Australian Wildlife

  Bed bug (Cimex lectularius)

Bed bug | Cimex lectularius photo

Image by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Health and Human Service - License: Public Domain.    (view image details)

Bed bug | Cimex lectularius photo
Blood-fed Cimex lectularius

Image by A.L. Szalanski, - Some rights reserved.    (view image details)


Bed bugs used to be a common public health pest around the world, but infestations declined in the twentieth century. In recent years there have been an alarming increase in infestations in many countries including Australia. Bed bugs are wingless nocturnal parasites. Their flattened oval-shaped body allows them to hide in cracks and crevices, and they are quite fast runners when disturbed. They are light brown changing to red brown after feeding on blood. They do not live on humans and only make contact when feeding on blood. The bite usually leaves a large, reddened, itchy mark, fading to a red spot. Bed bugs are not thought to transmit any diseases to people.

Other Names

length 4mm to 7mm

Bed bugs shelter in dark locations, mostly near where people sleep, such as under mattresses, under bed frames, floorboards, behind wall pictures, on carpets, behind skirting, wall cracks and crevices of walls. Blood spots on the sheets is often an indication of an infestation. They are most often found in buildings such as hotels, motels, hostels, shelters and housing units.

Bed bugs have mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. They feed on human blood at night, although will feed on blood of other mammals if no human host can be found. When they pierce the skin they inject saliva with anticoagulant properties, then suck blood for about ten minutes.

The female lays 2 - 3 eggs a day throughout her life. The eggs are cream and about 1mm in length, and are stuck to rough surfaces of hiding places. Eggs hatch after about 10 days. The juvenile bed bugs look like small adults and go through five stages before development to adult is complete.

Bedbugs are found throughout the world, and are easily transported from place to place in luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture.

Common Name:Bed bug