Bed Bug Facts
Common Name: Bed bug Scientific Name: Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)
Throughout recorded history the bed bug has been a notorious ectoparasite of humans primarily; but it has been observed to utilize poultry, canaries, sparrows, mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and bats as secondary hosts. It was introduced to the New World with the early European colonists and has worldwide distribution.
Adult bed bugs measure 3/16± inch (5-6 mm) long, are broadly oval and flat, and have vestigial wings (tiny wing pads) on the thorax. Bed bugs are amber-colored, red or reddish black, depending on whether or not they have fed recently. When present in sufficient numbers, the odor that bed bugs emit can be detected by a keen nose. More apparent evidences of bed bugs include the presence of fecal stains (clustered tiny black dots) in and near daytime harborages and the appearance of (sometimes itchy) welts at bite sites on those who are allergic to this insect’s saliva.
The bat bug, Cimex adjunctus, is a related species to the bed bug that may infest buildings occupied by bats for extended periods of time. A major difference between the two insects is that the hairs (setae) on bat bugs are longer than the width of the eyes, while the hairs on bed bugs are shorter than the width of the eyes. So, under magnification, the bat bug has a more hairy appearance than the bed bug.
Each female bed bug cements 3-12 eggs per day in cracks, creases, seams and corners associated with fabric, wood, gypsum board and other textured materials. Female bed bugs may lay 200 to 500+ eggs during an average lifetime. The pearly-white bed bug eggs measure 1/32 inch (1 mm) long and hatch in 6-17 days in warm, humid settings. Under ideal conditions of host availability, warmth and humidity, the hemimetabolous development (incomplete metamorphosis) may occur in as little as 35-48 days. There are 5 immature growth stages (nymphal instars) of the bed bug with a blood meal required for each molt. About 5 to 10 minutes are required for each blood meal, during which bed bugs inject a saliva containing an anticoagulant. [Bed bugs have not been found to transmit disease organisms from host to host through biting and feeding.] Once fed, nymphs can survive 51±23 days; while adults can survive up to a year on one blood meal. Therefore, being poorly fed can greatly prolong the life cycle (up to several years in some studies). Not all bed bugs in a residence will feed concurrently. They remain concealed until hungry. Although bed bugs are nocturnal, they may feed on a resting person in a darkened room during daytime hours. The activity threshold is 57±2°F. Below 61ºF adults enter semi-hibernation. The lethal heat stress point is 112±1°F.