bed bug

Bed bug life cycle

Knowing what to look for is the first step in identifying and controlling bed bugs; this is the real gist of the article. While being able to identify a bed bug life cycle is important, it is equally important to be able to identify bed bugs altogether. Egg shape, nymph, or adult, bed bugs are a problem once they take hold, and the fact that they have an identifiable life cycle will help with treatment and remediation.

Bed bug facts:

  • They feed on humans and animals and use their blood to grow and reproduce.
  • They do not transmit disease to people, but they do bite.
  • They prefer to be close to where people sleep, rest or sit for long periods of time.
  • They are most active at night and prefer to hide during the day.
  • All ages are found in a reproducing population.

Bed bug appearance - what do they look like?

Adult bed bugs are oval, flattened, brown and wingless insects approximately 1/4″ to 3/8″ long (5-9 mm); about the size of an apple seed. Upon feeding on blood, its color changes from brown to purplish-red and it becomes larger.

Bed bug life cycle

A bed bug’s life begins with an egg, about the size of a grain of salt, oval in shape and cloudy white in color. To the naked eye, bed bug eggs are difficult to see and look like grains of sand from a distance.

Female bed bugs product one to five eggs at a time. A single female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs within its lifetime. Eggs are often placed within tight cracks or crevices, and they glue their eggs to the surface using a sticky secretion. Within two weeks, eggs hatch and bed bugs begin to feed.

Once the bed bug hatches from the egg, it is called a nymph. These young bed bugs pass through five molts (a.k.a instars) before reaching maturity. In order to move between instar phases, the bed bug must feed at least once and shed their exoskeleton. Each instar phase produces a slightly larger bed bug until it grows into an adult.

Upon reaching maturity, the 5th instar, a bed bug will take one more feeding (blood) and molt into a full grown bed bug. It is at this time the bed bug becomes sexually active and starts reproducing. Adult bed bugs will feed every 3-7 days. In warmer climates, bed bugs will eat approximately every 2.5 days. They may live for 3 to 10 months as adults. Under the right conditions, there can be three or more generations of bed bugs per year.

How to treat your home for bed bugs?

Regardless of their size or reproductive stage, bed bugs are a real problem and need to be dealt with right away. In this case, bring the heat! Heat treatment is the most effective bed bug treatment strategy. Bed bugs have a thermal death point, and when exposed to temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period, the entire population of bed bugs at all life stages (including eggs) are eliminated. 

Sigma Pest Control are your licensed and trained heat treatment experts. Our Bed Bug Control program is your answer to a bed bug free home. Call today for a FREE inspection and consultation – (540) 94-SIGMA.

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