Adult bed bugs are about 3/16" long, broadly oval and flat. Their color is brown to reddish brown (after feeding) and the upper surface of their body is covered with short golden hairs and emits an "obnoxiously sweet" odor from their scent glands.
Female bed bugs lay 1-5 eggs per day and deposit their eggs in cracks or on rough surfaces and secure them with transparent cement, for an average 200-500 eggs in a lifetime. Developmental time for an egg to adult takes 21 days.
Bed bugs must complete 5 instars before becoming an adult bed bug. The bed bug requires a blood meal before molting (shedding their skin cast) and progressing to the next instar. The adult female bed bug also requires a blood meal before egg laying.
Bed Bug feeding
Humans are the preferred host of bed bugs but in their absence bed bugs will feed on poultry, canaries, English Sparrows, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and bats.
The bed bug bite is painless but most people develop an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bug as it feeds. A swelling usually results from feeding but there is no red spot such as is characteristic with flea bites. Swelling may be severe and extend beyond the immediate bite area in highly sensitive individuals.
Bed bugs have been found to be infected with some 25 different disease organisms. Survival time within the bed bug was found to be especially long for the organisms of plague, relapsing fever, tularemia, and Q fever. However, there is no evidence that bed bugs transmit disease to humans.
Bed bugs harbor in cracks and crevices during the day and come out to feed at night. Typically they can be found around mattress buttons and beading, in box springs, or the coverings, and in any crevice of a wooden bed frame, such as where members join. Other places to check are wall hangings such as picture frames, night stands, stuffed furniture, baseboards, floorboard cracks, behind loose wallpaper, light switches, door and window frames, conduits, etc. In heavy infestations, bed bugs may be found in wall voids, attics, and other enclosed places. They will crawl considerable distance to obtain a blood meal. They can be introduced into a structure via furniture or in the belongings of someone who has been living in a bed bug infested situation. Adults 10-18 months can survive up to (1) year without food and they can feed on other animals if humans are not present. When temperature falls below 61 degrees Fahrenheit adults enter semi hibernation and can survive for months. Bed bug infestations have been found in transportation vehicles such as boats, trains, airplanes, and buses as well as movie theaters where they typically live in seats and associated frames.
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