As pesky as they already are, bed bugs bite humans when disturbed or when threatened, leaving painful and itchy bites and blisters in the morning.
Categorizing bed bugs in one generic name sure is convenient. But did you know that there are at least seven major types of bed bugs? Each of these exhibit different behaviors and could be identified through different characteristics.
Identifying bed bugs are essential in choosing which method should be used in exterminating them. Hence, in this post, we shall cover the different types of bed bugs and other vital information that you must know about these pesky insects.
What are bed bugs?
Before we get to the details, what first are bed bugs. These small insects, often mistaken for fleas, get their name from niching on bed mattresses.
They are oval shaped, very small, cannot fly and they belong to the Cimicidae family. They feed on the blood of warm-blooded mammals, which include humans.
Being tiny insects, they can easily transfer as they latch from themselves in logs, bags, shoes, and clothes, among others. Their bites are also similar to other insect bites so it might be hard to suspect if your bed has bed bugs or not.
Bed bug facts
Being notable blood-sucking insects, there are other fascinating facts that most of us would not know about bed bugs. To get to know them more, here are some bed bug facts that you should be aware of.
- One female bed bug lays eggs everyday. She will lay at least 500 eggs in her lifetime.
- Bed bugs are almost impossible to see given their size of just 1mm.
- Bed bugs can thrive in any environment. They can survive in nearly freezing temperatures and in environments at 120F.
- They rely on their sharp instincts. They developed a mechanism to resist the scent of blood during daytime. They only come out when the scent of exhaled carbon at night becomes strong.
- They are resistant to pesticides. Through the years, they have developed resistance to traditional pesticides making them harder to control and eliminate.
- Bed bugs are picky eaters. They only suck blood from live hosts.
- Their saliva is mildly anesthetic. This is the reason why their live hosts would not even know that they are already feeding on them.
Bed bug anatomy
Bed Bug Life Cycle
Bed bug identification guide
As has been said, those considered as pesky insects share a lot of similarities and as such, bed bugs can be hard to identify instantly. To help you in identifying these, here is an identification guide for bed bugs:
|Color||Adults: Dark brown/mahogany|
Nymphs: cream to colorless
|Shape||When unfed: flat, and oval|
When fed: swollen and elongated
Types of bed bugs
Now that we have laid out the essentials regarding bed bugs, it is time to have a rundown of the different types of bed bugs out there. In this section, we look at the major types of bed bugs, their behaviors and basic characteristics.
1. Common or household bed bug (Cimex lectularius)
As the term implies, this one is a common bed bug all over the world. It is said to have been introduced in the US in the 1990s thanks to the migration peak and is now also virtually present in all of Asia and Europe.
Common bed bugs are just the size of an apple seed. They are broad and flat, oval at one end and pointed at the other. They are dark brown in color and are uniquely hairy up close.
They have a similar blood sucking behavior like mosquitoes and enter homes through cracks, and crevices.
2. Tropical bedbug (Cimex hemipterus)
They are not very different from the common bed bug. As a matter of fact, the only thing which separates them from the aforementioned is the fact that they only thrive in tropical and subtropical locations.
They are endemic around warmer climates specifically in Africa, Asia and South America.
In terms of appearance and behavior, they are totally similar to the common bed bug. Just a fun fact, the tropical bed bug has been made extinct in the US in the 1940s but was reintroduced around Florida and Georgia in 2016 according to Bed Bugs Insider.
3. Eastern Bat Bug (Cimex Adjunctus, Leptocimex Boueti)
Bat bugs are considered as the original bed bugs but instead of human blood, they feed on bat blood. Like the common bed bug, they are flat, oval, and have the same brown black color.
They are known to feed on insectivorous bats only. They live in caves and are able to transfer when they latch themselves in the bats’ wings.
4. Swallow Bugs (Oeciacus Vicarius and Hirundinis)
They are not in the same genus as the bed bugs but they belong to the same bug family. However, unlike bed bugs, they do not feed on human blood.
They are of the same size, shape, and appearance as bed bugs but their stark difference would be their longer hairs, popping out of their shells.
As the name suggests, they feed on birds, specifically swallows. They niche on their nests. One indicator of swallow bug infestation would be hatchlings leaving the nest even before they could fly.
5. Colorado bed bug (Hesperocimex Coloradensis)
This bed bug is predominantly found in the West Coast up to the Midwest. They are outdoor bed bugs, feeding on birds, bats, and wild animals. In recent years, a significant report stated that they now feed majorly on pygmy owls.
The definitive characteristic of Colorado bed bugs is that they follow their live hosts around. As such, they are also found inside cacti where bats and some birds would roost. As for the color, shape, and size, they are very similar to common bed bugs.
6. Mexican chicken bugs or Poultry bugs (Haematosiphon Inodora)
Again, this one is similar to bed bugs in terms of size, color, and shape but instead of feeding on human blood, they evolved to feed on chicken. These ones are commonly found in poultry businesses or where chickens are, generally.
Interestingly, most species of bed bugs including the common bed bug are now found to be feeding on chickens too. And as such, Mexican chicken bugs are also treated or eliminated in the same way as common bed bugs are eliminated.
7. Chimney Swift Bugs (Cimexopsis Nyctalis)
This one is similar to bed bugs with regards to shape, size and color but of all the types of bed bugs listed here, the chimney swift bug has stark differences with bed bugs:
- They have longer legs compared to bed bugs.
- They are active all day (even in the daytime).
- They live on walls and never on mattresses.
8. Ornithocoris Pallidus and Ornithocoris Toledoi
This is another bed bug that feed on birds, specifically martins. Like Mexican chicken bugs, they also feed on chickens.
They live in warmer climates, from South America to the Gulf coast. The only difference this one has with common bed bugs is their lighter brown color.
9. Primicimex Cavernis and Bucimex Chilensis
These two bed bug types are very related. Both are bigger than bed bugs, and have spider-like legs. They are endemic in Central and South America. They feed on bats, often found inside cacti which the woodpeckers holed or in bat caves where they can freely feed on them while they are asleep.
There are other bed bugs that are within the Cimex family or other species of the common bed bugs. However, there is minimal information about them. Here is a list of these common bed bug species:
|Cimex antennatus||Bat bug from the Pacific coast|
|Cimex brevis||Bat bug species from North America; very rare|
|Cimex columbarius||Feeding specifically on pigeons|
|Cimex emarginatus||Bat bug from Eastern to Southern Europe|
|Cimex incrassatus||North American species; very rare|
|Cimex japonicus||Found extensively in rural Japan|
|Cimex latipennis||Also a bat bug from the Pacific coast|
|Cimex pilosellus||Bat bug found in Canada and North America|
|Cimex pipistrelli||European bat bug|
|** Synxenoderus Comosus||Virtually information-less aside from being endemic in the US|
Bed Bug Prevention Tips
Compared to termites, fleas, and other pesky insects, bed bugs are not that complicated to prevent. At the end of the day, it is really about sanitation. Nonetheless, here are some prevention tips that you can refer to for termite control.
#1. Identify if it is really a bed bug
You cannot prevent them from infesting your home if you do not confirm if they really are bed bugs. Go back to the first sections of this post for the identification guide to bed bugs.
#2. Skip the panic
Throwing everything out is not the best course of action for bed bug control. Most often than not, you might be facilitating more latching in other garments and other surfaces.
#3. Identify the right treatment
Do not reach for an insecticide immediately. Try to be comprehensive when it comes to your prevention approach. There are a lot of home remedies and if you opt to use insecticides, do so sparingly, check the label, and/or hire a professional.
When you have a lot of hiding places at home, expect to have a bed bug infestation at some point. To prevent this entirely, you need to declutter.
Mattress covers or box springs are good investments for this. Also, try looking for furniture and other home pieces that are bed bug resistant.
#5. Clean beddings
When we talk about cleaning the beddings, we do not mean just dusting it every now and then. You have to regularly wash, heat, and dry clean your beddings regularly.
Also, clean the hampers or to clean them every time you do the laundry. And oh, regular sweeping and vacuuming could do as much too.
#6. Freezing up is not always a reliable method
While it has been claimed that freezing up the room is a good bed bug control, note that the temperature should be maintained for a long time. Remember that bed bugs can survive freezing points.
#7. Prevent them with heat
On the other end, heating up is also said to be effective but like freezing up, the heat level should be maintained too. And you cannot do that at an extended time at home so it might not be the most effective recourse after all.
Bed bugs are known to shrink and die at 113F, so for heat to be effective, the room must be above that temperature.
#8. Get professional help if necessary
If you think that nothing is working, the infestation might be more full-blown than you think. If this is so, look for professional options to prevent bed bugs from entering your home in the future.
Notwithstanding everything that we covered here for bed bug types and preventive tips, there is also practical information that you should know about bed bugs. As such, here are some bed bug FAQs for you.
What bugs are mistaken for bed bugs?
When it comes to bed bug look-alikes, the following would be at the frontier: bat bugs, spider beetles, carpet beetles, fleas, and booklice. There are other claimed bed bug look-alikes but when it comes to size, shape, and color, these ones are the closest.
- 8 Bugs That Look Like Silverfish But Aren’t
- 12 Bugs That Look Like Fleas And Jump
- 18 Bugs That Look Like Ticks But Are Not
- 5 Bugs That Look Like Termites But Aren’t
- 12 Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches (But Aren’t)
How many types of bed bugs are there?
There are at least 90 different types of bed bugs but there are only three that are known to feed on human blood. One of these three would be the common bed bug. While this is a relief, control and prevention may be harder than you think.
What does your mattress look like if you have bed bugs?
If you are cleaning your beddings or vacuuming the carpet or reorganizing your closet and linen drawers, and you find red or brown stains in the surface, that is already an indication that there are bed bugs that are crushed at night, under your mattress every time you move. Dark spots are also indicators of bed bug feces.
Can bed bugs niche in pillows?
Yes. As a matter of fact, pillows offer a safe space for them to mate and lay eggs. Signs of bed bugs thriving in your pillow would be red stains and black marks too. The appearance of tiny teeny bites in the cushion could also be a probable case for the presence of bed bugs.
What are the first signs of bed bugs?
The first sign of bed bugs would be egg sheds when you fix the beddings in the morning. And when there are sheds, the fecal mark is also near as well as red stains, mentioned in the previous question.
There should also be a musty odor in the beddings to indicate a full-blown bed bug niching in your bedroom.
Can you see all types of bed bugs?
Yes. But only when they have already reached their adult size. They can look like lice at this point. All you need to do now is to look for a slightly hairy body to confirm that they are indeed bed bugs. Of the types of bed bugs, the most common sighting would be the household bed bugs and the Mexican chicken bed bugs.
Do bed bugs bite during the daytime?
No. Common or household bed bugs are nocturnal and they only bite at night. Although there are notable bed bug types that are active all day, they do not feed on human blood so that is something to be relieved of.
What time of night do bed bugs feed?
It is said that the peak time of bed bug feeding would be in between midnight up to 5 am. Bed bugs have to suck on blood regularly because they need this not only for basic survival but also for reproduction and laying eggs. Bite marks from bed bugs may be immediately seen but some may take up to two weeks to be seen.
Where do bed bugs hide during the day?
Although virtually invisible, bed bugs are still lurking around where the live host is. Hence, they would fit themselves in holes and crevices in the wall or floorboards, or unknowingly latched in linen, and in the furniture.
How do you get bed bugs out of hiding?
One of the best solutions to get bed bugs out of hiding would be to direct heaters or hair dryers on your suspected location. Just wave the device around the area for concentrated minutes and wait for the bed bugs to come out in seconds.
What scent do bed bugs hate?
Research revealed that bed bugs specifically hate a scent called linalool. This scent is a staple ingredient of pesticides. Naturally, linalool can be extracted from more than 200 fruits and plants. Among these would be basil, citrus fruits, cinnamon, and mint.
What can you apply in your skin at night to prevent bed bugs?
This is an essential question and fortunately, there are a lot of choices for this. Here is a list of what you can apply in your skin at night to prevent bed bugs from biting:
- Essential oils
- Peppermint oil or leaves
- Black walnut tea
- Rubbing alcohol
- Petroleum jelly
- Dryer sheets
- Baby powder
What fabric do bed bugs hate?
None. They thrive in any type of fabric. What they are sensitive to however, would be the color of the fabric. They tend to stay away from bright colored fabrics especially yellow, green, and white. They love to cling to dark colored fabrics like brown and black.
Do bed bugs stay in the body?
No. They bite but they leave immediately after they get their fill. They need to digest their blood for hours and staying where they bite would be impractical. Other than that, they are known travelers, moving in between beddings and furniture. And when they are not there, they hide in secluded places.
Are women on their period more susceptible to bed bug bites?
No. This is a misnomer. It is not the scent of blood which attracts bed bugs per se but the body heat and the amount of carbon dioxide in the host’s body. Also, they may be inventive in hiding themselves but they do not have the capacity to sense when a woman has a period or not.
Do bed bugs disappear immediately after treatment?
No. Sometimes, it takes weeks or even months before the last trace of bed bugs are eliminated in the home. But in some instances where the applied treatment has more chemicals, you can count for a few days and they would be gone.
What is the lifespan of bed bugs?
On average, the life cycle of bed bugs is between 2-4-months. Note that these creatures could survive without blood for a considerable span of time. Their nymphs, for instance, can survive without meals for seven months while adult bed bugs could survive without blood for a year and more.
Where do bed bugs lay their eggs?
Unlike other pesky insects, bed bugs cannot jump nor fly. As such, you would find their eggs in secluded places such as in floorboards, walls, crevices, and holes. Female bed bugs lay eggs non-stop. They can deposit 3-5 eggs in the niche every day in their entire lifetime.
Do you need to treat the entire house if you suspect bed bug infestation?
No. Most likely, they are just in one bedroom or in the laundry room. If sightings are concentrated, you just need to treat the room where their presence is more evident and not necessarily the entire house.
Just because bed bugs are tiny would not mean that they should not be a cause of concern. Knowing that they feed on human blood is already enough cause of concern. Bed bug bites can be painful and very itchy. Their moldy scent and egg casings could also pose a threat to people with allergies, asthmas, and other respiratory system related sickness.
The good news is, there are a lot of ways to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home, especially the bedroom. At the end of the day, sanitation, thorough cleaning of the bedding and the surrounding living spaces are still the best preventive measures for these pesky insects.