Bedbugs are wingless, bloodsucking bugs of European origin, and have rarely been seen recently. This decline is due to better hygiene standards, however they are still found in some flats, hotels, motels and boarding houses.

Appearance and habits

The adult is a flat, round, wingless insect approx. 4 to 5 mm long. Their colour varies from reddish-brown to to purple as a result of a blood meal. The well developed legs allows them to walk up vertical surfaces except clean glass, and polished surfaces. The mouth parts are well adapted for piercing and sucking.

Being nocturnal they hide during the day particularly in cracks and crevices in walls, under loose wallpaper and in bedding material. Emerging at night to feed on their host. Large numbers of bedbugs create a “buggy” smell.

There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit any disease even though they feed on separate host.

Bedbugs are usually associated with old crowded low standard buildings however they may be found in even the most cleanest houses. They are spread by eggs attached to bedding, clothing and sometime furniture.

Life cycle

After a blood meal, the female lays her eggs in crack and crevices in the vicinity of the host. Eggs are cemented into place by a substance that is secreted from the body of the female. Ideally each female can lay up to 400 eggs.

The whitish egg is elongated with a distinct cap on one end. Depending on the temperature , the nymphs emerge 6 – 7 days later. The five nymph stage represent the adult except for size and colour. Each nymphal stage require one blood meal before it can move onto the next stage.

The duration of the life cycle varies with temperature, the life can last about three months.

After one blood meal a bedbug can survive up to 12 months with having to feed again.

Control

Good hygiene greatly reduces the possibility of bedbugs reaching significant numbers. As they usually spread through infested bedding, suitcases or clothing, care should be taken when moving these articles from infested areas to clear areas.

Even with good hygiene, chemical control may still be necessary to stop infestation of bed bugs. Where there are high populations of bedbugs, bedbugs will generally congregate under the button on a mattress. Here fumigation or disposal of the mattress is the best option.