You wake in the dead of night feeling itchy and there’s a musty odor stuck in your nostrils and lingering as bad taste on the back of your throat. You turn on your bedside light to find, horror of horrors, you’ve got spots.
You’ve got unwanted lodgers. Nasty little visitors. Wake up! You’ve got bed bugs and they can be of many types!
Here’s what you need to know about them.
Types of Bed Bugs
In the US and probably everywhere else, it is possible to find members of the bed bug family in nursing homes, college dorms, schools, daycares, offices and even hospitals. In fact, anywhere people and their belongings gather.
Although there are about 90 different specifies, only three really get our attention because we are their prey. So you know who you are dealing with, these are leptocimex boueti, cimex hemipterus and cimex lectularius.
Here’s more about them.
AKA the common bed bug, it is the most common species in the US and is found in almost every state. Cimex lectularius loves dark enclosed spaces and resembles an apple seed with 6 legs. They are broad but flat and, if you can get a really close look, slightly hairy. Like a mosquito, they drink your blood through a mouth like a hypodermic needle. Being squat, they can hide in any in a crack in the wall, under furniture or, as they prefer, in the seams of your mattress.
These critters also go by their exotic name, tropical bed bugs. They look just like common bed bugs to the naked eye but prefer to live in subtropical or tropical habitats. They don’t care about geography, so they are happy to end up anywhere there’s a fresh blood supply and it’s warm enough to breed.
Fact: Tropical bed bugs were supposed to be eradicated in the 1940s using, of all things, DDT. They mounted a massive comeback in 2016 and plagued Florida.
Also called cimex adjunctus, these bed bugs resemble their apple-seed cousins and are almost the same size, around 6mm. These guys feed mostly on the big brown bat and live with them in their caves. It’s there they feed on fresh bat blood while the bats are asleep. Sound familiar?
Swallow bugs are bed bugs too but although they hail from the same family, they don’t feed on humans.
Normal people can’t tell the difference between swallow bugs and common bed bugs. It takes an expert. A microcode reveals how the foremost part of a swallow bug’s body is a lot hairier. Swallow Bugs feed on bird blood – and, yes, swallows in particular.
Swallow nests are dark warm enclosed spaces. Perfect conditions for these bugs. If you have swallow nests in your eves, these bugs could easily end up nesting with you. When times are good, swallow bugs over breed creating heavy infestations. They suck the lifeblood out of the tiny nestlings. When there are no chicks left, the nest gets cold so they leave as a bloodthirsty hoard. They are hunting for blood and if you’ve got your window open, it could be yours.
Fact: Did you know swallow bugs are capable of living up to a year without any food at all? And so can our common bed bugs!
Also called chimney swift bugs, this type of bed bug has slightly longer legs, so this time, it is possible to tell the difference, with a little effort.
Besides being leggy there are other characteristics that separate the chimney swift bugs from common bed bugs.
- They are active during daytime
- They are capable of climbing slippery and even sheer surfaces
- They prefer living in walls and voids instead of mattresses
These bugs feed on the chimney swift, hence the name, and like swallow bugs, they don’t mind a change feeding on people.
O. Pallidus and O. Toledoi
These bed bugs are bird blood lovers too and are usually found in South America but they are more than happy to come home with you. They’ll soon settle into their home to become an infestation. And very fast, if you happen to keep chickens.
O. toledoi is dark brown, O. pallidus is lighter but it is difficult to tell these two apart without putting them under the microscope.
An Important Consideration
Contrary to popular belief, cleanliness and good sanitation alone is no guarantee common bed bugs won’t move in and get comfortable in your home. Even so, it can help to not have any of their favorite hiding places.
Work on regularly removing dirt, debris, and clutter and seal up cracks and crevices. Leave no stone unturned that could be a warm place to live and breed. If you know they are in your area stay on a constant red alert. It only takes one egg loaded female to be carried in on a coat from anywhere else to start an infestation.
No one in their right mind wants to share a bed with dozens of creatures biting them. You’d never get a decent night’s sleep. They’ve outstayed their welcome. If you spot a bed bug and now you know what they look like, it’s not the time to be pussy footing around. Pull out the big guns for total annihilation and call in the exterminator.