The common bed bug is visible to the naked eye. Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 1/4 to 5/8 inch long. Their flat shape enables them to hide in cracks and crevices. After a blood meal, the body elongates and becomes swollen. Eggs are not known to be placed on the host’s body but are found on surfaces near where the host sleeps or nests. Bed bugs have a beaklike piercing-sucking mouthpart system. Adults have small, stubby, nonfunctional wing pads. Newly hatched nymphs are nearly colorless, becoming brownish as they mature. Nymphs have the general appearance of adults. Eggs are white and about 1/32 inch long.
Although the preferred host is human, bed bugs will feed on other animals, such as poultry, mice, rats, birds, dogs, and cats if necessary. They normally feed at night, but may feed in the daylight in rooms that are not used at night. The life cycle stages of a bed bug are egg, nymph, and adult. The females lay about 200 eggs, usually at the rate of three or four a day, in cracks and crevices in the floor or bed. Females lay eggs after a blood meal. Eggs will hatch in one or two weeks into nymphs. Newly hatched nymphs begin feeding immediately. At room temperature, and with an available food supply, the nymph period will last 14 to 30 days. Bed bugs shed their skin five times before becoming adults. They will mate soon after becoming mature, so under favorable conditions, the time from egg hatching to egg producing will be four to nine weeks.
Bed bugs are not usually considered to be disease carriers. They do suck blood from their host with piercing mouthparts but the bite is painless. The skin may become irritated or inflamed due to the salivary fluid injected by the bed bugs. A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite. Bed bugs do not live under the skin. If you experience biting sensations during the day, it may be an allergic condition.
To prepare for treatment, a customer should: wash and dry all bedding at hot temperatures, remove all pillows and either dry-clean or replace them, inspect mattress for brown or black spots, and vacuum to remove dust, lint, and other matter from the mattress, its cover and the box springs. After vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag, place it in a sealed plastic bag and discard it.
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