Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.
Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust over a lifetime. Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before shedding. Under favorable conditions, the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year. Bed bugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping.
Signs of infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
– Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
– Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes and walls
– Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
– An offensive musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.
Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.