Beg bugs are adverse to light and therefore, they often hide inside cracks and crevices during daytime. They are nocturnal insects and become active during midnight until just before dawn. This pest takes blood as their main meal and they obtain it by piercing into blood vessels and taking the fluid. Human are the preferred host of bed bugs and they tend to feed on bare skin while the host is sleeping. Therefore, they normally stay near to the host and prefer materials such as wood and paper for refuge.
Places that are commonly infested including picture frames, wooden furniture, door and window frames, power switches, curtains, baseboard, etc. The bed bugs’ foraging activity radius is usually within 30m. They are efficient hitchhikers and are easily transported. Consequently, the dispersion of bed bugs relies heavily on transportation such as the train, airplane, boat, bus as well as movement of human or goods.
Although there is no concrete evidence to show that this bug is a vector of serious diseases, it is the biting during feeding that could cause allergic reaction, swelling or irritation. Some people may lose sleep due to entomophobia (fear of “bug”). The main clues of an infestation will be the presence of blood stains, reddish fecal spots, egg cases and cast skins could be easily spotted. In addition, a heavy infested area will also create an unpleasant odor.
There are currently two species of bed bugs - the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) and tropical bed bug (Cimex hemipterus), which are found across the world. In Malaysia, the most common species encountered is the tropical bed bug (Cimex hemipterus). Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish brown in color, and measure about 4-5mm long. They are broadly oval and flat with the absence of wings.
A female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs per day and it can produce more than 200 eggs over its entire life span. The eggs will take about 20 days to complete its development into adults under optimum condition and they will live for another 6-12 months. These bugs can also survive long period of starvation.