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the web of life in southern Africa

Cimex lectularius (Bedbug)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Paraneoptera > Condylognatha > Hemiptera (bugs) > Heteroptera > Cimicomorpha > Cimicoidea > Family: Cimicidae

Bedbugs hide in crevices in and near your bed by day and come out at night to suck blood. Despite being quite large (c 1 cm long), they often go undetected and large populations can build up in your bedroom before you find out what has been biting you. Bedbugs get into bedrooms by being carried there in crevices of secondhand furniture and pictures or in luggage infected in a bedbug-infested accommodation you stayed in previously.

To get rid of bedbugs:

  • remove mattress from bed and spray contact insecticide ('surface spray') in all nooks and crannies. If your spring mattress has holes in it, seriously consider buying a new mattress.
  • spray contact insecticide round legs of bed to prevent bugs crawling on to bed;
  • spray crevices in furniture and pictures near the bed if they are suspected to contain bedbugs; and
  • fumigate the room with e.g. Doom fogger.



  • Stutt, A.D. & Siva-Jothy, M.T. 2001. Traumatic insemination and sexual conflict in the bed bug Cimex lectularius. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 98: 5683-5687.

Text by Hamish Robertson