Bed bugs grow to ¼ to 3/8 inch in length.
Bed bugs are generally reddish-brown in color and are wingless insects. They have an extremely flattened body except when they are engorged with human blood. They have a large, round abdomen, and a short mouth.
While the human bed bug is not associated with the spread of any diseases, its bite can have a serious effect on people who are sensitive to its saliva. Swelling and severe itching or other immune system reactions may be a common side effect of bites although the bite itself is generally painless. The human bed bug is nocturnal, feeding only at night when people are asleep. During the daylight hours it hides in any available crack, void or hole in the immediate area.
Bed bugs are nocturnal blood feeders and crawl onto sleeping human hosts to feed. They feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement takes about three to ten minutes. Bed bugs are very resilient and adults can survive for more than one year without eating.
Female bed bugs lay their eggs by gluing them to hidden surfaces and lay several eggs each day with a total of about 200 eggs. Eggs are deposited into bed frame cracks, behind headboards, inside mattress seams, in baseboards, trim and bedside furniture.
The presence of bedbugs may be determined by a sweet odor in the room. Bed bugs are increasingly being encountered in homes, apartments, hotels, motels, dormitories, shelters and modes of transport. International travel and immigration have probably contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the United States. Bed bugs do not fly, but can move quickly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Interior bed bug control relies on a thorough cleaning of mattresses and bed coverings, and a thorough application of a residual insecticide to all possible cracks, crevices, holes, or other hiding places in the room. Additionally, vacuuming with a high-powered vacuum will help to remove many of the hidden pests.