Bedbugs, known scientifically as Cimex lectularius
and C. hemipterus
(Cimicidae) are small wingless insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals, which is why they are such a problem for humans for they are ideal hosts. Chickens are also ideal hosts, and this is why bed bugs can become a problem in chicken coops.
Bedbugs do not remain permanently on their host, and similar to the red poultry mite, will hide in cracks and crevices of chicken coops and nestboxes during the daytime hours, waiting until night to feed on the blood of their hosts.
Bedbugs can cause chickens a great deal of stress as well as potential allergic reactions and blood loss. Heavy infestations can cause chickens to develop anemia, and ultimately increased morbidity and mortality rates, especially in younger birds. In addition, bedbugs are known to harbor over 40 different infectious pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa.
What bedbugs look like
Adult C. lectularius
and C. hemipterus
are reddish-brown, flat, wingless, oval-shaped insects that resemble the appearance of confetti (typically being between 5-7 mm in length). After consuming blood from their host, the bedbug changes and appears more balloon-like and elongated. Young C. lectularius
and C. hemipterus
are much smaller than adults, and are a different color--they have a white-yellowish or translucent appearance and are barely visible to the naked eye.
Bedbugs are mainly nocturnal, hiding during the day in cracks and crevices and feeding on the chickens at night. They feed by piercing the chicken's skin with their beak-like mouthparts, which allow them to withdraw blood. They will generally feed for 5 to 10 minutes, after which they return to their hiding spot to digest their meal. Bedbugs will usually feed on chickens every 3 to 7 days.
Female bedbugs lay their eggs in the crevices, where they hatch in 4 to 12 days. One female bedbug can lay up to 540 eggs in her lifetime. Under the right conditions, bed bug populations can eventually double every 16 days. When disturbed, Bedbugs let off a distinct, offensive odor similar to what stink bugs let off; this odor is the result of the oily secretion produced by special glands. Bed bugs can survive and remain active at temperatures as low as 7°C (46°F), but they die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F).
Bedbugs Vs Red Poultry Mites Vs Sticktight Fleas
|Bedbug||Red poultry mite||Sticktight Flea|
|Adult Appearance|| || || |
|Size||4-12 mm (0.15-0.47 in)||1-1.5 mm (0.04-0.06 in)||1.5-4 mm (0.06-0.16 in)|
|Color||Reddish brown||Gray to black||Dark brown|
|Body type||Oval and flat||Oval||Flat|
|Speed||Quick-moving||Slow moving||Slow moving|
|Visible to the naked eye||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Where they are found||Hide in crevices, cracks, behind floorboards, in walls, and behind wall outlets during the day, feed on chickens at night||Hide in crevices and cracks during the day, feed on chickens at night||Bare skin on the head - comb, wattles, near eyes|
|Transmission||Contaminated equipment||Wild birds, rodents, wildlife, dogs, cats, humans, contaminated equipment||Turkeys, wildlife, wild birds, dogs, cats, horses, pigs, people, soil, litter|
|Where eggs are laid||Tiny, microscopic whitish, sticky eggs that adhere to surfaces in secluded areas||Lays their eggs in their hiding spots||Lay their eggs around the eyes anad wattles of chickens, causing nodules. Once the flea larvae hatch, they drop off the chicken to live in the soil for 2 weeks.|
|Average Life cycle||4 weeks||2 weeks||1-2 months|
|How you can tell||Look around the premises for the presence of bugs||Look for them at night on the birds ||Visible during the daytime, found in clusters on unfeathered areas, such as the bird's eyes, comb, and wattles.|
|Temperature||Temperate regions||Warm weather||Warm and humid weather|
|Clinical signs||Excessive feather loss, vent irritation, lesions on breasts and legs, anemia, reduced egg production||Restlessness at night, dermatitis, anemia, may cause chickens to alter where they roost at night.||dark brown spots face, anemia, restlessness, swollen eyelids, crusted lesions, ulcerations, blindness|
Bed bugs are difficult to control, especially while chickens are on the farm. The problem is that beg bugs have developed a resistance to insecticides, and therefore they no longer work. Another problem is that some of the products used to control bed bugs require high levels of the product to be used, which is harmful to the birds. Prevention is the best method.