Once upon a time (from 1940 to just before 1980), the United States was free of almost all types of bed bugs. Back then, pesticides like DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) still worked against them.
Unfortunately, the US had to ban DDT for health and safety reasons. Since then, bed bugs have made a comeback. What’s more, they’ve become resistant to traditional pesticides.
The good news is that other methods, such as steam or heat treatment, remain effective. Bed bug baits can also help, but this depends on the specific species you need to get rid of.
Since the type of bed bug can affect the efficacy of control methods, it’s best you learn how to tell these bugs apart. This guide lists the most common bed bugs in homes and how to identify them, so be sure to read on.
The Cimex lectularius (C. lectularius) is the species you know as the common bed bug. It’s one of the most common kinds of bed bugs in the world, preferring temperate climates.
The common bed bug is also the most prevalent in the US. So much so that it has established itself in the entire US, from Alaska to Hawaii to Florida.
What Cimex Lectularius Looks Like
Adult common bed bugs are about 5 millimeters long, from the tip of the antenna to the outer edge of the abdomen. They have an oval-shaped body that can resemble an apple seed after a blood meal. Adult males have an abdomen with a pointed tip, while females have a more rounded appearance.
Baby bed bugs, also called nymphs, look like their parents, only paler and smaller. Those that just came out of their eggs have a white to an off-white color, much like the eggs. Their bodies then turn darker as they feed and go through the five molting stages called instars.
Speaking of babies, according to this guide, a single female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. Baby bed bugs can’t lay eggs yet, but they can start looking for a mate once they complete all instar cycles. They can then begin reproducing, with each female adult laying hundreds of other eggs.
Cimex hemipterus (C. hemipterus) also goes by the name the tropical bedbug. That’s because this type of bed bug thrives mostly in tropical countries. However, scientists say they’re now in Florida, too.
Cimex Hemipterus Characteristics
The tropical bed bug looks a lot like the common bed bug that it can be hard to tell them apart without a magnifying glass. Under magnification, though, you may find that they have different prothorax sizes. The prothorax is the first section of the thorax, the segment that sits right below the head.
The prothorax of tropical bed bugs is much narrower but wider than that of common bed bugs. Moreover, the abdomen of C. hemipterus isn’t as round as that of C. lectularius.
Entomologists also say that C. hemipterus is a better climber than other species. Because of this, tropical bed bugs can still escape the typical traps made for common bed bugs. This can render the traps useless, which is why correct bed bug identification is crucial.
C. adjunctus is a bed bug species that thrive in West Africa. Bats are their primary hosts, which is why they’re also known as bat bugs. However, they can suck on human blood, too, especially in the absence of bats.
Moreover, C. adjunctus can move from bats to humans if the bats find their way into human habitat. Now, keep in mind that bats themselves transmit diseases to humans and other animals. That, plus the risk of bat bugs, should be enough reason to keep bats out of your home.
Identifying Cimex Adjunctus
Like other bed bugs, C. adjunctus also has a brown, oval-shaped body that is flat when unfed. Under magnification, though, bat bugs have hair strands longer than other bed bugs.
Proper identification of bat bugs is important because you have to get rid of their source, too. Baits and heat treatment may work on the bugs, but unless you drive the bats out, they can keep sending bugs your way.
That’s why bat bed bug removal requires getting rid of both the bats and the bugs they play host to.
Do Any of These Types of Bed Bugs Carry Diseases?
Researchers have found more than 45 different pathogens in bed bugs. However, experts have yet to find evidence that bed bugs can directly cause diseases. Up to now, scientists haven’t discovered any major bed bug-related disease outbreak.
Still, a more recent study presents more evidence that bed bugs can spread Chagas disease. This health condition usually has mild symptoms, but in some cases, it can be deadly. More research is necessary, but that should be enough to make you abhor bed bugs.
Besides, bed bug bites can cause secondary infections through incessant scratching. Those itchy bites (or the fear of getting bitten) can also contribute to sleep problems.
So, if you suspect you have a bed bug problem at home, get in touch with a pest control professional right away. This way, they can determine the specific type you have. From there, they can administer proper control methods, such as heat treatment.
Keep Your Home Free of Nasty Bed Bugs
There may only be three common types of bed bugs in homes, but even just one kind is one too many. It could be even worse if you have multiple species at home.
So, as soon as you get itchy bug bites and see rust-colored spots on your beddings, call a pest control pro ASAP. The sooner you do, the sooner they can help you drive these critters out.
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