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Bedbugs - What are They?
The common bedbug, known as Cimex lectularius, is found in moderate climates throughout the world and lives off the blood of humans. Adult bedbugs are a 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 however adults grow to 4-5 mm in length and do not move quickly enough to escape the notice of an attentive observer.
Bedbugs are generally active only at dawn, with a peak feeding period about an hour before sunrise. They may attempt to feed at other times, however, given the opportunity, and have been observed to feed at any time of the day. Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide (from humans), 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, and the first indication of a bite usually comes from the desire to scratch the bite site.
How Long Can They Live?
This is the essential question for hotel and home owners. Bedbugs can live for a year or as much as eighteen months without feeding. Typically, they will look for blood from a human host every five to ten days.
Do Bedbugs Indicate a Dirty Environment?
NO, bedbugs are often mistakenly associated with filth and the notion that filth attracts them. The fact is though, the cleanliness of the hotel or house/apartment has nothing to do with bedbugs being present. The main factor is the presence of humans as bedbugs are attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide and body heat, not by dirt. In addition, they feed on blood, not waste.
In most observed cases a small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bedbug bite. This is often surrounded by a slightly raised red bump and is usually accompanied by severe itching that lasts for several hours to days. Welts do not have a red spot in the center such as is characteristic of flea bites. In other cases, it is observed that welts first appear upon the incessant scratching that is triggered by the bite, and seem like a mosquito bite that increases in size upon scratching. Later, however, the welts subside but tend not to disappear like those from mosquitos, and persist for up to several weeks.