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How to recog­nise bed bugs?

Despite their small size, bed­bugs are vis­i­ble to the naked eye. When they have fast­ed, mature spec­i­mens have a flat, oval body with tiny, bris­tle-like hairs, a pair of thin four-mem­bered anten­nae, and a length of approx. 4 — 8 mm. They are almost trans­par­ent in appear­ance. They also have a pro­boscis which is fold­ed under the bel­ly as well as stunt­ed forewings on the head. Over­all, they give the impres­sion of hav­ing six legs.

After feed­ing, i.e. when they are full of blood, they appear light yel­low and/​or light brown to red­dish brown and their length grows to about 9 mm. The rear part of the par­a­site has an increas­ing­ly black­ish colour.

Drop­pings, blood stains, the skin of cocoons, dead bed bugs and an unpleas­ant, sweet smell — These are fur­ther dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures of an infes­ta­tion of bedbugs

The par­a­site leaves drop­pings, which are recog­nis­able as small black spots (ink-like) or dark red spots. Such stains can be seen on bed­ding and/​or the mat­tress, on the bed frame or behind elec­tri­cal sock­ets, joints and every­where where they live.

Small red blood marks that devel­op when bit­ing into the human skin, can also be evi­dence of the pres­ence of bedbugs.

In the moult­ing process, the insects strip cocoon skins, so-called exu­vi­ae. These very light-coloured shed skins have the shape of the pest and are found in their hid­ing places.

If you dis­cov­er dead ani­mals, you should def­i­nite­ly arrange for a pro­fes­sion­al to look for the pos­si­ble pres­ence of live animals.

The over­all impres­sion of a room is also very impor­tant. If you sense an intense sweet­ish smell, it is very like­ly that you will have a bed­bug attack. The smell is caused by a gland mes­sen­ger that bed­bugs release as alarm pheromone.

The “bed­bug line”

Once the ectopar­a­sites have iden­ti­fied their host, they set­tle on their skin and begin their meal. They push their pro­boscis through the human skin to get to small blood ves­sels. Bed­bug bites usu­al­ly show up in one place or in a row next to each oth­er, the so-called “bed­bug line”. Rea­sons for the dif­fer­ent bite pat­terns may be that the par­a­sites pull their pro­boscis out of the skin when their host moves and con­tin­ue to suck blood at a loca­tion next to it or that sev­er­al bed bugs simul­ta­ne­ous­ly suck blood side by side.

Clas­sic places where bed­bugs bite

Bed­bug bites are most like­ly to appear on exposed body parts: Face, neck, arms, legs, feet, back

  1. Bed­bug eggs
  2. First stage cocoon (+ cast­ing of the skin)
  3. Sec­ond stage cocoon (+ cast­ing of the skin)
  4. Third stage cocoon (+ cast­ing of the skin)
  5. Fourth stage cocoon (+ cast­ing of the skin)
  6. Fifth stage cocoon (+ cast­ing of the skin)
  7. Mature in a fast­ed state
  8. Mature after feeding
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