Bedbugs are a growing problem in houses, apartments, motels/hotels and other public venues. All life stages feed on blood. These insects live in dark cracks and crevices in the vicinity of where people sleep or sit, such as overstuffed couches, only leaving these sites to feed. They only stay on the host long enough to feed. Bedbug bites cause itchy red papules. They are not known to transmit any disease-causing pathogen although some people can develop allergic hypersensitivity to their bite.

Bed bugs belong to the family Cimicidae. The most common species that attacks humans is Cimex lectularius, which is found throughout North America, Central Asia, and Europe. Bed bug infestations used to be quite common prior to WWII and the invention of DDT. Their populations have been steadily growing since the 1960's or so and are becoming epidemic in some regions of North America.

female bedbug

Adult bed bugs can be identified by their tan-colored appearance, oval body shape, and small size (less than a quarter inch long). Their bodies are flattened, and they are wingless. Immature stages resemble adults but are smaller, and lighter colored. Bed bugs require a single blood meal to molt the next immature stage and finally adults. Nymphs and adults generally feed at night and hide in crevices during the day. Adults generally live less than a year, and within that year, they can produce three to four generations.

They are called bed bugs because some common hiding places are mattress seams, box springs and cracks in bed frames. Signs of bed bugs are fecal spots on sheets, and an odd odor. Bed bugs feed for less than ten minutes and can take six times their original body weight in blood.

These insects are easy to transport in luggage and furniture. When staying in a hotel/motel check between the mattresses for spotting, particularly along seams. Keep your suitcase on the luggage rack and not touching the wall, or in the bathroom. One of the commonest sites for bedbugs to retreat is behind headboards affixed to the wall in front of the bed.

Names for bed bugs include:

  • Chinches de cama
  • Wall louse
  • Wallpaper flounder
  • Night rider
  • Crimson rambler
  • Red coat
  • Bed louse