bedbug, any of the small, blood-sucking bugs of the family Cimicidae, which includes about 30 species distributed throughout the world. Bedbugs are flat-bodied, oval, reddish brown, and about 1/4 in. (6 mm) long. They emit an unpleasant-smelling oily secretion from two glands on their undersurface. All are parasites of warm-blooded animals. The common human bedbug of temperate regions, Cimex lectularis, is largely nocturnal, spending the day in crevices in walls and furniture and in bedding. Its bite causes irritation in many individuals, but it is not known to transmit diseases. It will feed on other mammals and poultry when humans are not available and can live up to a year without feeding. Maturation from egg to adult takes about two months in warm conditions; there may be three or four generations a year. Control methods include steaming, heat treatment, spraying, fumigating, and sealing mattresses and box springs; the bedbug can be difficult to eradicate and has become resistant to some insecticides. Another parasite of humans, C. hemipterus, is common in the Old World tropics. A North American species, Haematosiphon inodora, parasitizing poultry, will also bite humans. Other species attack bats and various kinds of bird. Bedbugs are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Hemiptera, family Cimicidae.
See publications of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.