Bed Bug Biology and Life History
- Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that feed only on blood.
- Life Cycle by gradual metamorphosis (egg-nymph-adult).
- Bed bugs live in clusters and have a tendency to occupy cracks and crevices or other similar harborages.
- Bed bugs are active at night but will look for a blood meals under subdued lighting during daytime hours.
- Their bite is for the most part painless and will typically go undetected while they are actively feeding.
- One male can fertilize several females within 24 hours.
- When a suitable environment is located, females deposit small (1 mm long), whitish eggs, which are attached with a cement-like material to surfaces in the crevices where they hide.
- Once egg-laying begins, females will typically deposit one to five eggs a day. One female may lay 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime.
- Eggs take 6 to 10 days to hatch and the young complete five numphal instars before adulthood.
- At least one blood meal is required to complete development during each instar, as well as for the production of each batch of eggs.
- Bed bugs may feed as frequently as once a day during the nymphal developmental period. It takes three to 12 minute.
- Bed bugs make a series of bites in rows or fairly straight lines.
- The life cycle, under good conditions, takes four to five weeks and there may be four generations a year.
- Bed bugs will typically live up to a total of 316 days with normal room temperatures and an adequate food supply.
- Adults can live for several months and nymphs for up to three months without feeding.
- Bed bugs tend to live in aggregations in response to a pheromone that is perceived by chemoreceptors located on the antennal segments of both males and females.
- Bed bugs prefer to remain in locations as close as possible to their hosts and will establish themselves in the cracks, crevices, or seams associated with headboards, bed frames, and mattresses.
- Despite the fact that bed bugs prefer to hide as close as possible to their hosts, they will travel considerable distances to obtain a blood meal if no suitable environment is available.
- Wooden bed frames and headboards serve as excellent bed bug harborages but they will look for a more suitable harborage when a metal bed frame is present.
- Bed bugs seem to prefer humans, but will readily feed on birds, rodents, or other mammals (Usinger 1966).
- Flea bite and bed bug bites are similar in appearance, except that a red area does not occur in the center for bed bugs.
- Flea bites tend to be found around the ankles, while a bed bug feeds at night while the victim is lying down and sleeping, and thus their bites may be on the face, neck, arms, or hands.
- Many people show an immediate response to bed bug bites, a large oval or oblong inflamed spot or swelling, may occur as a result of an allergic reaction, followed by severe itching which lasts for several hours and is normally accompanied by inflammation.
- The bite is often nearly undetectable, but their saliva contains proteins that can cause a progressive sensitivity to repeated bites.
- Reactions to bites typically range from no reaction, immediate reaction, and delayed reaction, depending on the combined biting intensity and frequency.
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