Cimex lectularius, more commonly known as bed bugs, are small insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Humans can be perfect hosts for this hematophagy (feeding on blood), so bed bug populations can thrive and quickly become an infestation.
Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and can reside in tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, and bed frames.
Bed bugs are most active at night and bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. The face, neck, hands, and arms are common sites for bedbug bites.
Feeding takes about five minutes, after which the bug returns to its hiding place. Bites are not noticeable by the host until at least a few minutes or some hours afterwards. Hosts, for example humans, will be aware of a bite after scratching it. Often bites may not be noticeable for several days.
Bed bugs will feed every five to ten days. They can, however, last for several months without feeding. If there is no food around they can become dormant for over a year.
Bed bugs are on the rise across the UK with pest control companies reporting more call outs than ever before. An increase in foreign travel and resistance to the chemicals that kill them are being blamed.
They can be difficult to detect and complicated to get rid of. The key is to establish the extent of the infestation by consulting a professional pest controller.