Bed bugs come from the Cimicidae insect family. This group of insects is known for the fact that they feed solely on blood so they can reproduce and develop into mature specimens. Cimex lectularius or bed bugs are a species that feeds exclusively on humans which is why it is beneficial for humans to know more about them.
Bed bugs are a serious threat and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Once you learn more about them, we hope you will start taking this threat more seriously and know what to do in case you have an infestation on your hands:
Bed Bug Lifestyle
These nocturnal insects lead a pretty quiet life, which is why people don’t realize that they have them for weeks and sometimes even months. This is because they only come out at night and hide in small cracks of the bed structure, including box springs, mattresses, headboards, bed frames, and so on.
They can also disperse from the bed and find a new living space around it in the wall cavities, picture frames, underneath floorboards, in furniture, and so on. These insects can get into any crack and occupy it as their living space.
In these secluded and tiny cracks, they make their home during the day and emerge during the night to feed off their sleeping hosts. These bites usually can’t be felt and that’s why they are able to go undetected for a long duration of time.
What Do the Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are extremely small insects that have an oval-shaped body, two antennae, and 6 legs. Their colors can be very different depending on different factors, like how long it’s been since they last fed and how old they are.
Young bed bugs, also called nymphs, are almost colorless and see-through. The younger a bed bug is, the less color it has.
As the bugs grow older, they gain more and more color. Their color is usually brownish and the older the bug is, the stronger the colors will be. Additionally, when a bed bug has recently fed, it will also change color because of the blood in its system.
A mature bed bug can grow up to ¼ of an inch, while nymphs are usually anywhere from 1 mm to 4 mm.
Bed bugs have 5 stages of development during their life. To switch from one stage to another, a bed bug needs to have a blood meal. This means that it takes a bed bug 5 blood meals to go from a small nymph to complete maturity. With adequate conditions, a bed bug can go from an egg to a perfectly mature stage in a month or two.
Still, if they live in a cool environment and don’t have constant access to blood meals, their development will be hindered. Adult specimens can live from 6 months and up to a full year. In optimal conditions, a bed bug can produce around three new generations during a single year. A female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs every day, meaning that one will lay over 500 eggs during a lifetime.
To advance to a new stage of development, a bed bug needs to molt. To do this, a bug requires a blood meal. In case the bed bug doesn’t have access to a host to feed, it can live for several months before dying.
How Bed Bugs Feed
Bed bugs find their hosts by following the carbon dioxide that they emit. As they are nocturnal creatures, they come out at night and look for skin that is exposed during sleep to feed on the area. Still, if they have the option, they will also get blood meals even during the day. This is typical in heavy infestations.
Even though bed bugs primarily target humans as their hosts they will feed on other species as well if they’re warm-blooded. The feeding process usually lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. Due to their size and capabilities, a typical bed bug will only be able t bite up to three times before filling with blood and needing to digest before seeking out another blood meal.
If you recognize bed bugs in your home or you’ve picked them up somewhere while traveling, you should act quickly to stop the infestation. If you’ve been infested at a hotel or apartment, you might even have a legal case against the hotel or landlord. Contact Bed Bug Injury Law for a consultation about the legal process!