In The Art of War, Sun Tzu says “knowing thy enemy” is the best way to defeat him. Although paraphrasing the works of Sun Tzu may be on the extreme side, the aforementioned logic can still be applied to a bed bug infestation: Once you know everything about bed bugs, identifying and eliminating them become much easier tasks.
While there may be a lot to know about bed bugs, understanding basic anatomy is an effective first step. The following guide will set out to answer common questions such as “do bed bugs have wings?” and provide basic information about bed bug anatomy.
General Structure, Size, Color, and Shape
Bed bugs are insects belonging to the order hemiptera. This means that, like other insects, they have six legs and three main components of their bodies: a head, thorax, and abdomen. Regardless of their age, all bed bugs – except for eggs – are flat and oval shaped and have long antennae.
The size and color of a bed bug, however, will vary with its age. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and rusty brown in color, whereas younger bed bugs – also known as “nymphs” – are usually white or tan, translucent, and no larger than a poppy seed. Bed bugs of all ages will become bloated and red after a blood meal.
The order hemiptera covers “true bugs,” which include bed bugs. True bugs feature piercing and sucking mouths which, although usually used for plant sap, can be used for sucking blood from humans and animals. Whenever bed bugs pierce the skin, they release an anticoagulant that prevents blood from clotting.
Other features of the head include heat-sensing antennae and protruding eyes.
Legs and Other Forms of Mobility
Bed bugs have six legs that allow them to crawl on horizontal and vertical surfaces. Their legs, however, are incapable of jumping.
Do bed bugs have wings? No. If you see wings or a vertical line down the back of a bug indicating wings, you can breath easily.
Telling male and female bed bugs apart is an easy task: Male bed bugs have a pointed tip on their abdomen, whereas females have a rounded tip. Bed bugs mate through a process known as “traumatic insemination,” where the male bed bug pierces the female’s abdomen and ejaculates inside, fertilizing her eggs. The female can lay nearly 500 eggs over the course of her life.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons