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Bed bugs

Bed Bug Basics


In any fight, it helps to know your enemy. This information will show you what bed bugs look like, their habitats and how their life cycle works.

Bed Bug Anatomy

  1. Head
  2. Wing Pad
  3. Abdomen
  4. Antenna
  5. Clypeus
  6. Pronotum
  7. Leg

Bed Bug Appearance

Generally speaking, bed bugs are reddish-brown in color and have an oval-shaped body that’s about the size of an apple seed. They can be flat or, if they’ve recently fed, their abdomen can appear long which can often lead to misidentification.

Species and Habitat

Bed bugs infest homes, hotels and apartments by traveling on luggage, furniture and other items carried from an infested room to a new location. Bed bugs are good hitchhikers so typically an infestation begins when they’re introduced into one single room (motel, hotel or apartment) and can then spread to neighboring units. There are around 90 species of the bloodsucking insect family, including bed bugs. The family is called Cimicidae. However, only some species commonly feed on humans:


This is the most common species of bed bug – the cause of most infestations in the United States. Though this species is found globally, it is mostly located in subtropical and temperate climates. C. lectularius mainly feeds on humans, but will get blood meals from dogs, cats, birds and other mammals if there are no humans around.


Though this species has caused some trouble in Florida and California, it’s most commonly found in the tropics. Like C. lectularius, C. hemipterus mainly feeds on humans, but will feed on other mammals if necessary.


Bed bugs mostly feed at night while people are asleep. Bed bugs may feed in linear patterns, leave a singular bite or even a large cluster of bites depending on how many bed bugs are feeding. And depending on the person and how he or she reacts, bed bug bites may not even become visible on the body.

After feeding, bed bugs will retreat back to their hiding spots. While in hiding, they spend their time digesting blood meals, mating and laying eggs before heading back to the bed to feed again on average of two to five days. After hatching, new bed bugs need a blood meal between each of their five nymph stages.

Bed bugs are thought to be attracted to sleeping humans by cues such as carbon dioxide, human scents and warmth their bodies emit. If bed bugs can’t sense those three things, then they’ll search for blood meals in random patterns.

Bed Bug Life Cycle

Bed bugs typically live for seven to 12 months. Its life cycle includes multiple stages, maturing in about 35 days.

A single female can lay between one and 12 eggs each day and between 200 and 500 in a lifetime.

Common Bed Bug Questions

You asked. We answered. The following questions look at how these pests behave.

Where are bed bugs found?

Though beds aren’t the only place you need to worry about, nearly 70% of any bed bug infestation is associated with the bed and any furniture, pictures and baseboards next to the bed. You also need to worry about any upholstered furniture. Bed bugs like to hangout in cracks, folds and tucks in and around these areas.

Why are bed bugs becoming more prevalent?

Bed bugs, which largely disappeared from public notice in the United States in recent decades, have come back strongly since the late 1990s. Reasons for the reappearance are not clearly understood, but increased international travel and immigration are thought to have contributed to the rapid increase in infestations.

Are there DIY methods for bed bug control?

Technically, yes. However, it’s widely known that bed bugs are difficult to remove and control and DIY methods often fall short of removing or controlling these pests. That’s why you should contact a bed bug control professional for help. It takes years of experience and a comprehensive approach to successfully control bed bugs.

What do bed bug bites look like?

One possible sign of a bed bug infestation is bed bug bites. However, since some people do not react to bed bugs at all, and because their bites can look like bites from other insects like mosquitoes or chiggers, they aren’t the best indicator of an infestation. However, it still doesn’t hurt to know the signs and symptoms of a bed bug bite. Look for these:

  • Itching and burning
  • Raised, red welts
  • Rash across localized area

Can bed bugs make you sick?

Bed bug bites can affect different people in different ways. Bed bugs are usually not a major health concern as they are not known to transmit pathogens that cause disease to humans through feeding. However, some people may have an allergic reaction to bed bugs that can possibly require medical attention.

Why don't you wake up when bed bugs are biting?

Bed bug saliva contains an anesthetic that helps keep you from feeling the bite while the bugs are feeding. Their saliva also contains an anticoagulant which helps prevent clotting while they feed.

Travel Tips + Prevention

As mentioned before, since the 1990s, bed bugs have made an unfortunate nationwide comeback. Increased travel is believed to have contributed to their spread, as bed bugs are often transported by humans through clothes and luggage.

When traveling, you may want to check travel reviews before booking a room in a certain hotel. If there are multiple reports of bed bugs, it may be a good sign to book a room at another hotel.

Once you get into your room, you should carefully inspect it for signs of bed bugs before unpacking your luggage and getting comfortable.

Check the bed, bed frame, headboard, dressers, nightstands, baseboards and furniture for these signs:

  1. Blood spots
  2. Fecal stains
  3. Shed skin

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

As mentioned before, getting rid of bed bugs can be extremely difficult. Not only do they reproduce and feed relentlessly (see Behavior and Life Cycle sections), bed bugs can also hide many feet away from the bed, whether it’s in furniture, doorframes, baseboards or wall voids, until they venture back to the bed to feed.


First, be sure to have your infestation properly identified as bed bugs, as they can often be confused with bat bugs or swallow bugs. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between them, but a professional is specifically trained to do so.


Proper inspection is critical as well. Overlooking the smallest crack in the furniture can lead to an ongoing infestation. Bed bugs can hide inside, underneath and behind furniture so be sure to thoroughly inspect all of the following:

  1. Bed
  2. Headboard
  3. Nightstands
  4. Dressers
  5. Window frames
  6. Door frames
  7. Baseboards
  8. Carpet

NOTE: When bed bug populations become very large or when their host becomes scarce, they may scurry into nearby rooms in search for a meal.


For all the reasons mentioned above, professional treatment is recommended. The Bug Doctor bed bug specialists are trained to identify bed bugs, spot the signs of infestation and offer powerful and customized treatments that help remove the pests from where they live and breed.

  • The Bug Doctor will customize a treatment for your needs to quickly and safely remove bed bugs from the infested room or area.
  • If live bed bug activity is found in the initial treatment area within the 30 day period following the initial treatment, The Bug Doctor will perform further treatment at no additional cost.*
  • If mattress encasements are purchased and installed for each mattress and box spring in the home, this guarantee will be extended to 90 days.†

Schedule your bed bug inspection today.