Bed Bug Life Cycle:
Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long, reddish-brown with oval, flattened bodies. They feed solely on the blood of mammals. Immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble adults but are much smaller and lighter in color. They don’t fly or jump but can crawl rapidly on various surfaces.
Female bed bugs lay their eggs in secluded areas. They lay up to five eggs a day and about 500 eggs over a lifetime. When first laid, the eggs are sticky and adhere to the surface they touch. The very small, whitish eggs are very difficult to see without magnification, but in clusters are visible.
Newly hatched nymphs are approximately the size of a pinhead. They molt (shed their skin) five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed for each successive molt. An adult can live for up to 5 months. Under ideal development conditions (70 – 90° F and regular blood meals), these insects can complete development in a month, and produce three or more generations per year. Cool temperatures and limited blood meals inhibit development time.
A well-fed bedbug can live anywhere from four to six months, while a dormant one might live without feeding for up to 18 months. Being very resilient, nymphs can survive months without feeding. The adults can survive for up to 18 months without a blood meal.
The physical attributes of these insects enable them to fit into the tiny cracks and crevices, behind picture frames, furniture, and headboards. They do not nest like other insects but congregate in habitual hiding and feeding locations.
How to Identify Bedbugs:
Bed Bug Color:
Unfed adult bed bugs are mahogany to rusty brown color. Engorged bed bugs are red-brown color after a blood meal. Nymphs (baby bed bugs) are nearly colorless when they first hatch and become brownish as they mature, after a blood meal.
Count of Legs:
Bed Bug Shape:
Unfed bed bugs are flat and broad-oval. Fed bed bugs become swollen and more elongated.
Bed Bug Size:
Adult bed bugs can reach a size of about 1/4 inch long. Nymphs range from 1.3 mm to 4-5 mm.
Bed Bug Life Cycle:
Bed bug biology naturally promotes infestation. Female bed bugs lay one to five eggs per day or an average of 540 eggs in a lifetime. They typically lay their eggs in cracks or rough surfaces. Bed bug nymphs grow to full adulthood in about 21 days and go through five stages of development before they reach maturity. A bed bug will molt once during each stage of development, though a blood meal is required for a molt. An adult bed bug can live for several months without a blood meal.
Since bed bugs are nocturnal (active at night), you may not realize the source of the annoying, itching sores on your torso and other portions of your body. Bed bugs are attracted by both warmth and carbon dioxide, which is what we exhale in breathing. The bugs climb up onto your skin and pierce you with two hollow tubes, one of which injects anti-coagulants and anesthetics. The other tube is used to withdraw the blood, feeding for about five minutes or until engorged, then return to their hiding places. They will feed every 5 to 10 days.
There can be a cluster of bites instead of singular ones, which is caused by disturbing the bugs while they feed, causing them to detach and return to feed momentarily. The bites can be found anywhere, with exposed bits of skin being preferred, making the face, arms, and legs a target. The bites cannot be felt at first, but as the anesthetics wear off and the skin begins to react, the bites can make themselves felt minutes, or even hours after the bedbugs have returned to hiding places. On some individuals, bites may not be visible for up to two weeks, or not at all.
How Infestations Originate:
These bugs are usually transported on luggage, clothing, beds, and furniture (especially upholstered items). Outbreaks can often be traced to international travel from countries where the bugs are common, such as Asia, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, or Central/South America. A pregnant female, for self-preservation, will leave the bed and hide in anything away from the bed (clothing, furniture, shoes, book bags, curtains, pillows, etc), and is often transported in a new location that way.
Don’t accept used mattresses or box springs. Inspect used furniture. Continually launder bedding and clothing. Eliminate clutter, especially in the bedrooms. Vacuum often, especially the cracks and crevices where the wall meets the floor, bed frames, and carpets in bedrooms. Cover mattresses and box springs with bedbug-proof covers, as a preventative. Be cautious of allowing overnight guests with visible, numerous bite marks.
When traveling, do not remain in a room where bed bugs or evidence of them has been found. Inspect mattress and box spring for telltale blood meal droppings or actual insects on seams. Don’t unpack the suitcase. Don’t set things on the floor near or under the bed. On returning, don’t bring luggage into the house. Store clothing in sealed garbage bags until it can be laundered or dry-cleaned. Inspect seams of luggage with a strong flashlight for bed bugs. Store empty luggage in sealed garbage bags.
If visiting known bed bug-infested locations, don’t place items (purse, book bags, etc) on the floor near couches (secondary infestation location) or chairs, keep on lap or place on the table. Sit in non-upholstered chairs. Don’t set coats or any clothing on upholstered furniture. Keep in hand, set on a table. Don’t accept rides (in vehicles) from occupants.
Where to Find Bed Bugs: