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What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Learn what these critters, which infest mattresses and other items, look like and how to tell if you have them in your home.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

There is nothing less conducive to a good night’s sleep than the idea of creepy crawly things inside your bed, not only crawling on your vulnerable, sleeping flesh but also literally feasting on your blood and leaving you to wake up with itchy bites.

When most of us were growing up, we thought bed bugs were a thing of the past, or part of a cute nursery rhyme said when tucking children into bed at night.

But for about the past 15 years bed bugs are back in a big way.

Where Did These Things Come From, Anyway?

There is evidence that early bed bugs, Cimex Lectularius Linnaeus, probably thrived in caves, with bats as their main source of blood. Once humans began to move into caves, bed bugs adapted and turned their tastes toward human blood. In spite of thriving in human bedding for hundreds of thousands of years, for the past 60 years or so, bed bugs have been relatively rare. Widespread use of DDT nearly wiped them out altogether. It’s now clear, however, that some bed bugs survived and resisted DDT, passing on that particular strength to their offspring to eventually facilitate an impressive comeback. Most countries stopped using DDT in the 1970s because of rising proof of its negative impact on wildlife. Some countries, however, have continued to use DDT, and it’s presumed that small colonies of DDT resistant bed bugs survived and were later spread back to the U.S. and other countries through travelers and imports. The rising popularity of airplane travel has helped to transport these adapted bed bugs all over the world, completing their resurgence.

Why Worry About Them Now?

The growing populations of city dwellers have also helped bed bug infestations to thrive by providing nearby sources of food. Apartment buildings, for instance, are a haven for these pests, as they can easily spread from one home to the next. Even if an infested apartment is treated, it may soon be infested again by related colonies in nearby apartments.

Many people mistakenly believe that a clean home is immune to bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, this is not true. Bed bugs can be transferred into even the cleanest homes through luggage if you’ve unknowingly stayed in an infested hotel room. Infestations can also occur if you’ve purchased used clothing, furniture, or carpets.

What Do We Need To Know?

Unlike previously believed, bedbugs are not only active during darkness. They actually follow the sleeping patterns of their hosts, meaning bedbugs in the home of a night shift worker will be active during daylight hours when their unfortunate victims sleep.

But how do you know if your home is infested with bedbugs? What do these previously mythical creatures look like?

Here are some tips to identify these pesky and persistent insects if you have the unfortunate experience of encountering them.

  • Bed Bugs are oval in shape and about the size of a lentil or apple seed when they’ve reached maturity. They have two antennae and six legs. The newly hatched nymphs are only about the size of a pinhead and much more difficult to see with the naked eye.
  • Bed Bugs are brown but may appear reddish after feeding.
  • Bed Bugs are flat, about the thickness of a credit card but become thicker and more oblong in shape immediately after feeding.
  • Bed bug infestations are sometimes identified by their droppings. Feces are small, black and resemble a poppy seed. Some bed bug feces will leave black or rust-colored stains on bedding and mattresses.
  • Bed bug eggs are very difficult to see with the naked eye, but by using a magnifying glass you may recognize them by their resemblance to a tiny grain of rice.
  • Infestations may also be discovered by discarded shells or casings. As bed bugs grow they shed their outgrown exoskeletons and these may be found in mattress corners, creases, and behind headboards.
  • Bed bugs may infest more than just your mattress and bedding. It’s possible to find bed bug colonies in furniture, carpets, in closets, and behind curtains.

It’s important to identify a bed bug infestation as early as possible in order to treat your home appropriately before the problem worsens. Contact a reputable pest control agency immediately if you see either live bugs or any other signs of an infestation.

And sleep tight!

Resources- WebMD, Science News for Students, Entomology at the University of Kentucky

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