How to get rid of bed bugs


Human blood is the preferred dining choice for the common bed bug.

The common bed bug, formally known as Cimex Lectularius at big pest control conferences, resemble apple seeds when in the adult life stage of their bed bug life cycle. They are flat, ovoid in shape, wingless, ectoparasites that feed exclusively on blood-meals. Bed bugs have become a trending topic of interest in recent years as bed bug infestations have exploded throughout North America. Most notably within urban centers that have dense populations, like Toronto, Ontario. The problem has become such an epidemic that many locales, including New York City, have implemented local laws explicitly designed to deal with the current bed bug scourge.

Is there more than one kind of bed bug?

Yes, in the vast richness of our planet’s animal kingdom there is more than one type of “bed bug.” Approximately 90 different species are belonging to the bed bug family, also known as the Cimicidae family. Each species within the family are parasitic, warm-blood sucking insects, with ovoid body shapes and six legs.

None can fly yet all have non-functional wing pads. Out of all the Cimicidae family members only three are known to feed on humans:

  • The common bed bug, or Cimex Lectularius
  • Tropical bed bug, or Cimex Hemiptarius
  • Bat Bug, or Leptocimex Boueti

Of the three bed bugs that opt for human nourishment, the common bed bug, or C. Lectularious is the most popular in North America.

What attracts bed bugs?

People. People attract bed bugs. Sleeping people are even more attractive to bed bugs than the awake and mobile ones. They return to the same place each night, providing a reliable food source and cozy atmosphere for the pests. Bed bugs love people because we apparently taste good to common bed bugs.
While the common bed bug will snack from other types of mammals, human beings are the absolute gold-standard of meal choices for Cimex Lectularius.  This means we are the ones attracting them to our homes. According to Jorge Parada, MD, medical director, infection control, Loyola University Health System:

If you are alive, warm and breathing then you are a bed bug magnet.

So, how do they know where to find people? Bed bugs are able to detect the sweet smell of carbon dioxide on our exhaling breaths and sense the warmness of our bodies. Especially when people are lying still, such is the case when people are sleeping. And while people are sleeping, bed bugs have a good amount of time to seek out and zero in on a blood-meal host. When they get going, they can travel about 1 meter per minute, meaning they can get far in one evening of meal seeking.

Can One Bed Bug Cause an Infestation?

If just one, fertilized female bed bug decides to couch surf at your house, a bed bug infestation can develop.

Unfortunately, the horrifying answer is yes. This is because just one, fertilized female bed bug, can lay viable eggs. And when those tiny eggs do hatch, there will suddenly be more than only one lone lady bed bug calling your couch home. But, can those babies eventually make more babies?  Why yes, they can! Those baby bed bugs won’t be lonely for long, inbreeding is a common mating practice among bed bugs. Those little baby bed bugs will be making whippersnappers of their own in no time! Or, more precisely, in about 37 days. If you’re fortunate, and a lone male bed bug finds himself couch surfing at your casa, an infestation will not occur. A single male bed bug cannot make bed bug babies on his own. He may just hang around nagging you for control of the TV remote.

Where do Bed Bugs Nest?

Bed bugs will nest anywhere that is small, tight, and not easy for you to find. If you happen to spot them on bed sheets, it is likely you will notice some blood stains, bed bug exoskeletons from shedding, or their droppings. They are not hard to spot, since on light colored sheets they will stand out with their bloody brownish color. The most common places where bed bugs nest:

  • Mattresses
  • Bed frames / headboards
  • Walls / ceilings
  • Baseboards
  • Dresser and nightstands
  • Couches and chairs
  • Box springs

Bed Bug Epidemics – Where Are They Most Common?

The most common places with bed bug epidemics have reportedly been in: single-family homes (91 percent), apartments/condominiums (89 percent), and hotels/motels (68 percent), according to As we know, bed bugs do not have a specific preference for location. As long as there are food sources available and a nesting place, they will be satisfied. As mentioned previously, they do not favor dirtier residences over cleaner ones, the amount of clutter does however, entice them to stay since they love hiding spots.

Not only in residential areas, but bed bugs can be found even in places such as:

nursing homes (59 percent, schools and daycares (47 percent), offices (46 percent), college dorms (45 percent) hospitals (36 percent) and public transportation (19 percent)

It isn’t a surprise as these are highly populated public areas where people could easily bring in bed bugs to create an infestation. How serious could a bed bug infestation be?

Can bed bugs transmit disease?

No, common bed bugs are not known to transmit disease from host to host.
This is about the only good thing we can say about bed bugs! Despite invading our homes and turning our sleeping quarters into their personal rave scene every night, the common bed bug is not known to transmit diseases that will harm you. That can’t be said for other blood-sucking parasites out there. Ticks, a common insect found in grassy and wooded areas throughout North America is known to transmit Lyme disease to their hosts. Then there is the infamous Tsetse fly found within the sub-Saharan region of Africa; those pests can transmit a deadly disease known as “sleeping sickness” when they feed. And Malaria, a parasite passed on to humans from the bite of infected female mosquitoes, that are estimated to have killed 445,000 people in 2016.

Bed bugs are reported to have been connected to the deaths of just 2 people in North America. In both instances, bed bugs were not cited as the cause of death but were considered a contributing factor. So, although dealing with a scourge of bed bugs is a serious problem with potential impacts on a person’s well-being, more than likely their life will not be at risk.

How long do bed bugs live?

According to the article, by Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech’s Entomology Department, a bed bugs life span can be up to ten months long.

The most recent studies indicate that a well-fed adult bed bug held at room temperature (>70° F), will live between 99 and 300 days in the laboratory.

Another source says, the average life span for a bed bug is 10 months to a year.

So, what does a bed bug do during their short, but “way too long for my liking” life span? Well, if it’s a female bed bug boogieing about, she’s going to expend a lot of energy laying eggs. The exact number of eggs a female bed bug can lay within her lifetime is a little unclear, as published resources report different numbers. These variances in numbers could likely be due to differing environmental testing conditions and our current modern-day lack of knowledge of the common bed bug. On average though, it’s safe to conclude that a female bed bug can lay between 100 – 300 eggs within her lifetime. Regular access to nutrition dense blood-meals is required for a female bed bug to be able to lay eggs throughout her life continually.
Without regular feedings from unsuspecting hosts, female bed bugs are unable to lay eggs. Under ideal conditions, female bed bugs can lay anywhere from one to several eggs per day. If left unfed, both male and female bed bugs can die from starvation within 70 days. However, that number is often disputed among bed bug enthusiasts, and there are even some reports that suggest bed bugs can live up to a year between feedings! As reported by Megan Scudellari in a 2011 Scientific American article, bed bugs “may live up to a year without feeding,” but she indicates such longevity is expected to happen to bed bugs only in, “chillier climates.”

How often do bed bugs feed?

Under ideal conditions, bed bugs will consume a blood-meal once every 3-5 days.
Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, must consume a blood-meal to move onto the next stage, or instar, of development. They can consume up to three times their body weight in blood per feeding. The estimated volume of blood an adult bed bug consumes per feeding is 0.005mL, about the same amount as a single drop of liquid from an eye dropper. It takes a bed bug anywhere from 3 – 10 minutes to consume their meal.

When do bed bugs feed?

Bed bugs are nocturnal insects, which means they get all their errand running done at night. They typically like to feed between the hours of midnight and 5am. That time frame just happens to coincide with the “witching hours,” a time of day frequently considered to be connected too unholy mischief and devil’s work. But, scientists tend to point out that the late-night time frame of bed bug feeding is more likely because it’s when sleeping people are in their deepest sleep, making a good blood-meal available. Bed bugs prefer to dine in peace and quiet, and without disturbing their slumbering host’s dream time.

Not all bed bugs limit their meals to midnight snacks. Bed bugs will eat a blood-meal when a host is available, not just when a host is sleeping. Favorite locations for bed bug infestations, other than beds, are classrooms, movie theatres, and workspaces. What all these locations have in common is they are locations where large groups of people are sitting in one place for extended periods. These locations provide a bed bug ample opportunity to sneak up on a host and feed undetected; due to their anesthetic containing saliva. Basically, these public spaces are a bed bugs ideal one-stop shop emporium! And, if a bed bug is looking for a change of scenery, a slower pace perhaps, they can easily catch a ride home with their new found host!

Does Having Bed Bugs Affect Pregnancy?

For expectant mothers, it is advised that they check periodically their home to ensure that there are no signs of bed bugs.

Bed bugs in general are harmless as are their bites. However, if you are pregnant, they can affect your unborn child and you. It is possible that bed bugs can cause pregnancy complications. If your bites go untreated it could be dangerous.

According to WebMD, bed bug bites will not affect the victim unless they are continuously scratching it. If there is a sign of an infestation, you should call a professional exterminator to assess the situation. While pregnant, be cautious about what kind of pests may be living in your home.

How to get rid of bed bugs