Adult bed bugs are approximately 3/16 inch long and reddish-brown in color. They are generally flat with an oval shape. Although once fed, they become plump and reddish-brown in color. Newly hatched nymphs are white to a pale yellow in color, until their first blood meal after which they become reddish-brown in color.
Bed bugs infest the humblest of homes and the most extravagant hotel or mansion. Bed bugs are bought into homes on infested furniture or in luggage and other personal belongings after staying in infested lodgings. In apartment buildings, townhouses, hotels and other connected dwellings bed bugs can migrate from one infested unit into other via electrical wiring, plumbing and adjoining walls.
Bed bugs generally hide during the day, coming out at night to feed on their hosts, such as humans, birds, or other family pets.
Bed bugs feed primarily on human blood, but they will also feed on the blood of poultry, mice, rats, birds, dogs and cats if necessary. If a host is not available, bed bugs can still survive for up to 365 days or more without a blood meal. During non-feeding periods, bed bugs will hide in cracks and crevices in close proximity to the host (e.g., mattresses, bed frames, headboards, box springs, behind wall hangings or baseboards, torn wall paper, bedroom furniture, etc.).
Bed bugs are most active at night, feeding while the human host is asleep. However, they will adjust their feeding habits to match the sleeping habits of their human host. For example, if the host works at night and sleeps during the day, the bed bugs will become day-time feeders. If the host begins sleeping in another room, the bed bugs will soon follow the host to the new location.
Feeding only takes about 5 to 10 minutes and is usually unnoticed by the host. Afterward, the bite may become inflamed and itch, but many people never react.
Life Cycle & Reproduction
Female bedbugs can lay up to five eggs in a day and 500 during a lifetime. Bed bugs can live for up to 18 months or more. Bed bug eggs are visible to the naked eye measuring about 1 mm in length (approximately 2 grains of salt) and are a milky-white tone in color. The eggs can often be found in dark, protected places such as under mattress, in box springs, walls, floor cracks, cracks in furniture, behind baseboards, under loose wallpaper and behind pictures. Eggs generally hatch in 7 to 10 days. At room temperature, development from the nymph stage to a sexually mature adult is about 5 weeks. A bed bug requires a blood meal for each of the five nymphal stages, as well as a blood meal by the adult female before she can lay eggs.
When a bed bug bites, it injects an anti-blood clotting agent into the skin. Some people have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites. The degree of itching is determined by how allergic a person is the anti-blood clotting chemical injected when the bed bug bites. If you notice any signs of infection, call your physician immediately. Scratching bed bug bites can result in an infection. Bed bug bites are generally just an irritating nuisance. It can take a few weeks for the itching to subside and for the welts to disappear. It is believed by most experts that bed bugs do not carry pathogens. However, this theory has never been proven or disproven.