Project Description

Bed Bugs in Ohio – Information and Facts

Bed Bugs Infesting Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio, has repeatedly been ranked near the top of the list of most bed bug-populated cities in the United States. In the 2023 and 2024 reports, Orkin ranked Cleveland/ Akron the 4th worst bed bug city. What does this mean? Probably is a tell-tale sign that we need to learn more about this troublesome pest.

What Type Of Insect Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are categorized within the Order Hemiptera.

This is the order of true bugs. While this does not mean much to most people, you might be able to draw a relationship. Most true bugs receive their nourishment from plants. For example, cicadas, aphids, and stinkbugs are true bugs.

True bugs use specialized piercing-sucking mouth parts to extract juices from vegetation. On the other hand, bed bugs and kissing bugs have adapted themselves to feed on animals. It’s the same feeding concept, just a different fluid.

Bed Bugs are members of the family Cimicidae.

Bed Bugs Affecting Humans

Surprisingly, there are 91 species in the bed bug family. Most of them are associated with birds and bats. Cimex lectularius is the common bed bug. Another species related to humans is the tropical bed bug, Cimex hemipterus. Unlucky people can find them in Florida.

Bed Bugs Sometimes Affecting Humans

Other bed bug species that occasionally bite humans are bat bugs, pigeon bugs, chimney swift bugs, poultry, and swallow bugs. When their hosts nest in buildings, they can come down and bite human occupants. Ohio State University stated a few times in our training that many reported bed bug infestations in Ohio turn out to be bat bugs. I would guess that this occurs mostly away from cities.

Bed Bug Identification

All of these Cimicidae bugs look similar.

  • Their flattened oval body has a small head that broadly attaches to it.
  • They are wingless or have vestigial wings. Those are small wings that are remnants of their flying ancestors. Similar to an ostrich.
  • They have a beak with three segments and a four-segmented antenna.

How Bed Bugs Look Specifically

Some bed bugs can eat better than others. Can you imagine being the bed bug that has to live on the curtains away from the bed? As a result, some bed bugs are leaner than others. Adults can weigh twice as much after feeding.

  • They grow into 1/4-inch-long adults that are half as wide.
  • The tip of the female’s abdomen is rounded. Males are more pointed.
  • They are colored in blood. The youngest are near clear until they get a few blood meals. Then, they darken from yellow to brown/ brownish-red.
  • Eggs are 1mm long pearly white capsules. All life stages are clearly visible to the naked eye.
  • While they do not appear hairy, you will see bands of golden hairs under the magnification. Bat bugs are different from bed bugs with their hairy collar.
  • Bed bugs release an odor when disturbed. They describe it as musty, sweet, or strawberry-like. Some people do not notice the odor.

Interesting Bed Bug Facts

  • Bed bugs can eat 8 mg. of blood.
  • They only feed on blood, and only survive long-term on human blood.
  • How often bed bugs feed depends on the temperature.  80 degrees is ideal.
  • They have more of a problem holding onto humans to relocate during colder temperatures.
  • Generally, bed bugs feed once per week. Nymphs feed more often than adults.

Bed Bug History

You may have heard that bed bugs developed from a bat parasite. During the caveman age, a man shared the shelter with the bat. The bat bug parasite didn’t have to travel far to begin feeding on the caveman. Over time, they adapted to take us on as their host. Now we have both bed bugs and bat bugs.

Bat bugs are said to be fuzzier. At one point, Ohio State University said that more infestations the State researched were due to bat bugs, not bed bugs. Keep in mind that they do not breed with one another. On top of that, they are both host-specific. As a result they generally either keep to bats or humans.

Throughout history, bed bugs have been a common pest. The broad application of the residual insecticide, DDT, supposedly nearly wiped them out. At the same time, bed bugs were developing a resistance to this pesticide’s mode of action. Eventually, DDT was banned. Subsequently common pest control practice evolved into spraying the interior of homes with pyrethroid insecticides. On top of controlling ants and cockroaches, the residual pesticides kept the bed bug population at bay for a long period of time. For many people, bed bugs were just part of a saying that your parents softly said after they tucked you in. Nearly 30 years later, I wonder how that statement was meant to comfort a young child.

Current pest control practices have implemented the use of baits. We now use baits to control our most common household pests. Doing so reduced the amount of pesticides being applied inside our homes. There is a good chance that this practice has allowed bed bugs to regain their foothold in our world, at least to a certain extent.

Life Cycle

Bed bugs go through an incomplete metamorphosis. That means there are eggs, nymphs and adults. There are no larvae or pupal stages of life. A female bed bug can lay three to four eggs each day. Eggs are clear in appearance. The females glue their eggs to the sides of tufts, folds, cracks, and crevices. Nymphs are immature stages of the adult. They are similar in structure but smaller and are often lighter in hue. They aggregate together with eggs and adults. Nymphs shed their exoskeleton multiple times as they mature in adults. Depending on their environment, bed bugs live approximately one year.