Bed bugs, known scientifically as Cimex lectularius (Cimicidae) are small wingless insects that feed by hematophagy – exclusively on the blood of warm blooded-animals. As we are warm-blooded animals, we are ideal hosts for them.
Over millions of years, bed bugs have evolved as nest parasites – inhabiting the nests of birds and the roosts of bats. Some of them have learnt to adapt to the human environment and live in our nests, i.e. our homes, and more specifically, our beds. Newborns, called hatchlings or nymphs, are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, while adults grow to about ¼ of an inch long. Their shape is oval and flattened. Both nymphs, eggs and adults are visible to the naked eye.
They are called bed bugs because of their preferred habitat in human homes: sofas, bed mattresses and other soft furnishings.
Bed bugs are seen as a growing problem within all types of dwellings, including private homes, dormitories, cruise ships, army barracks, and shelters.
Bed bugs breed successfully in various environments and circumstances. On 12th December, 2011, experts at SRI International reported that bed bugs can inbreed and still produce healthy offspring.
When seen close up they may have a white, light tan to a deep brown or burnt orange color. Just after molting, most of them are plain white. When they have had their feed a dark red or black blob may be observed within their body. They will instinctively seek shelter in dark cracks and crevices when disturbed.
Spotting signs of bed bugs
The biggest sign of bed bugs is people complaining of bites that occurred while they were asleep. If this happens, you should examine the bedrooms for bed bugs and signs of bed bug activity. Look carefully into the creases in the bed linen, and seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs for bugs or eggs. The eggs will look like tiny pale poppy seeds.
Signs of bed bug activity may exist beneath loose areas of wallpaper near beds, in the corner of desks and dressers, in the laundry, and in drawers.
Look out for dark brown or reddish fecal spots (bed bug droppings, excrement). If the area is very infested you may sense a coriander-like odor. The excrement is a liquid that looks either light brown or black that can either bead up or be absorbed by the material around it.
Dogs can be trained to sniff out live bed bugs or past infestations. A dog’s sense of smell is so acute that it can pick up the scent of a single bed bug
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