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Department of Entomology

Department of Entomology
123 W. Waters Hall
1603 Old Claflin Place
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506-4004

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Common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius)

Med.-Vet.>15572 bedbugs.jpg

Bed Bugs

Already this year, bed bugs have been found in homes in many counties in Kansas. Infestations do not arise because of uncleanliness, but usually from 'hitchhiker' bugs entering the house on items like furniture or luggage. International travel and the reduced use of DDT pesticides have been cited as probable causes for the common bed bug resurgence in the US. Professional help is recommended if a bed bug infestation is discovered, though they are not considered a disease threat.

Bed bugs are in the family Cimicidae, of which there are 74 described species. Three of these prey primarily on humans, though various other species can also feed on humans. Bed bugs are dorso-ventrally flattened insects with piercing/sucking ‘stylet’ mouthparts and no wings. Adults are about ¼ inch in length and reddish-brown in color.

By day, bed bugs often congregate in tight, dark hiding places – such as mattresses seams, wall baseboards, behind pictures hanging on walls, or even inside clocks. At night, they emerge from hiding to take their meal; usually from humans but sometimes from pets. These insects insert their stylets into the host and feed for 5-10 minutes. Though the bite itself is painless, it often later causes a red, itchy bump at the site. The presence of blood spots on bed sheets is a strong evidence of bed bugs’ infestation. If bed bugs cannot find a host, the adults can still survive for over a year without food!

Information was obtained from the Kentucky extension bed bug website: (http://www.ca.uky.edu/entfacts/ef636.asp) and from Usinger, R.L. 1966. Monograph of Cimicidae. Thomas Say Foundation, Vol. VII, Entomological Society of America, College Park.

August, 2007 -- Elizabeth Murray, Extension Entomology Diagnostician, gotbugs@ksu.edu .