The Bed Bug Life Cycle
There are three distinct stages of the bed bug life cycle. After bed bug eggs hatch, they progress through a five-step nymph stage before reaching the adult state. Bed bug eggs hatch in 12-14 days. Immediately after hatching, and in between each nymphal stage, they need a blood meal. After each nymphal stage, the adolescent bed bugs will shed their exoskeleton. Once they reach maturity adult bed bugs continue to feed and produce eggs, perpetuating the cycle.
Under the right conditions, moving from the egg state to a breeding adult can take as few as four to five weeks. The pivotal component is the presence of food. Adults and nymphs spend anywhere from 3-12 minutes on each blood meal.
Under normal conditions, adults can live 6-12 months. During that time, the females can lay 1-3 eggs each day. That can add up to over 200 eggs in her lifetime. Severe infestations are often the result of a single female.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Wondering how to know if you have bed bugs? You need to be familiar with each stage of the bed bug life cycle. There are a few distinguishing features that can help you identify whether you’re dealing with bed bugs or not.
Bed Bug Eggs
You can spot bed bug eggs with your naked eye—if you know where to look. These eggs have a pearl-white color and are about the size of a tiny pinhead. At five days old, you might also notice a dark eye spot, kind of like a freckle.
Bed Bug Nymphs
As bed bugs move through the nymph stages, they get bigger and darker. They start out as a first-stage nymph looking sesame-seed-color and translucent. Their bodies become more brown and round in the later stages.
Adult Bed Bugs
When full-grown, bed bugs are about 5 mm long and have an oval shape. You might say they look like a small, flat apple seed. If they’ve eaten recently, they’ll look round, with a reddish hue. They can also have a musty odor.
A professional who knows how to get rid of bed bugs will be able to attack all of these stages. You can’t just go after the bed bugs you see. You need to kill bed bugs wherever they’re hiding, and while they’re in their egg state, too.
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