Bed Bugs

Characteristics Of The Bed Bug

The characteristics of a bedbug include that they:

  • are wingless
  • are half a centimetre long
  • have a flat, oval-shaped body
  • have six legs
  • are light brown in colour, changing to rust-red after a meal of blood
  • have a squat head
  • have large antennae
  • have large mouth parts (mandibles)
  • have a complex life-cycle involving many stages of development
  • have the ability to survive without feeding for months at a time
  • are susceptible to extremes of temperature.

Humans are the preferred host for bedbugs

Bedbugs live exclusively on blood. They prefer human blood, but will feed on other mammals if necessary. Bedbugs are attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide in expired air, which is how they find their host. Bedbugs commonly target the shoulders and arms.

During feeding, the bedbug’s proboscis (feeding organ) swings forward and downward to pierce the skin of the victim. Saliva (containing an anticoagulant) is then injected, which is the cause of an allergic reaction in some people. Bedbugs take around five to 10 minutes to feed. As the bedbug engorges with blood, its coloring changes from light brown to rust-red.

Common hiding spots for bedbugs

The living areas favoured by bedbugs include:

  • mattresses, particularly along the seams
  • bedding such as sheets and blankets
  • beneath loosened edges of wallpaper
  • between the cracks of wooden floors
  • in wall cracks or crevices
  • carpet
  • furniture, particularly in seams and cracks

Causes of bedbug infestation

Bedbugs often hide in luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. They are most often found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover such as hotels, motels, hostels, shelters and apartment complexes.

Any household can be invaded by bedbugs, but a high standard of hygiene can discourage bedbugs from spreading widely throughout a home.

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