Bed bugs are wingless insects that are oval in shape and 5-6mm long as an adult. They are a rusty brown in colour and change to a deeper reddish brown after a meal of blood. An Adult bedbug can live for 6 months at room temperatures of around 20C and much longer in colder climates. After mating, each female lays 2-3 eggs a day throughout her lifespan. The cream coloured eggs are approximately 1mm in length and will hatch within around 10 days at room temperature, but longer in cooler conditions.
Once the eggs hatch they are called nymphs. The nymphs are paler in colour and are approximately 1-4mm in length. Bed bugs have a flattened body and are a very secretive species which makes detection often very difficult, they tend to shelter in dark locations, mostly close to where people sleep. This includes under mattresses, floorboards, paintings and carpets, behind skirting, in various cracks and crevices of walls, within bed frames and other furniture.
Bed Bugs are found in virtually every place people tend to gather, including homes, hotels, schools, offices, retail stores and even public transportation; they travel easily and are transported via luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture.
The mouthparts of bed bugs are designed to pierce the skin and suck blood. They inject saliva during feeding, which enables them to thin the blood. Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide which we exhale.
Most feeding will occur at night, and they generally seek shelter during the day and become inactive while digesting the blood meal. They can survive for long periods without feeding.
How to Tell If You Have a Bed Bug Infestation
- Alive or dead bed bugs, and cast skins. Alive bed bugs will confirm that the infestation is currently active.
- Faecal spotting: This is digested blood by the bed bugs. It may be initially observed on the sheets, but will be commonly noticed along the mattress seams and beading of mattresses.
- Eggs: cream in colour, approx. 1mm, which tend to be laid in crevices in dark areas.
- Bed bugs can create a smell described as ‘sickly sweet’. This is usually noticed in areas of a heavy infestations or if close to the bed bug.
- Bites: If you are being bitten in bed it is an indication of an infestation, however not all bites will be from bed bugs.
- Blood stains on sheets or mattress.