What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs (also known as Cimex lectularius) are nocturnal parasites that usually feed on mammalian blood, particularly humans, dogs, and cats. They’ve also been known to feed on rodents.
Are bed bugs visible to the naked eye? What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are incredibly small – they’re typically around 6mm in length. So whilst bed bugs are technically visible to the naked eye, it’s not really possible to make them out in any great detail and they usually appear as ‘spots’. They have 6 legs and simple antennae.
Interestingly, the appearance of bed bugs will also change depending on if they’ve just fed or not. If they haven’t fed, their appearance will be flatter and they’ll be almost translucent. If they’ve recently fed, they’ll appear ‘fuller’ and will turn a darker mahogany colour.
Where do bed bugs live?
Bed bugs live in crevices in beds, furniture, wallpaper and skirting boards primarily. They’re nocturnal creatures, so this is where you’ll find them in the daytime. At night, they’ll emerge from their hiding places to feed on human or animal blood. This will typically occur every 2-3 days.
It’s a common misconception that bed bugs live on humans or clothing, but this is not the case. They tend to be drawn to the places that we’ve mentioned above, and will only jump on to humans when looking to feed.
Signs you might have a bed bug infestation
The most obvious sign of a bed bug infestation is the sudden presence of bed bug bites. These will usually present as raised red ‘welts’ on the skin. You won’t necessarily feel a bed bug bite as it happens, this is due to the fact that when they bite they inject a natural anaesthetic. It is this anaesthetic that will later cause the bite to itch. They also inject an anticoagulant when feeding to ensure that the blood doesn’t clot.
Other signs of a bed bug infestation include:
- Faeces – bed bugs tend to leave faecal deposits, which usually look like small black spots
- Blood spots – if you happen to crush a bed bug, it’ll leave behind a blood spot. If these types of spots appear on your bedsheets, you’re likely to have a bed bug infestation
- Shed exoskeletons/skins – as they mature, bed bugs will shed their exoskeletons (also known as moulting), these will be visible to the naked eye
- Physical sightings – Whilst they can sometimes be difficult to spot, it’s not uncommon to actually see a bed bug
- Odours – in extreme cases, you may actually be able to smell an infestation. This is usually an unpleasant but somewhat sweet smell – it’s actually a hormonal scent produced by bed bugs when disturbed
Are bed bugs dangerous?
Bed bugs are not necessarily dangerous, however their bites can cause discomfort and in some cases an allergic reaction. Anyone allergic to bed bugs may find that their bites induce a reaction which, depending on the severity of allergy, could prove to be life threatening. Bed bug bites are not known to carry disease, so this isn’t a consideration for this pest.
In extreme cases, a bed bug bite may become infected which could lead to a skin infection and cause further complications.
Where do bed bugs come from?
From a homeowner perspective, it’s likely that a bed bug infestation has been caused through the introduction of second hand furniture or bedding to a home. Bed bugs will simply migrate from one home to another through this medium.
However it’s also common to find bed bug infestations in hostels, hotels and a host of public transports. This is generally due to the large number of different people staying in these types of locations, which naturally increases the risks of bed bugs being ‘carried’ in.
Which bed bugs lay eggs?
As with many pests, the female bed bugs are the ones that lay eggs, but mating usually takes place off the host. Female bed bugs will attach up to 200 eggs to a structure, usually in increments of up to 4 or 5 per day. For these eggs to hatch, they must be kept at a temperature of above 10°C-13°C – so any environment that remains above this temperature (most homes/lodging businesses) are prime locations for bed bugs to breed.
When hatched, the nymphs (the term used for freshly hatched bed bugs) will resemble miniature versions of the adults of the species. They usually take around 5 moults (the shedding of their exoskeleton) to grow to full size. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the conditions and food supply.
Can bed bugs fly?
No, bed bugs cannot fly. They tend to get around simply from crawling along floors and walls and then attach to specific places (e.g. luggage). Once they’ve settled in a location, they’ll come out at night to feed on human or animal blood.
How do I remove bed bugs?
Bed bugs are notoriously one of the most difficult pests to remove from your home due to their size and the speed at which they’re able to multiply. It is possible to buy over the counter products to treat bed bug infestations but from our experience, these types of treatment rarely fix the issue.
The best way to ensure that bed bugs are removed from your property is to seek help from a professional pest control technician. We’ll be able to fully remove any bed bug infestation and will also provide you with a consultation to help you lower the risk of any bed bug issues in the future.
At Complete Pest Control, we’ve successfully dealt with a number of bed bug infestations over the years for both homeowners and businesses. If you’re currently struggling with bed bugs then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling or through our contact form.