BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR The human bedbug and its relatives form a small group of bloodsucking. Bat bugs are rare in Utah. Bat bugs and bedbugs are characterized by short broad heads. The head is attached to the pro-thorax and an oval body. The body, as a whole, is broad and flat, enabling the bugs to crawl between narrow crevices. The adults are 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, brown, and wingless. After taking a blood meal, bedbugs change enough in size, shape, and color so as to make them look like an entirely different insect. The immature stages, known as nymphs, resemble the adults in shape, but are yellow-white in color.
The adult female deposits eggs in cracks, crevices, behind woodwork, and in similar locations. Eggs hatch in six to 17 days with 10 days being the average. The newly hatched nymphs feed as soon as food is available. The average time for complete development of bedbugs and bat bugs is 1-1/2 months. Adults can then live for a year or more. The bite of these bugs is often painless, but a toxic saliva injected during the bite will later cause severe itching and a large inflamed area often called a weal. Humans may vary widely in sensitivity to these bites. This bite can be distinguished from a fleabite by the absence of a red surrounding halo and the presence of a red central area within the inflamed area.
Bedbugs commonly move from one location to the next in infested furniture and bedding. Bedbugs also relocate by way of water pipes, gutters, through windows, along walls, and other such paths. Migrations often occur if a structure is vacated and their food supply is cut off. Populations of bat bugs usually develop on nesting bats, birds, or small mammals before invading living areas through cracks and crevices. Typically, bat bug infestations originate from animal populations established in the attics.
Problems with bat bugs are often severe for a few days or weeks before dying down. This time is short because survival is poor without the natural animal hosts. As an infestation increases, bat bugs and bedbugs will infest other areas of the home or structure. Indicators of an infestation may also include bloodstains on walls and bed linens, excrement spots, and cast skins from immature stages. An odor resembling the smell of fresh red raspberries is associated with bedbugs but not with bat bugs.
BEDBUG CONTROL METHODS Where bedbugs and bat bugs are a problem, the original sites of infestation should be treated. Applications should be concentrated on living areas by treating cracks and crevices and areas around light fixtures and any other place the bedbugs and bat bugs may use to migrate or hide. With bat bugs, exclusion and removal of bats and other hosts in the home or structure should also occur. This last step should be coordinated with insecticide treatments, since an increased movement of bat bugs into the living area may occur after removal of the animals. Follow up bedbug and bat bug control with a thorough examination to find hiding places of the insects. Any place offering darkness and protection such as areas behind baseboards, under loose rugs or wallpaper, and in mattresses should be checked. Also examine folds in chairs, beds, and couches. In barn swallow bug control, federal and state laws protect swallows and their nests. Management of these birds and their nests must involve taking these regulations into account.
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