Family Name Cimicidae are a family of small parasitic insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm bloodied animals. They are most commonly known as bed bugs.
General characteristics Normally having two pairs of wings with piercing and sucking mouth parts that form a beak that is kept under the body. Metamorphosis is usually incomplete, comprising just egg and nymphal stages.
Pest control A thorough inspection of the premises is needed to establish the extent of the infestation and the means of eradication to be employed. Close inspection of bedding, the mattress and headboard will usually reveal their presence and a specialist aerosol spray can be used to drive them out.
Any infected bedding or clothing should be thoroughly laundered or burned.
The detection and treatment of bed bug infestations using recommended specialist insecticides requires experienced professional pest control experts.
Species Characteristics Click on the name to see the species characteristics of the different bed bug varieties.
Common Bed Bug - Cimex lectularius
Common Bed Bug - Cimex lectularius Adults are some 5mm long and reddish brown in colour although this turns to purple after feeding. They have well developed antennae and prominent simple eyes. Their feet are clawed allowing them to climb rough surfaces but not smooth ones.
Bed bugs can be found in human habitations across the world and humans are their principle host. They can attack other warm blooded animals however.
Other blood feeding bugs Blood feeding bugs similar in appearance to common bed bugs can also be found in bird’s nests and bat roosts. Click on the name for more information.
Pigeon bug - Cimex columbarius
Pigeon bug - Cimex columbarius Its principal hosts are birds and it is often found in starling’s nests, pigeon lofts and poultry coops. It can also attack man.
Martin bug - Oeciacus hirundinis
Martin bug - Oeciacus hirundinis Once again its principal hosts are birds and it is commonly found in martins nests. It can also attack man.
Areas where they are found Bed bugs cannot fly and rely on being passively transported on clothing, luggage, furniture, books or other objects. They have the ability to go for many months without feeding and this has helped their wide distribution across the world.
Typically bed bug infestations will be found in bedrooms. They stay near their sleeping hosts, in the bed frame or mattress, behind skirting boards or in furniture. They tend to appear to feed at night, often just before dawn.
These infestations often occur in areas of high population density and poor hygiene, particularly hotels, hostels and holiday camps, but they can be found in any domestic situation.
Bed bug numbers reach their peak towards early autumn and activity ceases during the cold winter months.
Significance as a pest Bed bugs do not carry diseases but their feeding can cause irritation and sleep loss as well as, especially in children, listlessness and iron deficiency. Their excrement can give a speckled appearance to affected bedclothes and there is often an unpleasant odour in an infected room.