Bed bugs are oval and flattened from the back to the underside with well-developed legs and wings absent.
Bed bug adults are about the size of an apple seed, measuring around 5mm long and can engorge to 7mm after feeding.
Younger life stages are much smaller; bed bug eggs are 1mm in length, which is about half the size of a grain of rice. Newly hatched nymphs are about the size of a pin head. As nymphs molt and grow larger, they become easier to see.
Their colour will vary, depending on their stage of life and also when they last fed. Early stage bed bug nymphs are translucent to straw-coloured, but will have a crimson-coloured center if they have recently fed.
As bed bugs get older, they darken, and bed bug adults appear as a mahogany brown colour, or a darker red if they are digesting a blood-meal.
Bed bugs feed exclusively on the blood of vertebrates with humans as their preferred host. They are attracted by multiple cues from their human hosts, including body heat, CO2 exhalation and human-specific odour.
A blood-meal is required for bed bugs to reach each life stage and to reproduce. When hosts are present and blood-meals are readily available, bed bugs will develop rapidly, and infestations will quickly progress and become unmanageable.
Bed bugs are very effective and efficient travelers. Bed bugs do not fly, jump or want to live on humans (compared to head lice who prefer to live in human hair). Bed bugs hitchhike on personal belongings such as luggage or backpacks, or in items such as used furniture, and are transported via humans to new places which they can then infest.
Bed bugs can spread out locally to infest adjacent rooms (in houses and hotels) or other units (in apartment buildings) by crawling into openings such as vents, electrical conduits of adjoining walls or even beneath doors into hallways to enter and infest other areas.
Bed bugs are found in anywhere from 4 star hotels to low-end motels, and in any home, regardless of the race, ethnicity, culture or cleanliness of its inhabitants.
Bed bugs are usually most active at night. They prefer to feed when you are asleep and less likely to move or wake up as a result of them feeding. However, bed bugs will adapt to take advantage of a food source. If you work at night and are home during the day, they can feed off of you during the day while you are sleeping. Even in a cinema, where it’s dark all the time, bed bugs will feed off patrons during the day.
Unfortunately, if bed bugs are present they will bite. There is really no way to stop them from biting if they are in your home.
Bed bugs have beak-like mouthparts (proboscis) that are specifically designed to cut skin and suck blood. The proboscis is kept tucked beneath the bed bug when not in use.
Bed bugs are sensitive to disturbance and will remove their proboscis to discontinue feeding if the food source moves, or becomes restless. Once settled, bed bugs will re-insert their proboscis and begin to feed again. This behavior can sometimes explain multiple bites in the same, or nearby, location.
Bed bug bites can be itchy and become inflamed, but generally do not require medical attention. If you are worried or think you are having any kind of reaction, contact a physician. As of right now, bed bugs have never been proven to transmit any disease organism to humans. Studies are always being conducted and this could change in the future.
The impact of bed bug infestations is almost immediate and deeply felt by the victims. Although bed bug bites do not transmit disease, the psychological side effects could linger in the minds of the victims for some time. Experiencing a bed bug infestation can be a very emotional and highly stressful experience.
For businesses, bed bugs can cripple an establishment’s reputation and result in a downturn in revenue. Bed bugs move around easily and can quickly reach an epidemic level if left untreated. Expert solutions are available as professional pest control companies offer the most reliable way to get rid of bed bugs.
Bed bugs prefer to live as close to their human host as possible (without actually living on the humans themselves) in order to easily access and acquire their blood meals. Since they prefer to feed on humans when they are sedentary, bed bugs will hide close to places where humans sleep or sit. Examples of these places include cracks or crevices in objects on night stands such as alarm clocks, behind chipped paint or torn wallpaper on walls adjacent to beds, on ceilings or behind wall hangings suspended above beds or couches.
When travelling, it is always a good practice to do a full inspection in your hotel room. Not only does it save yourselves the grief of being bitten all night long, it can also help prevent you from bringing bed bugs home and infest your own home. Start by looking out for bed bugs, cast skins, and faecal staining at these spots:
1. The mattress — including the corners, mattress cover, blankets and sheets.
2. The box spring — including seams, dust ruffles and attached bed frame or legs.
3. The headboard and wall hangings above the bed. Headboards can sometimes be removed from the wall and can be inspected. Check behind wall hangings, especially around the frame edges.
4. All accessible areas around the bed – including the night stand and any objects on it, such as an alarm clock, and lamp bases.
There are several ways to detect bed bugs:
An average person may miss some of these early signs. As infestations grow larger, it becomes more noticeable and beg bugs tend to spread out within a room. They can end up in unusual places such as behind baseboards on curtains, along ceilings, in electrical outlets, and behind picture frames.
It is not recommended for you to remove bed bugs on your own and should always seek professional help. Do-it-yourself (DIY) bed bug treatments are rarely effective. As bed bugs are experts at hiding, if you miss just one area with a few bed bugs, the infestation can bounce back and that makes the problem worse.
Our pest control expert will carry out an assessment for your bed bug problems and tailor the best options that work best for your situation.
There are no effective natural methods on the market for bed bug removal. It is recommended to get in touch with a pest control expert to remediate your bed bug problems immediately if you detect any signs of infestation.
Find out more about Rentokil’s bed bug control solutions.