Adult bedbugs are oval, wingless insects, which are about 5-7 mm long.
They are flat bodied and this particular feature allows them to hide in narrow spaces such as into cracks and crevices.
When unfed, they are pale yellow or brownish in colour, but after a full blood meal, they take a darker uniform 'mahogany' brown colour.
Bedbugs have piercing mouthparts formed into a proboscis, used to pierce the host's skin. They have three pairs of legs that are slender but well-developed and with efficient tarsal claws for clinging on to the host during feeding.
Both male and female bedbugs take blood meals and are thus equally important as pests. Blood provides them with the proteins necessary for their survival and for the production of eggs in females.
They normally prefer human hosts to fulfil their blood requirements, but in the absence of people, bedbugs will also feed on a variety of other hosts, such as rabbits, rats, mice, bats, poultry and other birds. During daylight hours, both adults and nymphs hide in dark and dry places, such as in cracks and crevices commonly found in furniture, walls, ceilings or floorboards, underneath seams of wallpaper and between mattresses and beds. At night, adults and nymphs crawl from these resting places to feed on sleeping people, after which they return to their resting sites to digest the blood meal.
As a result of their preference for human hosts, bedbugs live in close association with human beings and consequently cause substantial nuisance through their blood-feeding habits. The bites cause itching and redness for most people.
One of our terriers, Trixie, (currently on maternity leave) is specially trained to identify quickly where bedbugs have infested a room. They can be found not only in beds but all furniture, light fittings and even books. Our state of the art equipment is used to steam a room and furniture to a high temperature. This kills not only the adults but also the eggs, which using chemicals alone cannot always do.