Life Cycle of Bed Bugs | An Examination of Bed Bugs
While millions of individuals throughout the United States are well-aware of the pain, frustration and aggravation bed bugs can cause, few actually understand the biology of these ancient creatures. An affliction as old as recorded history, bed bug infestations can find their way into even the most affluent of homes and establishments. In order to truly understand these persistent parasites, it's important to fully grasp its life cycle. By grasping the biology of bed bugs, you'll not only hold a greater understanding of these creatures, but also a better knowledge of how to effectively eradicate these insects.
Bed Bug Appearance | Identifying the Creatures
Measuring anywhere from 5 to 7 millimeters in length, which is roughly the same size as a typical apple seed. In fact, many bed bug sufferers first identify the source of their bites and itch by the scattered appearance of seed-sized insects within their bed or furniture. Before delving into the life cycle of bed bugs, let's take a moment to fully comprehend its physical characteristics. By knowing what these insects look like, identifying an unknown infestation is easier. More than likely, you'll notice adult bed bugs before identifying their younger offspring, which are referred to as nymphs.
An adult bed bug is generally identified as:
- If the bugs haven't recently fed, their bodies will be flat and carry an oval-shape. These insects are generally longer than they are wide, and if they aren't fed, will feature a brownish color.
- If the bed bugs have recently fed, their body shape will feature a more balloon-like appearance that's slightly more elongated than normal. Its color will change from brown to red, as it's filled with your blood.
- The appearance of a genuine bed bug is easily identified as it features three distinct "segments," which include: a four-part antenna, unusable wings and short hairs that feature a slight golden color.
- An adult bed bug generally features a specific odor, which is commonly described as a "musty-sweetish" smell, which is due to a chemical released from its glands located on the lower portions of its body.
- After a bed bug has eaten, they deposit spots of fecal matter throughout their resting areas, such as along mattress seams or in the corners of rooms.
Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are characterized by:
- Being much smaller than adult bed bugs, younger bed bugs typically measure 1.6 millimeters long.
- Unlike its adult form, nymphs are colorless/transparent; however, when these tiny creatures have fed, its color will change to a reddish-hue.
- As nymphs grow into their adult form, they shed their outer shells. Because of this, those suffering from an infestation will likely uncover empty shells throughout the most highly infested portions of their home, such as in bedrooms and living rooms.
Bed Bug Life Cycle | An Overview of a Bed Bug Life
Before delving into the specific life cycle of a bed bug, it's important to understand the basics of these creatures. Bed bugs are primarily active at night, which is when they come out of their nesting areas to feed upon the blood of mammals; specifically, human blood. After mating, female bed bugs can lay anywhere from 200 to 500 eggs throughout its lifetime. These eggs, measuring 1/16th of an itch, are typically found in creaces and crevices of furniture, its eggs generally hatch after 10 days.
Once the eggs hatch, the newly formed nymphs will actively seek out a blood meal. Upon regular feedings, immature nymphs will go through five molting phases, in which they'll shed its exoskeleton, before reaching adulthood. Before a nymph is able to molt, it must feed at least one time prior to each growth phase. Unfortunately, nymphs can live for several months without a blood meal. Moreover, adult bed bugs can live up to one year without a blood meal. Under typical scenarios - with regular feedings - adult bed bugs can live up to 11 months.
The Life Cycle of a Bed Bug | Lifespan at a Glance
The following six cycles are the basic breakdown of an average bed bug lifespan. Although there are several variables that can affect this cycle, the majority of bed bugs will experience the following:
Initial Cycle | Eggs - a bed bug egg will measure roughly 1 millimeter in length and will hatch after 10 days.
1st Stage Nymph | Immediately upon hatching, newly hatched bed bugs will measure 1.5 millimeters. In order to progress to the following stage, it must feed on blood.
2nd Stage Nymph | After molting, the nymph will measure an average of 2 millimeters in length.
3rd Stage Nymph | Undergoing another molting phase, the nymph will slightly grow to 2.5 millimeters.
4th Stage Nymph | During this fourth phase, the nymph grows to 3 millimeters.
5th Stage Nymph | This is the final phase of the nymph life cycle, the average bed bug will grow to 4.5 millimeters.
Adult Phase | After one final molting phase, the nymph turns into an adult measuring anywhere from 5 to 7 millimeters. With regular feedings, an adult bed bug can live up to 11 months.
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