This bug probably received its common name of "bed bug" from its close association with human sleeping beds where it often seeks refuge during daylight, only to come out to feed on the bed's occupant(s) at night. It was introduced into the United States with the early colonists and is found throughout the United States and the world.
Adults are about 3/16"(4-5mm) long, broadly oval and flat. Brown to reddish brown, they emit and "obnoxiously sweet" odor from scent glands. Female bed bugs lay 1-5 eggs per day with a lifetime total of 540. There are five nymphal stages with a blood meal required for each molt. Blood meals require about 3-10 minutes. With normal feeding and reproductive cycles, individuals can live up to 316 days.
Humans are the preferred host, but bed bugs will feed on poultry, canaries, sparrows, mice, rats, guinea pigs and bats. Although the bite of bed bugs is painless, most people (80%) develop an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bed bug as it feeds. A swelling usually results from feeding but there is no red spot such as is characteristic with flea bites. Bed bugs have been found to be infected with some 25 different disease organisms.
Bed bugs harbor in cracks and crevices during the day and come out to feed at night. Typically they can be found around mattress buttons and beading, in boxsprings or their coverings and in any crevice of a wooden bed frame. Other places to check are wall hangings, night stands, stuffed furniture, baseboards, floorboard cracks, behind loose wallpaper, light switches, door and window frames, etc. In heavy infestations, bed bugs may be found in wall voids, attics and other enclosed places. They will crawl considerable distances to obtain a blood meal.
Bed bug infestations have been found in transportation vehicles such as boats, trains, airplanes and buses, as well as in movie theaters. They are "hitchhikers" that can be brought in on used furniture or belongings of someone who has been living in an infested situation.
To control bed bugs, a thorough inspection is very important. Treat any bed bugs found with an appropriately labeled pesticide, being very careful to follow pest control product directions. Allow mattresses, boxsprings, and upholstery to dry thoroughly before reuse.
In most homes, bed bugs can be controlled with applications to mattresses, bed frames, wall crevices, and baseboards. In apartment buildings and hotels, it is advisable to also inspect units to either side and above and below the infested unit, and treat as required.