bed bug

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed Bugs (Cimex Lectularius) are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans. A full-grown bed bug can reach approximately 5 mm long and 3 mm wide and is reddish dark brown in color. For comparison, they are approximately the size and shape of an apple seed.

Young bedbugs, or “nymphs”, start very small, difficult to see with the naked eye, and go through 5 life stages to reach adulthood. Nymphs are translucent to tan in color and will grow darker as they grow older. 

Once bedbugs find a host, bedbugs will begin to nest and reproduce. Female bed bugs can lay 5-10 eggs a day and over five hundred in her lifetime. It takes eggs 6-10 days to hatch and less than a month for a newly hatched bed bug to reach maturity and lay eggs of its own.

Bed bug infestations start to become most noticeable after a month or two as the population rises and the bites become more frequent. A bed bug can theoretically live up to 18 months without feeding, however, this does not mean that bugs will lay dormant in your home for a year and then return. If there is food available, they will feed, and you will know they are there.

Want more information? Read the EPA article that has a wealth of good information on bed bugs.

How An Infestation Occurs:

With the bed bug population increasing around the country and around the world, bed bugs can and are found most anywhere. Infestations are not a result of uncleanliness, simply a product of bad luck. Although the exact source of an infestation is nearly impossible to predict, some of the most common causes for infestations are:

  • Public transit, medical facilities, theaters – essentially anywhere where another person sat down before you.
  • Travel: Bed bugs have infested hotels, buses and planes across the nation and can travel on luggage or clothes.
  • Adjacent dwellings infested with bed bugs.
  • Visitors to your home i.e. kids’ sleepovers, Uncle Eddie on the couch, etc. 
  • The purchase of second-hand furniture: especially mattresses, headboards, and couches.

How To Determine If You Have A Bed Bug Problem

1.  Are you waking up with itchy, red bumps on your body in rows or clusters?           

After a bed bug feeds, it often leaves a red welt about twice the size and with twice the itch of a mosquito bite. Many times, these bumps will be found in rows or clusters of 3-5 on your body. However, not all people react the same; in fact, one out of three people do not react at all.

2.  Is your mattress, box spring, or bed frame stained with black spots, especially in the creases and folds?

After bed bugs digest their blood meal  they excrete a black liquid feces, leaving groups of tiny black stains near their nest-sites, which is usually in cracks and folds around your sleeping area. Be sure to check near the baseboards and headboards as well as the mattress, box spring, and frame of your bed. The trick is to lick your finger or take a damp rag and run it across any spot you suspect may be a bed bug dropping. If the spot smears, it is likely a bed bug dropping due to the fact that droppings are essentially a dried droplet of blood. If it doesn’t smear or simply brushes away it is not a bed bug dropping.

3.  Are there tiny white spots on your bed or headboard?

Bed bugs lay tiny, white eggs that adhere to any surface. These eggs look like tiny grains of rice and can usually only be seen on dark fabric. Check for clusters of these eggs near cracks and crevices.

4.  Can you find any bed bugs or bed bug castings?

Strip you bed of linens and pull your headboard from the wall. Look in cracks, folds, creases, crevices, holes, and anywhere near where you sleep or rest for long periods of time. If you cannot find a live bed bug, you may find a casing. Like many insects, bed bugs periodically shed their exoskeleton, which is light tan and can be found near their harborage.

Still Not Sure? The EPA has a great page that gives detailed pictures and tips on how to identify bed bugs