Here's a horrifying bit of trivia: there are actually around 90 species of bed bugs out there. Luckily, just three of them like to snack on humans.
Though it's not crucial for you to know the flavour of bed bug inhabiting your home, identifying the species of bug does help pest eradication professionals make sure they're providing you with the most effective service.
Here's an overview of different kinds of bed bugs and how to tell if you have a different type of infestation entirely.
The type of bed bugs you have largely depends on where you live.
The three kinds of bed bugs that feed on people are C. lectularius, C. hemipterus, and L. boueti.
C. lectularius and C. hemipterus are the ones you have to worry about if you live in Europe or the U.S. They feed on humans and like to nest in household items like mattresses, sofas, carpets, and even behind wallpaper.
L. boueti is only found in West Africa and South America, as it prefers tropical climates. Unless you live in those regions or have recently travelled there, this type of bug is unlikely to have taken up residence in your home.
Though the first two types of bed bugs will choose to feed on people if possible, L. boueti are mostly interested in bats. They won't pass up a human blood meal if it's convenient, but you're unlikely to encounter this species unless you live in an area with a large bat population.
Common signs of bed bugs in the home are small red bites that often appear in a line or zigzag pattern, as well as dark spotting on carpets, mattresses, and cloth furniture from faecal droppings.
Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to identify which type of bed bug you have.
According to Terminix, the two types of bed bugs common in the US and Europe usually have a wider prothorax (the upper half of the segment between a bug's neck and abdomen) and flatter edges than the tropical variety.
Unfortunately, unless you have a microscope and happen to be an entomologist, you're unlikely to be able to tell the different types of bed bugs apart. They all have similar nesting habits and can cause the same kind of damage to your home. Their bites are also identical.
In fact, you might have infestation of "bat bugs" or "swallow bugs" instead.
The reason that it's so important to have your home evaluated by a pest control company if you suspect a bed bug infestation is that you might be dealing with a different type of insect entirely.
Swallow bugs and bat bugs are two types of insects that appear almost identical to bed bugs and cause similar types of bites.
Per Orkin, swallow bugs prefer to feed on cliff swallows and usually dwell in bird nests, but they have been know to make their way inside homes when swallows migrate.
Bat bugs, as the name suggests, like to make a meal of bat blood. They live in both in tropical regions and in more temperate ones. These fellows will move into human homes when bats are scarce.
"It's important that a trained expert make the distinction between swallow and bat bugs versus bed bugs since managing mammal, rodent and insect nesting is vital to locating these pests and the source of the infestation," according to Terminix.
If you happen to live around poultry, there's an additional type of bug you need to worry about.
Do you live in a rural area or keep chickens of your own? Then you might also need to be aware of the signs of a Mexican chicken bug infestation.
According to Orkin, these critters are almost indistinguishable from common bed bugs. They usually like to feed on poultry and birds, but will munch on people if the chance arises.
Though formerly rare outside of agricultural settings, there has actually been a surge of Mexican chicken infestations in human dwellings like hotels, apartments, and college dorm rooms.
You should always contact professionals to deal with a suspected bed bug problem.
Though it can be tempting to save some cash by attempting to deal with a potential bed bug infestation on your own, you might just be allowing the problem to grow.
If you try to DIY an eradication solution, you run the risk of missing the source of the bugs and leaving your home exposed to repeat infestations or worsening pest damage. Leave the bug-busting to the professionals and don't run the risk of letting a minor bug problem turn into a serious infestation.
Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.