The liberal utilization of the term "bedbug" might lead you to believe that we're only dealing with a single species of insects. However, the truth is that the genus Cimex contains a plethora of different specimens, each of them with a proprietary behavior and habitat. From this genus, the most frequently encountered exponent of the family is the Cimex Lectularis.
In fact, the reason why these insects have earned the general title of bedbug consists of their preferred habitat, which consists of the sleeping areas of the home. Due to the fact that popular culture suggests that bedbugs are not able to transmit deadly diseases, many people tend to ignore their presence. But are they really so harmless?
The typical behavior of the bedbug
Bedbugs are masters of concealment and camouflage, thanks to their small dimensions that permit these parasites to hide in the smallest crevasses of your bed/sofa. They are night predators and they generally prefer to come out at night and feed on you while you are sleeping. Bedbugs don't have a powerful bite, but they can penetrate the skin and you will notice bumps on your body as well as small dot-size drops of blood on the sheets.
The bite of the insect is accompanied by the injection of an anti-coagulant chemical that permits it too feed continuously until it's saturated without the wound closing (3-5 minutes). They spread quite quickly and pass through the 5 nymph stages in no time at all.
How did I get bedbugs?
Because humans are their preferred "prey", some people erroneously believe that we are also the carriers of the bedbugs. That is in fact untrue: bedbugs are transported from one place to another via luggage, sheets, old furniture and similar means. This is the reason why purchasing a second-hand bed or mattress is a genuinely bad idea, particularly if you are uncertain of the provenience.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, these parasites are incredibly resourceful and it won't take them long to start a colony with only a couple of exponents of their species. At the same time, they employ ingenious methods to avoid eradication, as you will find out in a moment.
Can't I eliminate the infestation myself?
Unlike certain pests, it's almost impossible to get rid of the bedbug colony completely or avoid a relapse. I remember a friend of mine was telling me about her bedbug infestation, which started out in the bedroom of her 6 year old son. While at first they did not believe the child's stories about the bedbugs, the bite marks became so prevalent that they had to take action. Although they won a small victory against the colony of bedbugs and successfully eliminated them from the kid's room, they sprouted again in the living room sofa. And again in their bedroom! And again in the child's room!
In essence, all they managed to do with conventional DIY pest control solutions was to chase the bedbugs from one part of the home to the other. Finally, they had no choice but to call in a professional who managed to effectively eradicate the bedbugs. Even so, the extent of the colony gave that guy a lot of trouble. Now, they're a lot more careful about tiny bite marks, I can tell you that.