Meet the Bed Bugs

Habits and Traits of Bed Bugs

A pest of the past? Not anymore. Bed bugs are?making a comeback. People associate this biting pest with filthy living conditions, but bed bugs are just as likely to live in clean, uncluttered homes.

Get to know the habits and traits of the common bed bug,?Cimex lectularius, so you will recognize this nuisance insect.

Bed bugs are also sometimes called bed lice, mahogany flats, redcoats, and wall lice.

Habits and Traits of Bed Bugs


The adult bed bug is oval, flat and only about a 1/4-inch long. They lack wings, so you won’t see them flying around your bedroom. Bed bugs use a proboscis to penetrate the skin of their host. Adults are brown, but appear reddish-brown when engorged with blood.

Young bed bugs look like smaller versions of their parents. First stage nymphs are colorless; with each molt, the nymph darkens. White eggs measure less than one millimeter in length and may be laid singly or in clusters of up to 50 eggs.

Although you won’t usually see bed bug activity during daylight hours, you may see?other signs of bed bugs. As nymphs molt, they leave behind their shedding skin, which accumulates as the population rises. Bed bug excrement appears as dark spots, and crushed bed bugs will leave bloody marks on bed linens.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Family: Cimicidae


Bed bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They usually feed at night, often on people asleep in bed and unaware of the insects biting them.


A few bed bugs can become a large infestation quickly. One?female bed bug?may produce up to 500 offspring during its lifetime, and three generations can live per year.

Imagine how many bed bugs you’d have in a year if just one reproductive pair finds its way into your home. As with any pest, knowing its life cycle will help you eliminate it.

Egg:?The female lays her eggs, usually in clusters of less than 50. She uses a sticky substance to glue her eggs to rough surfaces. Eggs hatch in one to two weeks.
Nymph:?The nymph must consume a blood meal before it can molt. It molts 5 times to reach adulthood. In warmer temperatures, the nymph stage may last just three weeks; in cooler temperatures, nymphs may take many months to mature.
Adult:?Adult bed bugs?live about 10 months, though some may live substantially longer.


Bed bugs locate their warm-blooded hosts by detecting exhaled carbon dioxide. The hungry pests can also sense warmth and moisture from the bodies of potential victims. Once the bed bug pierces the skin of a human or another host, it injects salivary fluid to prevent blood from clotting as it drinks. This fluid may cause an itchy, allergic reaction on the skin of the victim. Bed bugs have a habit of leaving several bites in a line along their host.


Bed bugs hide in the folds, crevices, and seams of upholstered furniture and mattresses.

They depend on humans, pets, or other animals for their food, so a suitable host must be available for regular blood meals. Once these pests find a meal ticket, they move in for good.

Cimex lectularius?lives in temperate climates, especially in the north.?Bed bugs infestations?are on the rise in North America, Europe, and Central Asia.

Read More:?10 Myths About Bed Bugs