The Lifecycle of the World’s Most Hated Bug: Bed Bug Stages

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While you can find bed bug infestations all over the country, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, bed bugs were originally introduced to North America only when colonists first started traveling here in the 1600s. Since that time though, bed bugs have thrived.

Bed bugs are part of a family of insects that are known as Cimicidae and all Cimicidae bugs feed exclusively on blood.

There are five molting stages for Cimex lectularius, which is the common bed bug. By knowing the bed bug stages, you’ll be better able to understand how bed bugs live, thrive, and change. This will help you with detecting them in your own home and knowing how to deal with them.

Interested in learning more? If so, then continue reading and we’ll walk you through the bed bug life cycle.

Feeding Behavior

Bed bugs spend most of their lives hiding together in crevices and cracks where they won’t be disturbed. However, they become active at night, typically after midnight and before 5 am. It’s during this time when a human host is usually in their deepest sleep.

Bed bugs will venture many yards in order to find a human host. They’re attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide that’s made by the host’s breaths.

When they’re not feeding, bed bugs like to aggregate near the bed of the host. However, when there’s a heavy infestation, there usually isn’t enough room for all of the bed bugs to fit.

After a bug finds a host, they use their mouthparts to check the skin and detect a place where they can interrupt the blood flow. A bed bug might try several places on the skin before they find a good space, which leads to multiple bites from the same bug.

After it’s satisfied with a spot, it will feed for several minutes. When it’s done, it will go back to hiding and will usually come back in the next three to seven days.

Mating Behavior

After feeding, the adult bed bugs will become interested in mating. During the reproductive process, the male literally stabs the female with a specialized organ. After her eggs are fertilized, a single female bed bug can create an infestation in a home all on her own, so long as she has access to food.

Egg Production

The number of eggs that are produced by a female is going to depend on her access to regular meals. The more meals she can eat, the more eggs she will likely produce.

The average adult bed bug lives for around one year. If she can feed every week, she’ll produce more eggs in a year than if she could only feed once a month.

After a single blood meal, a female bed bug can produce up to seven eggs per day for about ten days. In her whole life, a female bed bug can produce around 110 eggs.

A female can also lay an egg anywhere in a room. And when the room temperature is above 70° F, the majority of eggs will hatch in just a few days.

Nymph Development Time

The development time of a bed bug nymph will depend on the room temperature and the presence of a host. In ideal conditions, most nymphs will progress to the next stage within five days of ingesting a blood meal. If the newly molted instar can take a blood meal within one day of molting, it’s going to remain in that stage for one week before it molts again.

If the temperature is between 50° F and 60° F, then the bed bug might take a few more days to molt to the next life stage. However, if a nymph can’t access a host, it’s going to stay in that stage until it can find a blood meal. If it takes too long to find a host, it will die.

After a bed bug develops from an egg, it will take around 37 days to go through the five molting stages and reach reproductive adulthood. The first instars are especially vulnerable. If the egg is laid too far from the host, the first instar can quickly die of dehydration.

Adult Bed Bug Life Span

An adult bed bug that is well-fed can survive at room temperature between 100 and 300 days in a lab. Unfortunately, we can’t know exactly how long a bed bug can live in somebody’s home. However, it can be several months or longer.

With that said, conditions are not as ideal in human homes as they are in laboratories. There was once a belief that bed bugs could survive in the home for more than one year without eating, but this doesn’t appear to be true. At normal temperatures, it’s believed that bed bugs can’t survive for more than two or three months.

In fact, one of the reasons why bed bugs pack themselves together is to create a favorable climate.

When these bugs die, it’s likely due to dehydration as opposed to starvation. When living in an indoor environment, bed bugs can only hydrate by taking blood meals.

The Importance of Knowing About Bed Bug Stages

By knowing about the different bed bug stages, you’ll be able to better identify bed bugs and understand their feeding and mating behaviors.

In this article, you also learned that bed bugs love warm temperatures. And this is what makes thermal remediation so effective.

This process involves using heaters to attract the bed bugs out of their hiding places and then killing them. It’s an effective way to get rid of bed bugs without using heaters that are so high that they can damage your personal belongings.

Are you worried about a bed bug infestation in your home? If so, then contact us today and see what we can do for you!

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