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Bed bugs are small, brownish insects that feed solely on the blood of animals. Although the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) prefers feeding on humans, it will also bite other warm-blooded animals, including dogs, cats, birds and rodents. It has done so since ancient times
Adult bed bugs are about 3/16-inch long and reddish-brown, with oval, flattened bodies. Their coloration is similar to an apple seed although their size is closer to a lentil. The bugs are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. Immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs don’t fly, or jump like fleas, but can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing one, two or more per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored materials. When first laid, eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperature, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. The newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead. As the nymphs grow, they molt, shedding their skin five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed between each successive molt. Adult females must also periodically feed in order to lay eggs. Under favorable conditions (70-80°F) and a ready supply of blood, the bugs can mature in as little as a month and produce multiple generations per year. Cooler temperatures or limited access to a host prolongs development. Given adequate resources, the average lifespan of a bed bug is about 10 months.
Bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the day, they tend to hide close to where people sleep. Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed.
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