What are bed bugs?

Bed Bug Feeding

An adult bed bug feeds on a person

Bed bugs are small insects which feed on human blood by piercing the skin.  They seek out blood meals from humans, usually at night and are attracted to our body heat and the carbon dioxide we exhale.  They do not live on humans and they do not burrow in the skin.  Adult bed bugs are 4-6 mm in length, oval shape and dark reddish brown.  Juveniles are 1-5 mm long, depending on the growth stage and are cream color, becoming red to blackish after a blood meal.  Adult females can lay up to 5 eggs per day which hatch around 10 days later.

Bed bugs are very mobile, but generally only move short distances to feed (up to 3 meters) so are usually found close to a food source.  They are most commonly found on mattresses, particularly along the stitched edges where there are folds, which provide protection.  They can also be found in bed frames, behind bed head boards, in bed side furniture and floor joints carpet edges air conditioning ducts, lamps, picture frames, behind wall paper and other cracks and crevices that provide them protection.

Bed bugs are not known to be vectors of diseases, even though they are known to carry disease organisms.  They give off a distinct odor from glands in their thorax.  Both adults and nymphs are considered pests.

Bed bugs are a major pest of hostels, motels, hotels, restaurants, boats, trains, aircraft, and even private homes and apartments.  Their bites can cause irritation and allergic reactions while the stigma associated with their presence can cause loss of income in accommodation premises through both bad reputation and having rooms out of service for treatment.

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