Learn About Bed Bugs

Education is key to getting rid of your bed bug problem.
DIY bed bug solutions

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs, which are scientifically known as Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), are small insects with flattened dorsals. They feed on warm blood, making humans a perfect host. They start as nearly microscopic eggs and grow through five developmental life stages. At each immature stage (called nymphs or instars), they must consume blood in order to develop into the next stage. The whole process takes approximately 24 to 36 days with optimal temperatures (72 °F) and regular blood meals.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

It is very important to be able to distinguish bed bugs from other insects, since treatment options and costs may be very different, but people often mistake other bugs for bed bugs.

Adult bed bugs can be easily seen with the naked eye. They are reddish-brown in color and are approximately ¼ inch in length. Although they can move swiftly across horizontal and vertical surfaces, they don’t fly or jump. Unfed bed bugs resemble small flat disks, but after consuming blood they grow approximately 3 to 4 times larger. When fully fed, they are shaped like a torpedo with an elongated, brightly colored trunk. As their digestion progresses, their color darkens and their shape flattens out until their next blood meal.

A female bed bug can lay a few hundred eggs in her lifetime, but these are not deposited all at once; regular feeding and mating are required. Depending on temperature and other conditions, eggs hatch 3 to 10 or more days after being laid.

Eggs

Nymphs

Adult Bed Bug

Cast Skins

Blood Stains

Fecal Spots

The Physical Signs of Bed Bugs

Although bites can be a strong indication of bed bugs, they are not the best way to conclusively identify whether you have bed bugs. Bed bugs leave other signs that must be found to determine whether you have an infestation. Finding a live bed bug is best, but because of their amazing ability to hide, this may not always be possible. When inspecting for bed bugs, keep a look out for these other signs:

 Fecal Stains (Poop) – Bed bugs leave fecal (poop) droppings and stains. The larger the infestation, the more stains and droppings you’ll find. They appear as tiny “ink dots,” such as from a black marker or pen, and can be found just about anywhere. On surfaces that are impervious to moisture, such as tile, the droppings may bead up on the surface.

 Cast Skins – When bed bugs grow out of their skins, they leave the old ones behind. These normally look like paper-thin, opaque duplications of bed bugs. Depending on how long you’ve had an infestation, you may find different sizes of skin casts, since each growth stage before maturity is slightly larger than the previous one.

 Blood Spots – In addition to bite marks, you may find rusty-colored blood spots on your sheets, furniture, and surrounding walls.

 Peculiar Odor – You may notice a peculiar, rusty sort of odor. It comes from the bed bugs’ defecated blood and the oxidized iron in the digested blood. Odors are usually associated with bigger and longer bed bug infestations. However, like any scent, if you regularly spend time in the room you may become accustomed to the smell and not notice it.

 

How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Call In the Pros

Call an IBBRA-certified pest-control professional in your area to solve your bed bug problem.

Purchase DIY Products

Use one of IBBRA’s tested and proven bed bug DIY products.

Rent Bed Bug Heaters

Rent bed bug heating equipment to kill bed bugs yourself.