Bed Bugs- FAQ

Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on the blood of people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and are roughly the size of an apple seed or lady bug. They usually feed when people are sleeping or sitting in a relaxed mode, at night. Once fed, they turn dark red in color, and the bug will also appear bloated in the same way that fattened ticks become round after a feeding.

Bed bugs tend to stay close to places where people sleep or recline, and they typically don’t venture too far away from such areas.  However, as infestations grow, they may disperse and spread out. Bed bugs are not capable of flying, but they are expert hitch hikers allowing them to move from city to city, and home to home. They are also extremely chemical resistant.

Although bed bugs mostly feed on the blood of humans, they have also been known to feast on the blood of animals such as bats, chickens, cats, dogs, and rodents. They are capable of surviving for up to nine months without food.  

They are small (only about 1/4 of an inch in length), flat, and oval shaped with visible antennae and cone-like eyes.  They are wingless and usually reddish-brown in color, although they can sometimes be a lighter straw color. Bed bugs have six legs, and the upper part of their bodies contains gold-colored hair.  Juvenile bugs are significantly smaller than adults.

Immature bed bugs are called “nymphs.” Nymphs are small, and they shed their skins regularly before they reach adulthood. Nymphs must eat a meal before they shed, and they shed about five times before they become mature insects.

Bed bugs generally live in small groups as opposed to nests or hives.  They prefer to live near where humans sleep. As such, they can be found hiding in mattresses, bedding, bedroom furniture, curtains, stuffed animals, toys, and electrical outlets.

Bed bugs reproduce quickly. Females lay between 1 to 12 eggs daily, and throughout their one-year lifespan, produce up to 500 eggs. The eggs are sticky and white, and the female deposits the eggs into hidden locations, such as crevices and dark places. The eggs are laid in grouped clusters of anywhere from 1- to 50 in each group. The eggs are extremely small and difficult to detect with the naked eye. They generally take between 6 and 17 days to hatch. Once hatched, a young bug, also called a nymph, is generally ready to feed immediately.

Some people believe they are immune to bed bugs as long as they keep a clean house. This is not true. Any home or dwelling can become infested, regardless of how clean or tidy it is.

Bed bugs crawl out from their hiding places to feed on human blood at night. They insert their long beaks into human skin and suck out the blood. A feeding may take anywhere from two to ten minutes. The bugs typically feed on ankles, face, hands, arms, neck, or any place on the lower body where flesh is exposed. When the bug bites, it injects an anesthetic through its saliva. This anesthetic numbs the pain of the bite; as such, people do not know when they are being bitten. Once fed, the bed bug crawls back to its hiding place.

Within one to three days after being bitten, many people develop a welt or itchy bump on the skin. Some people do not realize that this mark is from a bed bug bite. Instead, people commonly assume they have been bitten by a mosquito or a flea.

There are a few warning signs that indicate the bites are caused by bed bugs such as bloody and dark-colored stains on sheets and bedding; shed skins; and possibly a slight sweet or musty smell (emitted from the bed bugs’ scent glands).

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease to humans or animals.  Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching and may increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

A bed bug bite affects people differently.  Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs to severe bite marks and swelling over the body. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts. However, these bite marks may take many days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting; bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets; rust-colored spots due to their feces; and a slight sweet musty odor.

When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line.

Bed bug bites affect people differently.  Some people have no reaction and do not develop bite marks. Other people are allergic to the anesthetic and react with bite marks and swelling.

The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine.

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and spreading a bed bug infestation.

The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation. If you suspect that you have bed bugs but aren’t certain, our CiMEX canine team will confirm their presence or absence in your home, and identify where they are hiding.  A trained and certified bed bug canine detection team provides the quickest and most accurate method for locating bed bugs resulting in the most effective resolution of bed bug problems as well as lower treatment costs.

Bed bugs are incredibly tough and resilient with one exception— they die quickly under high heat conditions.    Bed bugs in all life stages including eggs are completely eradicated when exposed to temperatures over 120°F for a relatively brief time period. For this reason, heat is absolutely the best method for achieving complete eradication of bed bugs at all life stages including eggs with a single treatment.  Please contact CiMEX to discuss our state-of-the art thermal convection heat treatment process designed for complete eradication.