Bed Bug Treatment
Bed bugs are in the insect family Cimicidae and include three species that attack people. Of these, the most important is Cimex lectularius, which may also bite bats, birds, and rodents.
Cimex lectularius is a cosmopolitan species, most frequently found in the northern temperate climates of North America, Europe, and Central Asia. It occurs more sporadically in southern temperate regions. In Florida and tropical regions it is replaced by C. hemipterus. Problems with bed bug infestations used to be quite severe, but with the use of DDT after World War II the incidence of these pests has been greatly reduced, although infestations still do occur. Currently this insect can be a pest wherever sanitary conditions are primitive, or if there are birds or mammals nesting on or near a house. Crowded and dilapidated housing can also facilitate the insect's movement between residences.
IDENTIFICATION AND LIFE CYCLE
Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless, about 1/5 inch long, and rusty red or mahogany in color. Their bodies are flattened, they have well-developed antennae, their compound eyes are small, and the area behind the head (the prothorax) expands forward on either side of the head. The immatures appear identical to the adults except for their smaller size, thinner cuticle, and a lighter, yellowish white color. Bed bugs are readily distinguished from another more common bloodsucking species, conenose bugs, by their smaller size, more rounded shape, and lack of wings as adults.
Female bed bugs lay from 200 to 500 eggs (in batches of 10 to 50) on rough surfaces such as wood or paper. Eggs are covered with a glue and hatch in about 10 days. After hatching, the egg shells frequently remain on the substrate. There are five progressively larger nymphal stages, each requiring a single blood meal before molting to the next stage. The entire life cycle from egg to adult requires anywhere from 5 weeks to 4 months, depending on temperature. When temperatures are in the range of 70° to 82°F, development occurs most rapidly. Nymphs and adults generally feed at night and hide in crevices during the day. Common hiding places include seams in mattresses and box springs, cracks in bed frames, under loose wallpaper, behind picture frames, and inside furniture and upholstery.
Bed bugs can go without feeding for 80 to 140 days; older stages can survive longer without feeding than younger ones. Adults have survived without food for as long as 550 days. A bed bug can take six times its weight in blood, and feeding can take 3 to 10 minutes. Adults live about 10 months and there can be up to 3 to 4 generations of bed bugs per year.