Bed bugs are parasitic insects from the Cimicidae family. They live purely off the blood of a host animal. Different species of bed bug prefer to feed off the blood of particular animals, for example the Cimex Pipistrelli species in Europe prefer bat blood. The Cimex Lectularius and Cimex Hemipterus species prefer the blood of humans. Cimex Lectularius prefers temperate climates and are common in the UK and the USA. In Myanmar’s more tropical climate, Cimex Hemipterus are more common.
Bed bugs are attracted by their host by primarily carbon dioxide emitted when breathing, as well as warmth. They pierce the skin using a rostrum, a type of ‘beak’, and inject saliva that contains anticoagulants and anaesthetic. Bites can produce a small bump and, if repeatedly bitten in the same area, may create a small red dot. Bites may lead to skin rashes and allergic reactions, however, they are not known to transmit diseases or pathogens.
BED BUGS (Cimex hemipterus)
Bed bugs measure from 1 – 6mm in length, and are flattened from top to bottom (dorsoventrally). Large nymphs and adults are a reddish-brown colour, while the young nymphs are more usually straw-coloured.
BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOUR:
Female bed bug lay a few eggs daily, which they cement onto surfaces close to their harbourage, usually close to their host animal. After a week the nymph emerges from the egg, and then develops to the adult stage over a period of around 5 weeks. On a local scale, apartments can become infested by bed bugs crawling in directly from adjoining infested premises, mainly through electric wiring and sockets. Over longer distances, bed bugs may be carried into premises on infested furniture or luggage.
Bed bugs can be found wherever people sleep, including domestic premises, hotels, student or military accommodation, ships and even aircraft. They are usually hidden in cracks and crevices close to the bed, e.g. on the bedding around the mattress, in crevices on the bed frame, behind the headboard, or between the floorboards.
Bed bugs usually feed at night when the host is asleep. If deprived of a blood meal, bed bugs can survive for up to a year.
BITES – People usually become aware of bed bug infestations as a result of being bitten in bed at night. Bed bugs themselves can be found hiding in crevices during the day, but the more commonly-seen sign of an infestation is clusters of small black faecal spots around the bed bugs’ harbourages on the mattress or bed frame.
SMELL – Heavy infestations of bed bugs may produce a distinctive sour smell.
Please see our bed bug control page for more ways to spot the signs of a bed bug infestation.
In private residential accommodation, bed bug infestations can be very distressing, and may result in people throwing away much of their bedroom furniture and carpets. In commercial accommodation, infestations are very disruptive and costly to eradicate, and may result in guests making complaints and even claims against the owner.
Beware of bringing second-hand beds or mattresses into the home, as they may be infested. If bed bugs are suspected or seen, seek professional advice immediately, before they spread and become established.
For more ways to treat bed bugs effectively, please visit our bed bug control page
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