers. They can move from an infested site to a new home by traveling on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing.
Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs can be quite resilient; they are capable of surviving several months to a year without feeding.
SERVPRO of Bear/New Castle Can Help Keep it Clean
Keeping a clean, tidy and uncluttered house can save you a lot of time and money by drastically decreasing your chance of bed bugs in the first place.