We all grew up hearing the phrase, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” But unless you’ve ever lived in a house that had a bed bug infestation, you don’t know how genuine a blessing that phrase is. Bed bugs can make your life miserable and can be very difficult to get rid of.
When most of us think of bed bugs, we think of one species, but did you know there are more than ninety? Read on to discover the different types of bed bugs and which one you may have in your home.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Before we dive into the many different bed bug types, let’s talk some about what bed bugs are. Bed bugs are small insects about the size, shape, and color of an apple seed. These insects live in fabric such as clothes, carpets, and, yes, beds, and they feed off of blood.
There are about ninety known species of bed bugs worldwide, but luckily for us, only four of them feed on human blood. Of those four, only two prefer human blood. The other two species will feed on humans if their other prey is unavailable, but these infestations tend to be rarer and less serious.
Common Bed Bug
As its name suggests, the most common bed bug species is, well, the common bed bug. This species, known more properly as “cimex leticularius” is one of the two that prefers to feed on humans. In fact, they are known for how well they adapt to the human environment, settling very well into homes, apartments, hotels, and condos.
The common bed bug is somewhere between four and six millimeters long and have short antennae and legs. They can live without food for fifteen months, and their habit of laying eggs before they go out to feast on humans makes them tremendously hard to get rid of. Even if you kill the adult colony, a week or so later, the eggs will hatch, those bed bugs will lay new eggs, and the cycle begins again.
Tropical Bed Bug
The other bed bug species that prefers humans is the tropical bed bug, whose scientific name is “cimex hemipterus.” Tropical bed bugs are tremendously similar to common bed bugs, and only a trained entomologist with a microscope could reliably differentiate the two. The bugs look quite similar and have the same life cycle, nesting areas, and impact on humans.
The primary thing that differentiates the tropical bed bug from the common bed bug is their habitat. While the common bed bug lives all over the world, the tropical bed bug inhabits tropical regions. In the United States, you’ll only find this species in Florida, as well as some isolated colonies in other southeastern coastal states.
The bat bug is one of those two bed bug species that will feed on humans only if it has no other prey. As its name suggests, the bat bug prefers instead to feed on the blood of bats. The scientific name of this species is “cimex adjunctus” and they are similar to the other two species we’ve mentioned in almost every aspect except their preferred prey.
If you have bat bugs in your home, there’s a very good chance you also have bats living somewhere in your home. Some pest control companies will help take care of bats living in your home, as well as bed bugs. In many cases, bats can be rehomed to bat houses outside of your home, where they will be safe and help control unwanted bugs around your property.
The last type of bed bug that will bite humans if it has no other available prey is the poultry bug. Also called the Mexican chicken bug, this species of bed bugs lives among a variety of poultry animals, including ducks, geese, turkeys, and, of course, chickens. They do also affect wild birds like hawks and eagles.
Poultry bugs cause the most problem for domestic birds, which can get sick as a result of a bug infestation. If you have chickens or other domestic birds around your property, you could also be at risk of getting bitten.
Barn Swallow Bug
The last bed bug species we’ll mention here, the barn swallow bug, is one of the eighty-seven species of bed bugs that does not affect humans. But this bug does have some interesting features that make it worth noting. They can also show up in human habitats thanks to the migration of the birds they feast on.
The barn swallow bug’s native habitat is the cliffs where swallows like to nest. They can go into a hibernation state and survive several days without a food source. But most interestingly of all, unlike most other insects and the other species of bed bugs we’ve mentioned here, the barn swallow bug has hair.
How to Identify Bed Bugs
There are a few telltale signs that can clue you in that you may have bed bugs. The first thing you’ll notice is sores on your arms and legs; these are tremendously itchy and are the result of bed bug bites. These bites tend to show up on exposed areas of skin, such as the lower arms and legs, rather than on the trunk.
If these bites start showing up, flip your mattress up and take a close look around the edges of it. Tucked into the seams at the corner of the mattress, you may find a few small bugs that look like an apple seed. These are bed bugs, and if you find them, you need to call an exterminator immediately.
Discover the Different Types of Bed Bugs
Although there are nearly 100 different types of bed bugs, only four affect humans at all. If you have a bed bug infestation in your home, odds are you have the common bed bug. But if you live in Florida, you may ask your bed bug exterminator if you could have an infestation of tropical bed bugs.
If you’d like help getting rid of bed bugs or any other creepy crawlies, check out the rest of our site at Fast Action Pest Control. We can help you get rid of spiders, silverfish, termites, bed bugs, and more. Get a free inspection today and start taking your home back the safe and easy way.