Length: Adults up to 4.5 mm

Colour: Reddish brown

Other Features: Nymphs and adults are wingless, adults possess vestigial wing pads.

Bed bugs are small, flat, oval bloodsucking insects that infest the sleeping quarters of man and other animals. Their presence is not necessarily the result of poor housekeeping since these insects may be brought into a home despite all reasonable precautions. If introduced into a home, they may become very numerous and irritating and affect the welfare of the occupants. In most parts of Canada this is the only species. It may be troublesome in homes, hotels, theatres, barns, poultry houses, and in buildings housing rabbits or other warm- blooded animals and birds.

Occasionally bed bugs of a different species may be found associated with bats or swallows, but they are rare in Ontario. Beg bugs feed mostly at night by biting sleeping people. If they are very hungry and if the light is dim, they will feed during the day.

When biting, they inject an anticoagulant (to prevent clotting) into the skin. This substance often causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, welts develop and there is much itching. There is no North

American evidence that bed bugs can transmit disease. If feeding is undisturbed, a full-grown bed bug becomes engorged with blood in 3-5 minutes. It then crawls to a hiding place where it remains for several days digesting its meal before emerging and seeking another meal of blood.

Under normal conditions, mature bed bugs may live four months to a year or more. After mating and having a meal of blood, the female deposits from 10-50 eggs in irregular masses, until 200 or more have been laid. There are records of a single female laying as many as 500 eggs. The whitish eggs are

glued to surfaces in areas where the female hides.

During warm periods hatching occurs within 6-10 days. Bedbugs develop through incomplete metamorphosis. Newly hatched nymphs undergo 5 moults, usually feeding on the host’s blood once between moults.

Under favourable conditions, the period from egg hatching to egg laying for a bed bug may take up to 2 months. Generally, there are 3-4 generations a year.

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