The human bedbug and its relatives form a small group of bloodsucking. Bedbugs are characterized by short broad heads. The head is attached to the prothorax and an oval body. The body, as a whole, is broad and flat, enabling the bugs to crawl between narrow crevices. The adults are 1/4" to 3/8" long, brown, and wingless. After taking a blood meal, bedbugs change enough in size, shape, and color so as to make them look like an entirely different insect. The immature stages known as nymphs, resemble the adults in shape, but are yellow-white in color.
The adult female deposits eggs in cracks, crevices, behind woodwork, and similar locations. Eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days with 10 days being the average. The newly hatched nymphs feed as soon as food is available. The average time for complete development of bed bugs in 1 1/2 months. Adults can live for a year or more. The bite of these bugs is often painless, but a toxic saliva injected during the bite will later cause severe itching and a large inflamed area often called a weal. Humans may vary widely in sensitivity to these bites. This bite can be distinguished from a flea bite by the absence of a red surrounding halo and the presence of a red central area within the inflamed area.
Bedbugs commonly move from one location to the next in infested furniture and bedding. Bedbugs also relocate by way of water pipes, gutters, through windows, along walls, and other such paths. Migrations often occur if a structure is vacated and their food supply is cut off. As an infestation increases, bedbugs will infest other areas of the home or structure.
Indicators of an infestation may also include blood stains on walls and bed linens excretment spots, and casts skins from immature stages. An odor resembling the smell of fresh red raspberries is associated with bedbugs.
BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR