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Bed bugs

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Description

Bed bugs belong to the Cimicidae family. This family is composed of more than 100 species that feed on the blood of birds and mammals.

Two species live exclusively off humans: Cimex lectularius, which lives mainly in temperate zones, and C. hemipterus (F.), which is mainly found in tropical areas.

Before eating, bed bugs are brown or yellowish brown. Once they have fed on blood, they become reddish brown and resemble small apple seeds. Their heads include highly specialized piercing-sucking mouthparts. Generally, the tip of the male’s abdomen is pointed and the tip of the female’s abdomen is rounded.

Life cycle

The average lifespan of adult bed bugs is between 10 and 12 months. Their lifespan increases at lower temperatures. At 27°C, C. lectularius lives an average of  65 days, but at 10°C, the insect can live as long as 413 days.

In an unheated space without food, bed bugs will live even longer than when their living conditions are optimal.

Before mating, bed bugs must feed on blood so that eggs can mature for females and males can produce spermatozoa. Mating is unusual in that the male does not inseminate the female through her genital opening. Instead, he pierces his partner’s abdomen using his genital parts and then injects sperm directly into her reproductive system. Mating injuries reduce the female’s life span by 30 per cent. Over the course of her life, the female will mate an average of five times.

A female lays about 3 eggs a day, forming clusters of 10 to 50 eggs, often in combination with other females, and attaches them to her living environment: a window sill, grooves in the floor or in a piece of furniture, a cardboard box. She can lay between 200 and 500 eggs over the course of her life. Without food, she stops laying eggs after 11 days. At a temperature of 22°C, eggs hatch after about two weeks. They are whitish and measure about 1 mm long.

Bed bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis. At each of its five larval stages, it needs at least one meal of blood to go on to the next stage. First-stage larvae are 1 to 1.5 mm long, while fifth-stage larvae are 4.5 mm long on average. The insect’s rate of development increases with the temperature. At 30°C, the life cycle (egg to adult) lasts 24 days on average. Between 18 and 20°C, it lasts four months.

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