Bedbugs are small parasites of the insect family – Cimicidae, more commonly classified as Cimex lectularius. This classification refers to the species that feed off of the blood of warm-blooded animals, including human blood. Fully matured bedbugs are oval, flattened, wingless, and are reddish-brown in color. Adults will grow up to 4 to 5 millimeters in length and 1.5 to 3 millimeters wide. Before reaching maturity, these newly hatched nymphs are lighter in color, almost translucent. In order to communicate with each other regarding attacks, nesting locations, and reproduction, they will secrete pheromones and kairomones.
Their life span varies depending on their species, eating habits, and nesting climates. Bedbugs can endure a wide range of atmospheric compositions and temperatures. Adults can survive longer once they enter semi-hibernation, usually around 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16.1 C). At 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 C), they can usually survive for around 5 days, but once exposed to -26 Fahrenheit (-32 C), they will be dead within 15 minutes. The Genus Cimex lectularius can survive up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 C), and all other stages of life are killed within 7 minutes of exposure to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 C). Although bedbugs are attracted by carbon carbon dioxide, high concentrations of it for a long period of time can kill them. However, exposure to nearly-pure nitrogen has little to no effect on them, even after 3 days.
Bedbugs are obligatory hematophagous, or bloodsucking, parasites that normally feed on humans, unless there is another food supply available. They are attracted to their hosts’ carbon dioxide, as well as their warmth, among other certain chemicals. These insects pierce their hosts’ skin, feeding through two hollow tubes. One tube will inject anticoagulants and anesthetics, which make up their saliva, while the other draws blood. They will return to their place of hiding after feeding for about 5 minutes. Bedbugs can live up to a year without feeding.
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