Bed bugs are small brown insects that look a little like wood ticks and are about the size of an apple seed. They typically spend the day in small cracks and crevices in the bedroom—often in the bed itself. At night they bite and feed on the blood of the person sleeping in the bed, then return to their hiding place. Some people have no reaction to the bites, but many people develop a small welt similar to a mosquito bite. Bed bugs are not known to transmit any disease, but of course they can still make your life miserable.
Bed bugs live for ten or eleven months under normal conditions. An adult female can lay several eggs a day and hundreds over her lifetime. The eggs are tiny and hard to detect. Immature bed bugs have the same basic shape as the adults but are smaller and lighter in color. A bed bug molts (sheds its skin) five times before becoming an adult capable of reproducing. It has to have at least one meal of fresh blood before each molt. Under ideal conditions a bed bug can go from hatchling to adult in as little as a month.
The shape of the bug changes after it has fed. Before feeding, it’s quite flat (in order to hide in cracks) and roundish. After feeding, the bug is longer, no longer flat, and is more of a purplish color. Under the right conditions adults can survive up to one year without feeding, which is one reason it can be so hard to get bed bugs out of your home.
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