Our Wild Neighbors

Bed Bug

Cimex lectularius

A detestable cosmopolitan creature that is fond of humans

Image of a bedbug, dried and mounted, seen from an angle with its head to the right and its legs hanging down.

Description of the animal

  • On an empty stomach, its colour varies from brown to yellowish brown. Once gorged with blood, it becomes reddish brown. Its microscopic hairs give it a striped appearance.
  • Flat oval body.
  • Absence of wings. The Bed Bug looks like a five- to eight-millimetre-long apple seed or lentil.
  • In its nymph stage, it is translucent or lighter in colour than when mature.

Habitat and needs

  • Lives in temperate zones, generally with fellow creatures.
  • Feeds on blood, regardless of its developmental stage.
  • Lucifugous. The Bed Bug avoids light and comes out mainly at night. However, a hungry female can bite during the day.
  • Locates victims by the warmth released from their bodies.
  • Does not fly, but walks and climbs on walls and ceilings. Moves at an average speed of 75 metres per hour. To get around in a shorter time span, it travels on suitcases, clothing, and road and air means of transportation. It takes advantage of globalization and the increasing number of travellers to propagate.

Relationship

  • The Bed Bug has adapted very well to human environments. In fact, it is a human ectoparasite. In other words, it lives on human bodies or nearby. It spends its days hiding in the cracks and crevasses of furniture, mattresses, light switches, or door and window frames. Once established, it is very difficult to dislodge.
  • Since the mid-1990s, the Bed Bug has invaded countless homes, bed and breakfasts, and hotels throughout the world. An increasing number of people are experiencing allergic reactions and bites.
  • Approximately 20% of the population has no reaction when bitten. Nonetheless, these people can be effective instruments in its propagation.

Living with them

  • To limit infestation, contaminated environments must be declared. It is important to realize that the Bed Bug is equally attracted to five-star hotels and shabby motels. It is not attracted by filth; it simply goes wherever it can find human blood.
  • Insecticides may be used sparingly. Excessive use of insecticides does more harm than good and promotes the emergence of resistant strains.
  • Upon entering a hotel room, it is best to inspect the premises before depositing your luggage. Spots of dried blood on bedding or mattresses, clumps of yellowish eggs, or exuviae (dry translucent envelopes left behind after moulting) are strong indicators that the Bed Bug is present.
  • Let house spiders live, they devour bed bugs.
  • Inspect any second-hand clothing or furniture you purchase. Avoid picking up furniture, mattresses, and sofas left along the sidewalk.
  • If you use a moving service, verify that they use clean blankets to protect furniture.
  • After a trip, inspect suitcases and, if necessary, clean them with a vacuum cleaner.
  • Thermal treatment is effective. Regardless of its developmental stage, the Bed Bug cannot survive more than 15 minutes at temperatures below -32 °C or more than 7 minutes at temperatures above 46 °C.
  • It is often easier to simply get rid of contaminated objects and furniture.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen