Bed bugs are tiny but dreaded nocturnal parasites that belong to the insect family Cimicidae. They are reddish – brown, oval shaped creatures that feed on the blood of their host. Bed bugs have a high reproduction rate and a female bug can lay close to 300 eggs in its lifetime which lasts between 9 to 18 months. A lot of people ask “ What Are Bed Bugs “. Up until recently most people in the U.S have not even seen Bed Bugs, including the pest control professionals. Before World War II, bed bug infestations were very common, but with the use of DDT, the bed bugs vanished for a while. Over the past ten years or so, the bed bugs have started to reappear again, especially in dorm rooms, private homes, schools and on all modes of public transport. You can also find them in movie theatres, public laundromats and even office buildings.
Bed bugs are small flattish insects that are brown in color and live off the blood of animals and humans. Although they prefer to feed on human blood, they will also target rodents, dogs, cats and even birds. Bed bugs date back to the medieval European times and have been mentioned in Greek writings too. Adult bed bugs are red-brown in color, while the nymphs are a lot lighter and a lot smaller in size. Some people have even mistaken them for twigs, cockroaches and other insects found indoors.
Bed bugs crawl on surfaces such as walls, floors, carpets and pretty much any other surface to get to where they need to be. Contrary to popular belief, they do not jump or fly. The females lay one to two eggs per day, and are able to lay hundreds in their short lives. The nymphs can hatch within a week at the correct temperature. They are similar to the color of straw when they hatch, unlike the brownish color of the adults. These nymphs are more or less the size of a pinhead. They have to feed on blood in order to shed their skin and can do this up to five times before reaching maturity.
In very warm conditions, these bed bug nymphs can grow to full size in around thirty days. Cooler temperatures can limit the amount of blood they can feed on, and therefore prolong their development significantly. Unlike other insects, bed bugs can survive for months at a time without feeding on blood. They thrive in temperature controlled environments like apartment blocks and offices. Vacating these spaces in the hopes of getting rid of them will not help, because they will just come back as soon as there is activity again.
Bed bugs choose to hide from humans during the day and tend to creep into places like headboards, cardboard boxes and mattresses. These shy insects are much more productive during the night. You will normally find bed bugs close to beds, couches and anywhere that people sleep. They normally live close to the places where they feed, but have been known to travel quite far in order to find a meal.
If you find what looks like reddish-brown smears on your sheets, you should seriously consider bed bugs of being the culprits. The stains can also be from the insects droppings, or from the nymphs shed skin. You will need to address this problem as soon as possible to avoid further infestation. Now that you know the answer to the question: “ What are bed bugs “, it might be a good time to consult our sections about signs of bed bugs and how to get rid of bed bugs.