Bedbugs are small blood-sucking insects, ectoparasites, which feed upon warm-blooded animals, including man, bats and birds.
The exact number of species is uncertain; approximately 36 are recognized. Only two species, Cimex lecturarius and C rotundatas, attack man. Cimex lectularius is the common species of the temperate and sub-tropical regions, while the second species is restricted to tropical regions of Asia and Africa. Cimex columbarius infests pigeons in Europe; Cimex pilosellus and C pipistrelli occur on bats in North America and Europe respectively; Oeciacus vicarius and O hirundinis occur on birds and will attack man; and Haematosiphon inodorus, the poultry bug, is a serious pest of domestic birds and may invade human dwellings. Bedbugs are among the most cosmopolitan of human parasites. During the day they conceal themselves within mattresses, the joints of bedspreads, or cracks in the wall. At night they suck the blood of man, and after feeding retreat to their hiding places. They can exist up to a year without food. Their bites may cause allergic reactions and itching, and are possible sites for secondary infection.