What is a bed bug?
Bed bugs likely get their name from their habit of taking refuge in beds and feeding on humans while they sleep. Bed bugs feed only on blood and must have regular blood meals to survive and develop. Humans are not bed bugs’ only targets, they also will attack many warm-blooded animals, including poultry and other birds. Bed bugs have been associated with humans for more than 3,300 years and are found in virtually every place people tend to gather, including residences, hotels, schools, offices, retail stores and even public transportation.
Bed bugs are great “hitch hikers,” allowing them to travel long distances. They latch onto suitcases, clothes, and linens and can end up wherever these items are taken. This is why the spread of bed bugs occurs so easily. Furthermore, it’s often hard to identify bed bug bites, and they can easily be confused with bites from a different pest, making infestations difficult to detect and allowing populations to grow unnoticed.
Bed Bug Identification
Color: Unfed adults are mahogany; engorged bed bugs are red-brown. Nymphs are nearly colorless.
Shape: Flat, broad oval when unfed; swollen and elongated when fed.
Size: Adults are 1/4 inch long. Nymphs range from 1.3 mm to 4-5 mm.
Region: Found throughout U.S.
How to Identify Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are an oval shape and only grow to about 3/16th of an inch in length. Prior to feeding, they are brown and flat. After feeding, bed bugs become more red in color, swollen, and elongated. Bed bugs have 6 legs and 2 antennae. Despite having reduced “wing pads,” bed bugs do not have wings and cannot fly.
Adult bed bugs are visible to the human eye and can be detected by sight, especially within mattress seams and box springs. Bed bug nymphs can be harder to identify, as they are smaller in size and paler in color.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bugs are most easily identified by small reddish-brown fecal spots on mattresses, upholstery or walls. If these spots are found, it can indicate an infestation. Bites on the arms and legs are also a tell-tale sign of bed bugs. While these bites can be small, if they swell and become itchy, they are noticeable. It can take two to three days for these bites to appear, allowing the infestation to grow. However, bites alone do not indicate an infestation without other bed bug evidence.
Infestations can also be identified by sightings of bed bug molt skins, their eggs, empty eggshells, or the bugs themselves. All of these things are quite small, but still visible to the human eye.
Bed bug molt skins as well as their eggshells appear pale white after molting or emerging from the eggshell, respectively.
Bed Bug Infestation
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are extremely elusive creatures so professional help should be sought out when dealing with an infestation. Bed bugs are a very difficult pest to treat. In fact, 76 percent of pest professionals say they are the hardest bug to eradicate according to a recent NPMA survey. If you suspect or discover an infestation, contact a licensed professional to address the issue.