Until recently, bed bug infestations were thought to be associated primarily with crowded and dilapidated housing. However, such infestations have undergone a resurgence and can be found even in the finest hotel and living accommodations. Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects in the family Cimicidae. Both nymphs and adults feed on humans mostly at night, a time when it is difficult to detect their stealthy habits. The growth and development of C. lectularius is optimal when it feeds on humans; however this insect also feeds on other species of mammals and birds found near the home including chickens, mice, rats, and rabbits.
Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless, about 1/5 inch long, and rusty red or mahogany. Their bodies are flattened, they have well-developed antennae, their compound eyes are small, and the area behind the head (the prothorax) expands forward on either side of the head. The immatures appear identical to the adults except for their smaller size, thinner outer skeleton (cuticle), and lighter, yellowish-white color.
Female bed bugs lay 200 to 500 tiny, white eggs in batches of 10 to 50 on rough surfaces such as wood or paper. Glue-like material covers the eggs, which hatch in about 10 days. After hatching occurs, the eggshells frequently remain stuck in place.
Bed bugs can go without feeding for 80 to 140 days. Older stages of nymphs can survive longer without feeding than younger ones, and adults have survived without food for as long as 550 days. A bed bug can take six times its weight in blood, and feeding can take 3 to 10 minutes. Adults live about 10 months, and there can be up to 3 to 4 generations of bed bugs per year.