Pest Profile


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Scientific name: Cimex lectularius or Cimex hemipterus

Bed bugs are small oval, wingless, blood-feeding insects that are rusty brown in colour. Ranging in length from 1 to 5mm, fully-grown adult bed bugs reach a similar size to that of an apple seed. This small size makes it perfect for them to hide in narrow cracks and crevices. They have six legs, long antennae and large mandibles (mouth parts), which can easily impale human skin.

Bed bugs prefer to bite humans but will also feed on other warm blooded animals, such as dogs, cats or other pets. As their name suggests, bed bugs mostly feed at night when people are in bed. While they are generally found in bedrooms and other sleeping areas, they will also cohabit with humans throughout other areas within houses. They can also be commonly found in hotels, hostels, and in buildings with limited movement, such as cinemas or theatres.

Bed bugs shelter in a variety of dark locations, mostly under mattresses, floorboards, carpets, behind skirting boards and within bed frames or other furniture. They venture out at night to feed on humans while they sleep. Adult bed bugs have a flat oval-shaped body, which may become red and engorged after a blood meal. After feeding, bed bugs move to secluded places and hide for 5-10 days. During this time, they do not feed but instead digest their meal, mate and lay eggs.

Even though they are unable to fly, bed bugs are fast movers and are quick to escape once they are exposed to light. Although there are two species of bed bugs that will feed on humans, C. hemipterus, is generally confined to tropical areas of Australia.

In recent times there has been an increase in the number of bed bug infestations. Bed bugs are common all over the world and have been found in Australia in small numbers. Recently they have become widespread with infestations increasing substantially in Victoria, and most parts of the world, over the last ten years.

The main reason for the increase is thought to be contributing factors including the increase in world travel with bed bugs being spread in luggage, shoes and clothing.

People may have varying reactions to the bites of bed bugs, depending on a number of factors. Some people have little or no reaction to the bite. In others the bite site can become red and intensely itchy. Bites may be found on a variety of places on the body and discomfort and loss of sleep is common.

Close up of bed bug on fabric
Silverfish On An Old Book
Silverfish On An Old Book
Bedbug on human
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