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Pest Name: Bedbugs-Cimex Lectularis

Markings:Light beige, but dark mahogany in colour once fed.

Location:In construction/furniture, beds, headboards etc.

Detection:Visual sightings of adults.  Blood (faecal matter) spotting, complaints of bites around neck and waist.

General Information:Size - 4 - 7 mm overall body length.

Unlike other species of bugs, the bed bug is wingless.  It is thought that the species came from Asia, but they are now cosmopolitan, being found in all four corners of the world.  They were well known in ancient times in the Mediterranean area, but as they require a warm climate, they did not spread further north until the advent of heating in buildings.  When this happened, their spread became relentless.

Biology: Contrary to popular belief, mating takes place off the host in a dark harbourage.  The female will lay up to 200+ eggs in small batches of about half a dozen a day, attaching them to the surface as she moves along.  This species requires a minimum temperature of at least 11oC to hatch successfully.  Bed bugs show an incomplete life cycle; that is when the egg hatches, a small nymphal form of the bed bug emerges, rather than a larval stage.  The nymph will go through five or six moults, becoming larger each time, until it reaches a mature adult.  The full maturation process takes from 6 to 18 months depending on the temperature and the abundance of food.

Bed Bugs are blood feeders, and have a sharpened proboscis to enable them to take a blood meal from the host.  They do not feed exclusively on man, but will also feed on dogs, cats and even rodents.  They will take up to seven times their own body weight in blood at any one sitting, but this may have to last them for some time.  A feed takes about ten minutes.  Bed Bugs can go for many months without food.

They can crawl appreciable distances, but their senses are not capable of guiding them to a host until they come within 20 cm (8 inches or so) of their chosen host.  The urban myth that they hang from the ceiling is not true - they can walk upside down but will fall accidentally on the person below.

Reasons for Control: Bed Bugs are not thought to be frequent carriers of disease, but some pathogens may be transmitted during the biting action.  The main reason for their control are their bites - they release an anti-clotting agent which causes a sever itchiness.  The very presence of the insects is unpleasant, and they also have a pungent and distasteful odour.

Added to this is the social stigma of neighbours and other knowing that you have an infestation.  This is often associated with uncleanliness, but Bed Bugs are not fussy, and will just as happily feed off clean skin.

Wasps & Hornets have a potentially fatal sting

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