What are bed bugs?

Bed bug on a leaf.

Bed bugs, sometimes called protection bugs, are members of the order Hemiptera. These insects are aptly named because they have small glands located in the thorax that are capable of emitting a foul-smelling liquid. This ability is believed to be a defense mechanism that can be employed against predators; when a bed bug is mistreated, for example, it releases a foul odor.

Characteristics

Colored thumbtack.

There are thousands of bed bug species around the world. Two of the best-known species are the brown bug (Euschistus servus) and the green bug (Acrosternum hilare or Chinavia hilaris). Both are commonly found in the United States and other countries, especially Asia, where many species are believed to have originated.

Bed bugs range in color from brown to bright green, although many are duller shades designed to blend in with vegetation; some, however, have bright orange markings that serve as a warning to predators. Almost all species are distinguished by a triangle-shaped plate or shield on their back. Bed bugs are part of an order of insects sometimes called “true bed bugs”, which do not chew with their mouths; instead, they have a trunk that allows them to suck liquids from vegetation or other creatures.

Lifespan

Bed bugs can damage cotton fields.

Many bed bug species reproduce quickly, with some laying eggs several times a year. Females typically lay several batches of eggs, usually on the leaves of plants, which hatch in about a week; it usually takes several additional weeks for insects to mature from nymphs to adults. Nymphs look a lot like adults, although adults have four wings and nymphs none.

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Bed bugs are often attracted to beans.

These insects are generally active from spring to late fall in most regions. At night they are attracted to light and therefore can sometimes be seen flying. They often hang around different types of vegetation, especially tomatoes, melons, and beans.

agricultural pests

Most bed bugs are herbivores, which makes them a serious pest for agriculture as well as home gardeners. In significant numbers, these species can be very harmful to crops, especially peaches, soybeans, cotton and grains. Certain species can damage the stems so that the plant cannot produce grain, or even kill the seedlings. When they feed on peaches and tomatoes, they can create ugly scars and malformations called “cat face”.

Bed bugs can be very harmful to peach plantations.

Some species of bed bugs are considered useful and not harmful to plants. The anchor bug (Stiretrus anchorago) and the rough bug (Brochymena arborea), for example, attack caterpillars, beetles and other pests. Before assuming that a bed bug is harmful, a gardener can try to identify it.

Pest control

Bed bugs can be difficult to control because they are resistant to some insecticides; there are a few varieties that work, however, and can be tested if bugs become an issue. If they are found in a garden, cleaning the area thoroughly, including pulling and weeding, discarding all leaf litter and other debris, and washing pots and other garden items, can help reduce their numbers. Using a pressure washer to clean the exterior of a home and any other external structures can also help.

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Bed bugs are attracted to tomato plants.

Homeowners should keep doors and windows tightly closed to prevent insects from entering, as they often seek shelter inside their homes during the winter. If bed bugs are found inside a home, they can be vacuumed or carefully picked up by hand and eliminated quickly. People should be cautious when dealing with bed bugs; they are not harmful to humans, but they release their odor when handled roughly. The unpleasant smell tends to linger, but unlike the similar odor of a skunk, the smell can be washed off using soap and water.

bed bugs as food

Insecticides, which can be sprayed with sprayers, can be used to control bed bug populations that threaten farms.

Stink bugs are eaten in some parts of the world, and people who eat them often say that the bugs’ strong odor enhances their flavor. In Laos, they are sometimes eaten fried or mixed into a paste along with spices and herbs. They are sometimes eaten live in Mexico or are mixed into salsa or used as part of the filling for tacos.

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