Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are cryptic blood sucking parasites which have evolved to feed off of humans. They can and do feed off of our pets and other animals, but they prefer us.
Bed bugs have been successfully feeding on us for several thousands of years. The fact that Western Europe and North America have been bed bug free for the last 40 years is a historical anomaly. Living with bed bugs has been a normal part of human existence for most of our time on earth.
Bed bugs are nocturnal (i.e. they prefer to come out at night but in fact they will adapt to your schedule and become active when you aren’t), they are very flat and they are great at hiding.
This means they are very hard to find until it is too late!
Bed bugs inject an anesthetic when they suck our blood so that we don’t notice the bite, wake up and swat them. They also inject an anticoagulant so that our blood flows freely as they feed.
Bed bugs have piercing sucking mouthparts – they cannot actually “bite” or “chew” – they pierce our skin with a beak like a mosquito’s then use the pressure of our heart to pump our blood into them.
Bed bugs have a high reproductive potential – this means that they can reproduce quickly so that a newly introduced infestation can build into several hundred bugs within a few months.
In other words, bed bugs really suck – but you already knew that.
Watch the following National Geographic video – if you dare