Creature Feature

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs belong to a family of insects that are primarily human, bat and bird parasites. It is believed that the first bed bugs parasitized bats in ancient Mediterranean caves and began parasitizing humans as they inhabited caves along with bats. As cities were established and commerce between them followed, bed bug infestations became more permanent and spread to other areas. Now, the common bed bug has a worldwide distribution and is the dominant bed bug in temperate climates.

Bed begs do not live on their host like lice and adult fleas. They are nest parasites that live near their host, avoiding light and spending the majority of their lifetime hiding in protected areas. For human hosts, this translates into mostly sleeping or resting areas. As infestations grow, bed bugs are found in less predictable locations, such as closets, hallways, bathrooms and kitchens. The tendency to aggregate also decreases as access to food decreases. At any given time, bed bugs actively move throughout structures, especially adult females.

Early detection is key to preventing infestations from spreading and reducing management costs. Visual inspection is the most common method, but is less reliable at detecting low-level infestations. Passive pitfall monitors are better at detecting low-level infestations. However, they do not provide immediate results. Now available is a rapid test that is able to detect bed bug residues with up to 92% accuracy and provide results in five minutes. If an area tests positive, then moving forward with treatment is a valid response that can keep small bed bug infestations from growing.

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Want to learn more?

Check out our Modern Bed Bug Management ProTraining course:

Modern Bed Bug Management


After a decades-long absence, bed bugs returned to the U.S in the late 1990s, mostly due to pesticide resistance, which, in addition to their hiding behavior, makes bed bugs difficult to manage. After completing this course, you should be able to understand bed bug biology and behavior and use this understanding to improve monitoring and treatment.

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