Species category: Bed bug and Flea
Scientific name: Cimex lectularius
Adults are 5mm in length but they expand by 3-6 times after a blood meal. They are reddish-brown in colour, becoming purple after feeding and have well developed antennae with clawed feet which can climb rough surfaces better than smooth ones. Found in human habitations throughout the world. Bed bugs travel by hitching a ride with their host and despite the name, are found in more areas than the bedroom. They get into the home in suitcases, bags, second-hand furniture or laundry, and travel to find the right host.
Bed Bugs are exclusively blood-sucking, feeding on man and warm blooded animals. Some blood feeding bugs such as Pigeon Bug (Cimex columbarius) can be found infesting bird nests and bat roosts. Bed bugs bite the exposed skin of its host. It’s why they prefer humans to animals with fur. Experts at hiding, it is difficult to locate every insect. They are incredibly patient, waiting up to 1 year to find the perfect host for a blood meal. Bed bugs feed on a host for 5-10 minutes. They inject saliva that has anaesthetic and anti-coagulant properties, increasing blood flow and guaranteeing that the host won’t feel the bite.
Bed bugs are not vectors of disease but can be a nuisance when they bite. For some, bites can cause allergic reactions and secondary infections from excessive scratching of the area. They are so small it is incredibly difficult to spot an infestation and tricky to eradicate completely. This insect population grows fast and can destroy bedding and soft furnishings by staining with faecal matter.