Bed bugs, bed-bugs, or bedbugs are parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood.
Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, is the best known, as it prefers to feed on human blood. Other Cimex species specialize in other animals, e.g., bat bugs, such as Cimex pipistrelli (Europe), Cimex pilosellus (western US), and Cimex adjunctus (entire eastern US).The name “bed bug” derives from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially nearby or inside of beds and bedding or other sleep areas.
Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed. Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. At a point in the early 1940s, they were mostly eradicated in the developed world, but have increased in prevalence since 1995, likely due to pesticide resistance. Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase, bed bug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well.
Dwellings can become infested with bed bugs in a variety of ways, such as:
- Bugs and eggs inadvertently brought in from other infested dwellings on a visiting person’s clothing or luggage
- Infested items (such as furniture, clothing, or backpacks) brought in
- Nearby dwellings or infested items, if easy routes are available for travel, e.g. through ducts or false ceilings
- Wild animals (such as bats or birds) that may also harbour bed bugs or related species such as the bat bug
- People visiting an infested area (dwelling, means of transport, entertainment venue, or lodging) and carrying the bugs to another area on their clothing, luggage, or bodies. Bedbugs are increasingly found in air travel.
- Though bed bugs will feed on pets, they do not live or travel on the skin of their hosts, and pets are not believed a factor in their spread
Males fertilize females only via traumatic insemination into the structure called the ectospermalege (the organ of Berlese, however the organ of Ribaga (as it was first named) was first designated as an organ of stridulation. These 2 names are not descriptive so other terminologies are used). On fertilization, the female’s ovaries finish developing, which suggests that sperm plays a role other than fertilizing the egg. Fertilization also allows for egg production through the corpus allatum. Sperm remains viable in a female’s spermathecae (a better term is conceptacle), a sperm carrying sack, for a long period of time as long as body temperature is optimum. The female lays fertilized eggs until she depletes the sperm found in her spermathecae (conceptacle). After the depletion of sperm, she lays a few sterile eggs. The number of eggs a Cimex lectularius female produces does not depend on the sperm she harbors but on the female’s nutritional level.
Impact on humans
Bed bugs can cause a number of health effects, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. They can be infected by at least 28 human pathogens, but no study has clearly found that the insect can transmit the pathogen to a human being. Bed bug bites or cimicosis may lead to a range of skin manifestations from no visible effects to prominent blisters.
Diagnosis involves both finding bed bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Treatment involves the elimination of the insect and measures to help with the symptoms until they resolve. They have been found with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and with vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), but the significance of this is still unknown.
Investigations into potential transmission of HIV, MRSA, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis E have not shown that bed bugs can cause this. However it might be possible that arboviruses are transmissible.