Bedbugs are blood-feeding insects, which range in length from 1-6mm, depending on life stage and how recently they have fed. They are primarily associated with humans but can also feed on other animals. In some countries they are a problematic pest of poultry breeding houses.

At warm room temperatures bedbugs feed approximately weekly. After each feed, nymphs will moult into the next ‘instar’ (life stage). They go through five nymphal instars before reaching adulthood. The entire life-cycle can therefore be completed in as little as 6 weeks, however it may take many months in cooler environments.

Adult female bedbugs with regular access to blood lay 15-25 eggs per week and may live up to a year. Without food bedbugs can survive for many months, and potentially even over a year in cool, humid conditions. However, starving bedbugs will neither develop or reproduce.

Bedbugs seek out small cracks and crevices (usually in or close to the bed) in which to hide between feeds. Typical hiding places include the bed frame, the headboard, behind peeling wallpaper along the top of the skirting board and around the edge of the mattress. Where people spend a large proportion of the day sitting on an armchair or sofa, these can also become infested.

A common misconception about bedbugs is that they are associated with dirty living conditions. This is fundamentally wrong. Bedbugs can be picked up by anybody from virtually anywhere where frequented by people.

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