Food consumption

Bed bugs live exclusively on blood. The common bed bug prefers human blood but can suck on other animals. It is photophobic and spends most of his life hidden near places where potential blood donors spend the nighttime. If it lives under optimal conditions, hunger will drive the bed bug out of hiding approx. once a week. It happens at night, and with the help of sensory organs in its antennae, it finds its prey by going after the carbon dioxide we exhale and the humid heat from our body. It will select an appropriate thin-skinned place where the blood vessels are not too far in. Preferably on exposed parts of the body, face, neck, arms and feet if they stick out from under the covers. It is reluctant to seek through the clothes. The proboscis is a rather complex instrument (fig xx?).The two maxillae are connected to form two tubes. A thinner tube where the salivary glands end. The saliva leaking into the wound during suction, contains a substance that prevents blood from clotting as well as a local anesthetic. It is obviously important that the suction can be done without the victim noticing. Through the slightly thicker tube, the blood squeezes up into the bed bug’s digestive system. Along this double tube is a pair of needle-shaped mouth parts which are suitable for piercing and cutting through the epidermis and into an appropriate blood vessel. A sheath, formed by the insect’s labium, when not in use, protects this whole system. It takes bed bugs between 5 and 10 minutes to fill up on blood. Then it withdraws its proboscis and folds it back under its head. On average, it will have spent approx. 20 minutes in contact with its host. At room temperature, a bed bug can live a few months without a blood meal. At 13 degrees Celsius it can survive a season without getting food. With food consumption it will often shed its black, blood-containing excrement, which you then can find on the bedding.