Bedbugs are small nocturnal insects of the family Cimicidae that live by hematophagy. They feed on blood, mostly from people but are also known to feed on bats or other warm-blooded animals including rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, birds, bats and pets.
A mature bed bug is an oval-bodied insect, brown to red-brown in color, wingless and flattened top to bottom. The females are normally longer and wider than the males. Unfed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inch long and the upper surface of the body has a crinkled appearance. A bug that has recently fed is engorged with blood, dull red in color, and the body is elongated and swollen. Eggs are white and are about 1/32 inch long. Newly hatched bugs are nearly colorless.
Female bedbugs can lay up to five eggs in a day and 500 during a lifetime. The eggs are visible to the naked eye measuring 1 mm in length (approx. two grains of salt) and are a milky-white tone.
Eggs are deposited in batches of from 10 to 50 in cracks of bed frames, floors, walls and on rough surfaces. When fresh, the eggs are coated with a sticky substance that causes them to adhere to any object on which they are deposited. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks. The hatchlings begin feeding immediately.
Bed bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis (change in form) and the young resemble the adult. The young are called nymphs. They pass through five molting stages before they reach maturity and the nymphal period lasts about 6 weeks.
Bed bugs feed for a period of 3 to 5 minutes, after which they are engorged and drop off the host. They crawl into a hiding place and remain there for several days digesting the meal. When hungry again, they emerge from the hiding place and search for a host. If no food is available, the new nymphs may live for several weeks in warm weather, or several months in cool weather. Older bugs may go for 2 months or longer without food.
Bedbugs are very flat, which allows them to hide in tiny crevices. A crack wide enough to fit the edge of a credit card can harbor bedbugs (even in the ceiling). In the daytime, they tend to stay out of the light, preferring to remain hidden in such places as mattress seams, mattress interiors, bed frames, nearby furniture, carpeting, baseboards, inner walls and tiny wood holes. Hiding places can often be discovered by keeping an eye out for black or brown spots of dried insect excrement on surfaces on which the bed bugs rest. Eggs, eggshells and cast skins may also be found in resting places. In an early infestation, bed bugs are likely to be found only about the seams, tufts or folds of mattresses but later they spread to crevices in the bedsteads. In severe infestation they may be found behind baseboards, window and door casings, pictures and picture frames, in furniture, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster and the like.
Bedbugs are known for being elusive, transient, and nocturnal. The only way to detect and identify with certainty an infestation is to contact a Pest Control Professional