The family of bed bugs, commonly known as Cimicidae, consists of two sub-varieties namely the common bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) and the tropical bed bugs (Cimex Hemipterus). The C.Lectularius is predominantly seen in temperate regions while the tropical bed bugs, as their name suggests, are seen in tropical or warmer regions including southern states of USA as well as countries in Asia and Africa.
The common bed bugs are more widely reported in the United States, mainly because of their efficient feeding habits, than those compared to the tropical bed bugs.
Habits of the Cimex Hemipterus
Like the C.lectularius, the tropical bed bugs are nidicolous parasites (living in the same environment as their hosts). Their infestations are not life threatening but they do affect the quality of life and are a major economic concern for households.
The tropical bed bugs do not like light; they hide in cracks to avoid it during the day. They are known to prefer wood, paper, wall plaster, textiles and linen for their harborages. They feed at night and take nearly 3-5 minutes to engorge on the host’s blood. After this, they return to their hiding places. The Cimex Hemipterus are capable of traveling up to 20 feet from their harborage to the sleeping hosts.
Tropical bed bugs have been reported in various types of dwellings in the US, including small or multifamily homes, five star hotels, motels as well as airplanes, buses, day care centers etc.
Physical description and life cycle of tropical bed bugs
Both species of the Cimicidae family are small, flat and oval shaped. Their bodies are reddish brown in color; the adults typically measure about quarter of an inch to 5/8th of an inch in length. The nymphs/larvae and adult bed bugs are equipped with special mouth parts that enable them to draw blood from their warm blooded hosts. Both varieties are incapable of flight as they are wingless.
The female tropical bed bugs lay up to 200 to 500 eggs which hatch after 6 to 17 days under favorable conditions. The larvae or the nymph Cimex Hemipterus molt several times before reaching adulthood. Adult Cimex Hemipterus can survive up to a year, (10 months without a blood meal).
Controlling tropical bed bugs infestations
Very large infestations can be a bit difficult to treat and control. Education and timely inspections are a must and should be made part of the overall control program. In case of very large infestations, one might notice an “obnoxiously sweet odor”. Other signs include discarded exoskeletons and fecal matter that are visible in the form of reddish stains and spots around the edges of the bedding.
Here are a few steps recommended for controlling these pests:
- Use a flashlight when inspecting cracks and crevices. Check all the carpets, electrical outlets, headboards, box springs etc.
- Use flushing agents or contact insecticides in all potential harborage areas.
- Strip down the beds right down to their box springs.
- Wash all linen, curtains, pillows and covers in hot water.
- Take down all pictures, wall art and other furniture and have them treated.
- Vacuum or brush all bedding areas.
- Discard severely infested upholstery, linen, bedding etc. Seal and mark these items as being bed-bug infested, so that unsuspecting individuals do not take them home.
- Pyrethrum dust and DE powders are excellent for treating wall voids.
Staying safe from the Cimex Hemipterus
Just because you do not live in tropical or warm regions, does not mean that you are completely safe from Cimex Hemipterus infestations. Even if you visit Florida for a vacation, you may be at a risk of bringing these pests back home with you. Moreover, these bugs are capable of surviving a good amount of time without feeding. Tropical bed bugs are also small and can hide in luggage, on clothes etc. They can also breed under favorable conditions such as warm and humid environments that are typically available in most households.
Tropical bed bug bites can elicit cutaneous and systematic reactions that can be highly unpleasant. Moreover, increasing resistance of the bugs to common household pesticides over the past few decades have necessitated the need of improved diagnostics and elimination methods.
It is important to inspect the hotel rooms where you are staying to prevent bringing bed bugs in your luggage. Moreover, if you do suspect a Cimex Hemipterus infestation it is vital to use professional measures to ensure complete elimination.