It’s not uncommon to find all types of creepy crawlies roaming through the home on occasion. Still, when you find a bug, it’s essential to know what you’re dealing with. If the wrong bug is left ignored, you could be dealing with a nasty infestation sooner or later.
Bed bugs are a particularly potent nightmare for anyone who sleeps indoors. They hide in the darkest corners of your bedroom, even inside the mattress itself, and bite you while you sleep. Knowing a bed bug when you see one can be the difference between a one-time pest and a persistent terror. To do this, you must get familiar with bed bug anatomy.
Bed bug anatomy is reasonably straightforward. Bed bugs have a peculiar shape that separates them from most other pests commonly found in the home. As with any unusual bug, pay attention to its size, shape, and color. These three things will help you to identify the bug easily.
Bed bugs tend to be tiny. You could fit dozens of them on the face of a penny. Young bed bugs, known as bed bug nymphs, are the size of pinheads and tend not to show any color until a blood meal. After several weeks of molting, they’ll eventually reach their adult size.
Adult bed bugs vary in size depending on how recently they’ve fed. They can range between 1/4 and 3/16 inches in length.
The shape of a bed bug is one of the most distinctive features of bed bug anatomy. Bed bugs are flat with large, round abdomens, six legs, two antennae, and a short proboscis. The abdomen of males will taper to a point at the back. Female bed bugs will have a completely round abdomen. After a bed bug has fed, its shape changes slightly. A recently fed bed bug will swell and elongate
Thankfully, bed bugs don’t have any functional wings. If your mysterious bug is flying around, you can be completely confident that it isn’t a bed bug. Instead, bed bugs have vestigial undeveloped wing pads.
Young bed bugs are colorless, at least until they feed. Because of their transparent bodies, they’re essentially invisible until they feed or grow older. Freshly fed and adult bed bugs have brown and black coloring. Their abdomens may be particularly dark, whereas their heads and legs will be lighter in color and somewhat transparent.
Bed bug eggs are about the size of a pinhead and pearly white. If the eggs are about five days old, they will develop a distinctive eyespot.
There are currently two different types of bed bugs: the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug. The common bed bug can be found all over the world. The tropical bed bug can only be found in tropical climates, subtropical climates, and the United States. Tropical bed bugs are limited mainly to the state of Florida but have been discovered in other southeastern states in isolated cases.
The two types are indistinguishable using the naked eye. When discovering a tropical bed bug, you won’t be able to tell it apart from a common bed bug, but the difference is crucial. Tropical bed bugs have developed more hairs on their footpads and can secrete a sticky fluid. This adds up to a bed bug that is much more capable of climbing than most.
Tropical bed bugs and their ability to climb most surfaces render cheap and conventional bed bug traps useless. Where a common bed bug might fall into a pitfall trap at the foot of your bed, a tropical bed bug can walk right through and up to your mattress.
Bed bugs give off a bad smell. In especially severe infestations, the smell produced by colonies of bed bugs becomes noticeably pungent. Bed bugs have a specialized scent gland that releases pheromones when bed bugs become disturbed. These are referred to as alarm pheromones.
In low concentrations, the scent can be described as floral. However, when large groups of bed bugs release these pheromones, the smell takes on a moldy bouquet. Think old gym shoes that have never been cleaned.
If you spotted something that looks like a bed bug, the next step is to confirm your suspicions. Bed bugs are aptly named, as they tend to make their nests in the bedroom. They’ll hide in the folds of any nearby furnishings and even behind loose wallpaper. However, they might even be in your bed. Check the folds of your mattress and any cracks on your bed frame. If you spot flat, round, brown bugs in hiding, you probably have bed bugs.
If you can’t quite find them, but you’re positive you spotted a bed bug, you can purchase traps or monitors that are likely to capture a few. After that, the best thing you can do is consult with a pest professional.
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