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Bed Bugs, Bed Bugs - What Are These Things?

Updated on November 4, 2010

Bed Bugs, Bed Bugs, Oh My!!

We have all heard the saying “Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite”! 

I use to hear this saying all the time when I was young, and I never knew what a bed bug was.  I thought it was in reference to monsters in the night or something like that.  As an adult, I now know that bed bugs are real – they are bugs that bite during the night while you sleep. 


Bed bugs have hit the news – on the radio, online and in newspapers across the country.  A fear of bed bugs is spreading and some people have gone so far as to say that they will not even travel to cities with bed bug infestations, especially in the hotels.  That seems extreme to me, but let’s take a closer look at the bed bug.

What are Bed Bugs?

A bed bug is an insect that is wingless and has an oval shaped body when it is an adult.  Prior to feeding, the body is approximately ¼” (or 6 mm) long and is flat like paper.  After feeding, a bed bug will turn dark red from the ingested blood and will bloat like a mosquito. 


An adult bed bug has a one year life span.  This does not sound like a long lifespan, but a female in this one year can lay anywhere from 200 – 400 eggs.  With a stable food supply and with proper temperatures, she will lay closer to the 400 range of eggs in her lifetime.  The eggs are about the size of an apple seed, pear shaped and white.  The eggs are laid in clusters of 10-50 eggs and are deposited in cracked and crevices.  Once laid, the eggs will hatch in 10 days.

What Do Bed Bugs Eat?

Bed bugs have a similar diet as mosquitoes – they feed on the blood of humans, birds and other mammals by biting through the skin.  As they are a night insect, they feed during the night and will bite a human anywhere on the body but prefer to bite around the face, arms, hands, upper torso, lower legs and the neck.  However, unlike mosquitoes, both male and female bed bugs bite and they can survive up to six months without feeding. 


Where Do Bed Bugs Live?

Bed bugs are night insects.  They prefer dark areas and hide in places that afford them darkness.  Common hiding places for bed bugs include the bed, areas near the bed, under the bed and near where the person sleeps.  Bed bugs cannot fly or jump so it remains close to the source of food. 


How Do I Get Bed Bugs?

There are two ways to contract bed bugs.  One is through migration and the other is through hitch hiking.  Migration is when bed bugs walk to a new location through hallways, plumbing, crevices, electrical lines, openings or other means.  Hitchhiking is when bed bugs climb into or onto clothing, bags, luggage, furniture or other belongings and then taken to their new location by the person.

I Need More Information on Bed Bugs!

This short article only covers the basics about bed bugs. If you want to learn more about them, including how to recognize bed bugs, determine whether you have them and how to prevent bringing them home, then the second part of Bed Bugs, Bed Bugs - Are You in Bed With Me?!? will provide you the knowledge and skills to identify, find and prevent an infestation of bed bugs.

© November 4, 2010

Copyright Beth100


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    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Camlo -- Apologies for being so tardy in answering you!! My bad! Maybe it's because I'm too busy looking under my bed for bugs (but, no worry, it's much too cold up here for them!!)! As for varieties of bugs -- there's thousand of millions of varieties! ha ha I belive it is dust mites or bed mites that you are thinking of. Pesky bed bugs are like vampires -- they have the need to suck your blood. :) Thanks Camlo - always a treat to have you come by!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      W.K. Hayes -- Yes, I think twice before saying that good night saying. XD I hope that you never encounter these nasty little bugs! Thanks!

    • camlo profile image

      Camlo De Ville 7 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi Beth!

      Reading this has caused me to itch ...

      Actually, having learnt of bed bug's existence some years ago, I threw out my matress and bought an inflatable one. As you say, they can be contracted from any number of sources, and since I live in n apartement building with ventilation shafts etc. all over the place, I thought this could be the best prevention.

      Having read this, I'm wondering if there are various types of bed bugs. I think there are some that live off the skin we shed during the night, but I'm not sure.

      A very useful Hub!

      All the best, Camlo

    • W. K. Hayes profile image

      Warren Keith Hayes 7 years ago from Bryson City, North Carolina

      Wow...I had always heard the expresion about the infamous Bed Bug but after reading this article...I sincerely hope I never have to deal with them...ever! Great,very informative article.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Emily40 -- You share the sentiments of many!!! :) Thanks for coming by.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Paul -- Thank you for the recommendation. I (luckily and knock on wood) have never contracted bed bugs. I glad that you were able to have this resolved in safe manner for you and your children. Thanks for your feedback!

    • Emily40 profile image

      Emily40 7 years ago

      I hate bed bugs. Thanks for sharing:)

    • profile image

      paul 7 years ago

      Bed bugs are the worst! I stayed in a hotel in New York and ended up bringing them back to my house. I was worried about my kids. I needed a non-toxic solution and didn't want to leave my house for too long. I lucked out and found these guys. they really took care of the problem.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      ocbill -- Every animal has a place in this world, but I prefer it not to be in my bed. :) I think I'll skip inviting these little critters into my home too. Thanks for coming by. :)

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      these aren't good things at all, for us at least.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      ghomefitness -- Yea, nasty little critters and best be to avoid them as much as possible. Either that, or move up here where it's so cold, there are no insects! :) Thanks for dropping in!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Dream On - These little critters can appear in the home or in businesses. I can imagine how many potential hiding places a factory would have. This gives me another reason to wash my new clothes before wearing them (I get laughed at for this...but I have no bed bugs!) Thanks Dream On for letting us know about the factories.

    • ghomefitness profile image

      ghomefitness 7 years ago from Chicago,IL

      Informative and nasty but it is good info to know thanks.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      Now I know so much more.I am lucky not to have them.I hear they can be impossible to get rid of.I heard they can come from new clothes in factories.Thanks for the tip.