|Description:||This digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image revealed some of the morphology displayed on the dorsal exoskeletal surface of a bedbug, Cimex lectularius. A member of the phylum Arthropoda, this insect has three pairs of jointed legs, hence the name, “Arthro” = jointed, and “poda” = legs. What appeared to be “hair” was not hair at all, but sensory structures known as “setae”, and are composed of chitin, the same material as the rest of this organism’s exoskeleton. Chitin is a molecule made up of bound units of acetylglucosamine, joined in such a way as to allow for increased points at which hydrogen bonding can occur. In this way chitin provides increased strength, and durability as an exoskeletal foundation.|
Bedbugs are not vectors in nature of any known human disease. Although some disease organisms have been recovered from bedbugs under laboratory conditions, none have been shown to be transmitted by bedbugs outside of the laboratory.
The common bedbug, C. lectularius is a wingless, red-brown, blood-sucking insect that grows up to 7mm in length, and has a lifespan from 4 months up to 1 year. Bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices in beds, wooden furniture, floors, and walls during the daytime and emerge at night to feed on their preferred host, humans.
C. lectularius injects saliva into the blood stream of their host to thin the blood, and to prevent coagulation. It is this saliva that causes the intense itching and welts. The delay in the onset of itching gives the feeding bedbug time to escape into cracks and crevices. In some cases, the itchy bites can develop into painful welts that last several days. Bedbug bites are difficult to diagnose due to the variability in bite response between people, and due to the change in skin reaction for the same person over time.