The adult bed bug resembles a small brown disc, about 3.5mm long the size of a match head. It is wingless but has well developed legs meaning that it can crawl up most vertical surfaces.
The incidents of bed bugs are now much increased. They are often found in multi-occupancy buildings with rapid resident turnover, such as hostels, holiday camps and blocks of flats.
Bedbugs are a significant pest to humans because they feed on blood. They emerge to feed mostly at night while their “hosts” are sleeping. Their bite can cause severe local irritation and itching and there is also a possibility of secondary infection. Sites with a high level of infestation present a risk of anaemia for the human host.
The female bed bug produces 2 to 3 eggs every day throughout their lifespan, which can be several months. The elongated eggs are cemented in cracks or crevices close to the hosts. There is no larval stage. The young hatch as nymphs; mini versions of the adults. There are 5 nymphal stages before the bugs reach adulthood and each requires a full meal of blood.
Fully grown bedbugs can endure starvation for several months in infested rooms. Bed bugs may be found under wallpaper or in crevices in the furniture and joinery and emerge at night to feed. Bedbugs have well defined resting sites in which many from all the different life stages are found, along with blood.