usa | world | animals | vocabulary | health | science | math | history

The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) is the best adapted to human environments. It is found in temperate climates throughout the world and has been known since ancient times.


The copyright holder of this image allows anyone to use it for any purpose including unrestricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification.Adult bedbugs are reddish brown, flattened, oval, and wingless, with microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance. A common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eye, but adults grow to 4 to 5 mm (one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch) in length and do not move quickly enough to escape the notice of an attentive observer. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent and lighter in color and continue to become browner and molt as they reach maturity. When it comes to size, they are often compared to lentils or appleseeds.

Vampire bugs: Bedbugs are generally active only at night, with a peak attack period about an hour before dawn, though given the opportunity, they may attempt to feed at other times of day. Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, the bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents. Although bedbugs can live for up to 18 months without feeding, they typically seek blood every five to ten days.

Not so dirty after all: Bedbugs are often erroneously associated with filth. They are attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide, not by dirt, and they feed on blood, not waste. In short, the cleanliness of their environments has no effect on bedbugs. Their numbers may be reduced temporarily by vacuuming, but will recover and require vacuuming again.

Female bedbugs can lay up to five eggs in a day and 500 during a lifetime. The eggs are visible to the naked eye measuring 1 mm in length (approx. 2 grains of salt) and are a milky-white tone in color.

A few bedbug species make use of a mating plug, secreted by the male upon withdrawal after copulation, effectively gluing shut the vaginal opening of the female against later males. Among such species, the male impales the female via her abdomen, thus circumventing a mating plug.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License


 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Arthropoda

 Class: Insecta

 Order: Hemiptera

 Suborder: Heteroptera

 Family: Cimicidae