Pest Guide: Biting Insects


Bed Bugs

(Cimex lectularius)

The adult bed bug is oval and flat. They grow to only about a quarter of an inch long. Bed bugs lack wings, so you won`t see them flying around your bedroom. Under cover of darkness, they crawl in search of blood, preferably from a human. Bed bugs use a piercing, sucking proboscis to penetrate the skin of their host. Adults are brown, but appear reddish-brown when engorged with blood. For more information, contact us today.



Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. The most common species is the cat flea, which often feasts on cats, dogs and humans.

Human Lice

(Pediculus humanus)

One of the best known lice is Pediculus humanus - the human louse - which has two distinct races. The race capitis may be found in the hair on the head, and their eggs, stuck to hairs, are termed nits. These can be very difficult and time consuming to remove - this is where the term 'nit-picking' came from. The race corporis is found on the body. Body lice can carry diseases such as relapsing fever (caused by Borellia recurrentis) and typhus (Rickettsia prowazeki) although only if they feed on someone who already has the disease. Sucking lice on domestic animals can also spread disease. Louse-borne disease is particularly common in wartime, when soldiers are forced to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Trench fever (Rickettsia quintana) was especially widespread during World War I, and was probably a major factor in the final collapse of the Russian army. Of these two human lice, the head louse is more common, and sometimes there are outbreaks of head lice infestation in schools. Head lice can survive any amount of washing and combing, so they are not associated with lack of hygiene. Luckily, whilst head lice can be irritating, they do not carry disease.

Sucking Lice


Sucking lice have piercing mouthparts, which they use to suck the blood of their hosts - mostly mammals, including man. They hang on to hair with a single large claw at the end of their strong legs. Lice that feed exclusively on blood do not get a well-balanced diet, and make up for this by having bacteria in their gut that provide the additional nutrients.Nearly every mammal species can be infested by a sucking louse - even seals, whales and walruses have them! These 'marine lice' all belong to the family Echinophthiriidae, and they can exist for long periods under water by taking a layer of air down with them between their specially modified body hairs, or by breathing air trapped in the host's body hair.