Bed bugs are a type of parasitic insect that can infest homes. The beg bugs that infest people's houses are usually a species called Cimex Lectularius, but other species can cause an infestation as well. Bed bugs bite people and drink a small amount of blood; some species of bed bug prefer to feed on the blood of other animals. Bed bugs were almost completely eradicated from human habitats in developed countries around 1940, but recently infestations have been on the increase. Bed bugs usually "hitchhike" into a home on clothing, luggage, furniture, pets, or people and the infection spreads when the bugs feed and reproduce.
Bed bugs are not strictly nocturnal, but they are usually active at night and often bite people when they are sleeping in their beds, hence the name "bed bug." An adult bed bug grows to be about 4 mm to 5 mm long and can be about 1.5 mm to 3 mm wide. A bed bug feeds on a host for several minutes. A bed bug usually feeds about once per week, but it can survive for longer periods of time without feeding. Bed bugs find their host by detecting carbon dioxide, which humans breathe out.
Bed bugs reproduce in an unusual manner. Male bed bugs actually pierce the female's exoskeleton with their genitalia and deposit sperm into the female's abdominal cavity. This behavior is called "traumatic insemination." The eggs are fertilized internally and the female lays the eggs. Bed bugs molt five times before they become reproducing adults. In homes with bed bug infestations, discarded exoskeletons from molting bed bugs may be found. The exoskeletons look like hollow versions of the bug itself.
Bed bugs are good at hiding and are active at night, which makes them hard to see. Bed bug bites may cause a rash, or something that looks like a mosquito or spider bite, on the part of the body that is being bitten. Some people can become allergic to bed bugs after being exposed to a bed bug infestation. Bed bug infestations have a musty sweet smell.
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