(Ectoparasites, Order of Hemiptera, Cimex lectularius)


(Adult) Almost 1⁄4” long, flat oval, light tan to mahogany colored, paper thin before feeding, engorged and may appear to be dark to bright red after feeding, 6 thin short legs, piercing-sucking mouthparts, two moderately long slender 4-segmented antennae, considered wingless however has wing stubs therefore unable to fly, can deposit between 200 to 500 eggs and produce 3 or more generation per year, known to survive over one year without feeding.

(Nymph) Tiny, almost colorless and microscopic when first hatched, resembling adult, gradually increasing in size and color through 5 molts before maturing into adult stage usually within 35 to 48 days, can survive months without feeding.

(Eggs) White, slightly curved oval shaped, size of a pin head, usually hatch within one to three weeks, sticky when first deposited, attached in crevices or rough surfaces.

Hitchhike in luggage, cell phones,computers, clothing, diaper bags, furniture, shipping boxes, crates, etc. and on humans and animals. Cannot fly but capable of moving surprisingly quickly across surfaces including ceilings, carpet, and beds, etc. During daylight hours, hide and often commune in cracks and crevices including mattresses and bedding, bed frames, head boards and foot boards, baseboards, behind wall paper and electrical switch plates and outlets, furniture, and basically any place they can wedge their paper thin bodies into. Nocturnal, can withstand temperatures between close to freezing up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, can complete development from egg to adult in as little as one month. Attracted to carbon dioxide, indication of a warm-blooded body. Emits an oily-sweet odor from thorax glands.

Can crawl up to 100 feet in search of its only food source – warm blood, preferably human, but will feed on animals. Prior to feeding, saliva containing a natural anesthetic and anticoagulant is injected into the sleeping food host thereby allowing an essentially painless feeding to occur uninterrupted. Both male and female of the nymph and adult feed on blood, and may move around several times during its 3 to 10 minute meal. After feeding, crawls into a crack or crevice for a few days to digest. Bites can be all over the body especially in exposed areas such as face, neck shoulders, arms and hands.

Depending on the victim’s dermal sensitivity, the bite may leave no marking at all or in some cases may leave localized swelling or itchy welts leading to scratching and the possibility of infection. Although bed bugs can harbor pathogens in their bodies, there has been no evidence to date suggesting the transmission of disease to humans. Can cause sleeplessness, anxiety or stress in some people.