Bed bugs, to the untrained eye, look like various other kinds of bugs.
It’s important to understand bed bug stages to be able to properly identify the type of bug you’re dealing with.
Being able to recognize eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs is the first step to eradicating these pests.
Read on for information about the bed bug life cycle.
Bed Bug Eggs
The first stage of the life cycle of a bed bug begins, like most insects, with an egg.
But where does the egg come from, you ask? Well, bed bugs will only mate after they feed on blood. Without food, they don’t mate.
After a blood meal, they head back to their colony and begin mating. Like a lot of mating in the animal kingdom, the mating rituals of bed bugs are violent.
Unlike other species, one sexual encounter is enough to fertilize many, many eggs.
After coupling, the female will lay eggs. She will lay one to five eggs each day. A bed bug egg is milky or pearl white and about the size of a grain of rice.
The female might lay her eggs on their own or in little clusters. She prefers to lay eggs in small cracks or crevices for protection.
Once a bed bug egg is five days old, it is possible to see an “eye spot” on the egg. This tells you that the egg is very close to hatching.
Just a mere six to nine days after being laid, the eggs will hatch. These bed bug babies are called nymphs.
Nymphs – Young Bed Bug Stage
After hatching, a nymph must find a host in order to get blood. Finding food is vital for this baby bed bug to grow into the next bed bug stages.
These baby bed bugs can only go up to 20 days without a meal. Otherwise, they die of dehydration.
The young nymph stage of a bed bud’s life is very vulnerable. At just 1.5mm in size, it is unable to travel as far as older nymphs can in order to find a host.
If the nymph successfully finds a host, then the blood it eats helps the young bed bug shed its exoskeleton. Young nymphs, once they have had their first blood meal, can survive without a blood meal for up to several months. Older nymphs can survive a year between meals.
When looking for bed bugs, eggs, and molted skins are often the most visible signs. if not recently fed, nymphs can be almost impossible to spot because of their coloring and size.
Young bed bugs go through five sets of molts before reaching adulthood. They must feed in order to complete a molting stage.
These young bed bugs need to feed at least once before each molt, although they might feed as often as once a day.
Though nymphs look similar to their adult counterparts, they are smaller and not yet able to mate.
You can tell the difference between an adult and a nymph because of their color. Nymphs are yellowish-white while older nymphs and adults are red-brown.
Nymphs become adults within 5 weeks if they are able to find a host and if they are kept at room temperature.
Adult Bed Bugs
After the fifth molt, a nymph becomes a full-grown adult bed bug. This is the last stage of the bed bug life cycle.
Adult bed bugs are about 5mm in size or the size of an apple seed.
They are long and brown with a flat, oval-shaped body. If they are recently fed, their bodies are reddish-brown and more balloon-like.
Adult bed bugs also have a distinctive smell. It is a musty, sweet odor that is produced through glands that are found on the lower half of their bodies.
Once they reach adulthood, bed bugs are ready to mate.
It’s hard for researchers to pinpoint how long bed bugs live. There are many variables like temperature and access to food. They commonly live between 4-6 months, yet adults can live up to a year in cool temperatures without food.
In labs with optimal temperatures, they live between 99-300 days. But in your home, with so many variables, the lifespan can be different.
The Mating Process
We have already discussed the mating process under the bed bug egg section. Now let’s look at mating in terms of adult bed bugs.
Mating is traumatic for females. They can easily become injured in the process. Their wounds can also become infected and reduce her lifespan.
That’s why female bed bugs avoid excessive mating if they can. Once they have mated, female bed bugs prefer to move to a spot where they can be undisturbed.
Ideally, this spot is a safe place to lay eggs and also has easy access to a host for food supply.
A female that has had her eggs fertilized will lay 1-7 eggs a day after each blood meal. Without blood, she can’t lay her fertilized eggs.
She will eventually run out of sperm. At this point, she will have to mate again to continue egg production.
Use the Bed Bug Life Cycle to Your Advantage
Now that you understand the bed bug life cycle, you can use it to your advantage to eradicate your home of these pesky bugs.
For starters, you can now identify each of the bed bug stages. As soon as you spot signs of bed bugs, it’s time to act.
Contact us to get rid of bed bugs for good.