How Long Bed Bugs Grow

Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

Bed Bugs

Identification, images, and how to prevent infestation

Identification

  • Colour Reddish brown, with abdomen darker as blood is digested
  • Size Adults are approximately 4 to 5 mm long, size of an apple seed
  • Description Bed bugs are an oval shape, they have a flattened body, two antennae and six legs

Quick Links

  • How to identify bed bugs?
  • What are some key signs of bed bugs?
  • What to do if traces of bed bugs are found?
  • How can I prevent bed bug infestation?
  • Habitat, Diet, and Behaviour
  • Commonly Asked Questions

How to identify bed bugs?

Bed bugs are an oval shape and are up to 4-5 mm long when fully grown. Adult bed bugs have a flattened body and their skin colour is either rust brown or a deeper red brown.

Due to the flattened body of a bed bug they can easily hide in small places such as baseboards, cracks in floors, under carpets, behind loose wallpaper, bed frames, sofas, behind picture frames and many other places which makes them very difficult to detect. They tend to stay together and large infestations will give off a sweet but unpleasant smell.

What are some key signs of bed bugs?

If you suspect bed bugs, or want to be proactive, look for live or dead bugs or the skins they can leave behind when they are molting. After feeding, bed bugs will regularly leave behind small spots of reddish-black fecal matter on your bedding, mattress or box springs. They will lay their eggs (1/32″ to 1/8″ in size) in dark crevices near feeding areas.

Bed bug bites can also go unnoticed, and are even often misdiagnosed, making detection that much more difficult. Discover more answers to bed bug questions here.

Bed bugs spread

Once established, bed bugs tend to stay put but can spread due to any of the following;

  • Being disturbed (i.e. disassembling furniture or incorrect pesticide application)
  • A food shortage (i.e. no host) may cause them to migrate to neighbouring rooms
  • A shortage of harbourage spaces may cause them to migrate to neighbouring rooms
  • Infested furniture moved down a hall, or passed on to others
  • Vacuum cleaners used for multiple rooms
  • Commercial laundry machines

What to do if traces of bed bugs are found?

Do not

  • Disturb the room further. Leaving the “scene” untouched will help Orkin Canada diagnose the problem.
  • Take any items out of the room. Doing so will only help the bed bugs spread.

Do

  • Stop using the room and “quarantine” it
  • If the room is occupied, work with management to move guests to a new room
  • Contact a professional pest control company immediately in order to inspect the infested room and/or pre-treat rooms to which any guests might be moved. In British Columbia you can only pre-treat when evidence of an infestation is found.

How can I prevent bed bug infestation?

Look for live or dead bugs or their skins, Check beds for red spots of fecal matter, Clean and vacuum bedrooms regularly, Protect mattresses and boxsprings with certified bed bug encasements, Use light coloured sheets to spot stains, Check all furniture near sleeping areas, Look around seams, crevices, and folds, Seal cracks in walls, trim, and bed frames.

Since bed bugs are such good hitchhikers and often hide in hard to reach areas the best way to truly rid yourself of bed bugs is often professional pest control. Orkin Canada uses specially trained bed bug dogs, to detect anywhere live bed bugs and their eggs are hiding – and uses customized control strategies to make sure they’re gone for good.

Habitat, Diet, and Behaviour

What is the lifecycle of a bed bug?

Bed bugs undergo gradual metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult). Nymphs are smaller versions of the adults and will go through several molts until fully grown.

Females lay 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime, 10 to 50 at a time, on rough surfaces. Eggs then hatch within 6 to 17 days, with adult bedbugs having the ability to survive over 1 year without feeding.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I have bed bugs?

Bed bugs are seeing a resurgence in Canada and even the cleanest of homes can fall victim to these painful pests. At night, bed bugs feed on sleeping humans, but by day, they hide in dark undisturbed areas like inside furniture, baseboards, floorboards, carpets, and even wallpaper.

Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide and warmth that humans emit, which makes them particularly drawn to multi-unit buildings with lots of turnover like hotels or rental apartments, where they are often brought in on luggage or used furniture.

Bed bugs do not cling to people but they are notorious hitch hikers and can hide in our belongings (i.e. suitcase, purse, laptop bags). From there they can be introduced into a home, hotel, office, hospital, or any other building as well as modes of transportation. Sanitation is not a factor in whether or not you get bed bugs.

They are known to travel more than six metres from hiding in order to feed, but generally hide within two metres of their host, in large infestations that give off a sweet but unpleasant smell.

Why are bed bugs back?

Bed bugs never really left. They are common in many nations around the world. We are seeing a resurgence in North America for several reasons including a reduced use of pesticides, the use of second hand furniture and increased international travel as bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers.

The combination of re-introduction, increased international travel and the fact that pest control professionals no longer use older pesticides (such as DDT, Chlordane and Lindane) means that bed bugs have been able to stage a resurgence and become a very serious pest in the 21st century. They have a unique ability to hide and due to their ability to spread, new inspection and control methods must be far more thorough and extensive than with many other pests.

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that live near their hosts. Since they feed on humans (their hosts) their habitats include houses, hotels, or any property that we frequent. All they require is a protected area in close proximity to a feeding source. Bed bugs bite people when they are sleeping usually on exposed skin.

When looking for a meal bed bugs can move very quickly to feed and then back into hiding after their meal. Bed bugs have been known to travel over 20 feet from hiding in order to feed but will generally hide within 3-6 feet of their host. Unless you know specifically how to look for bed bugs these pests can be easily overlooked.

How worried should I be about bed bugs?

You may find red spots of fecal matter on your bed after being bitten by bed bugs, but it can be maddeningly difficult to detect where the bugs are actually hiding.

Bed bugs multiply quickly, with females laying up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. In just six months, a few of these pests can turn into a full-on infestation of more than 13,000 bed bugs. Adults can also survive for a year without feeding, so even if you leave, they might not.

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HOW LONG DO BED BUGS LIVE?

If you’ve had to deal with bed bugs hitching a ride home on your pet or your luggage, you’ve probably asked yourself, "how long do bed bugs live?"

As far as insect life spans go, bed bugs crawl the earth for longer than most — tapping out around the 10-month marker, according to bedbugs.org. And while that 10-month window is true for most, some are thought to live up to a year.

A bed bug life cycle includes multiple stages. A female bed bug lays eggs in groups of one to 50 and they take anywhere from six to 17 days to hatch, according to bedbugs.org. By the time she dies, a female will have laid hundreds of eggs.

The eggs are small, about 1 millimeter in size, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One millimeter is around the size of a mustard seed.

With the right conditions and temperatures, a bed bug can go from an egg to its adult stage in approximately 37 days. Warmer climates promote faster bed bug reproduction and development.

Baby bed bugs are called nymphs. A nymph will go through five phases of growth before it becomes an adult, shedding its skin each time, according to the EPA. They start life at 1.5 millimeters (the thickness of a U.S. penny) and grow to about 4.5 millimeters (the size of a medium-to-large pearl).

Even in their nymph stages, bed bugs are ready to eat. They primarily feed off of people, but will also bite animals − including dogs, cats, rodents and chickens. A bed bug can last up to a year or longer without feeding if the temperatures are ideal.

Still, the average bed bug life cycle isn’t very long, but they do lead active lives, which includes aggressively mating. If you think you may have signs of bed bugs, contact a pest management professional immediately.

[Tech Talk] Aging Bed Bug Infestations: How Long Have They Been Here?

Answering questions is important to customer satisfaction when resolving any pest issue, but bed bug services often involve increased urgency and emotion. How many times have you answered questions such as, “Are these bed bugs?” “Where did they come from?” “How do you treat them?” “How can I keep from bringing them home?” or “Why does my spouse get bitten, but not me?” While the answers to some questions may be simple, others are more complicated or may not have definitive answers at all. Beyond that, some answers have serious implications.

One question is, “How long have these bugs been here?” Your answer can determine more than just peace of mind. It may be used to determine fault, assign responsibility for treatment, justify accusations of treatment failure, result in litigation and more. How can one determine the length of time that has passed since the bugs arrived? Is it even possible?

For large or long-time infestations, it becomes unrealistic to determine the age of the infestation by observation alone. Confounding variables such as multiple introductions, feeding frequency and treatment attempts enter into play. It is best to say they have been there for a long time (months or years), and leave it at that. However, the age of small infestations can be gauged fairly well for the first couple months, and that is likely sufficient in many cases. Examination of the evidence may provide the answer to the following: “Were the bugs present before the customer spent the night at the hotel?” “Did the technician overlook treating this harborage, or is it a new introduction?”

*For a theoretical population starting with five adults (2 males, 3 females), two eggs per female per day, no mortality, regular blood meals, and at room temperature (72°F).

The black fecal spots and stains bed bugs leave behind are well-known signs of infestation, but do they tell time? How much spotting does a bed bug produce from a blood meal? It may be tempting to guess at age by estimating the amount of fecal spotting. However, fecal material is more a measure of how much bugs have fed than how long they have been there. Bugs may not always get a full meal or feed regularly, or the evidence can be dispersed. Therefore, only generalities should be pulled from this evidence. Little spotting could mean little feeding or a short time of infestation.

A GOOD GUESS. At normal room temperatures (72°F) and with ample feeding opportunity, bed bug nymphs require about a week for development of each instar between molts. Each molt leaves behind exuviae, the “shed skin.” In small infestations, these exuviae can be used to estimate a timeline. This method is limited, but can be useful under the right circumstances. For example, if a fourth instar bug is found alone in a mattress tuft along with some fecal spotting and three graduated exuviae, a reasonable guess would be that it has been using that harborage for at least two to three weeks.

Eggs take about 10 days to hatch at 72°F, so if you find hatched eggs attached to furniture, they’ve been there for at least that long. Newer eggs can be collected, and upon hatching provide an estimation of when they were laid.

Often a great indicator of how long an infestation has been around is the number of adult bed bugs present. Generally it takes at least seven weeks for a bed bug to grow from an egg to an adult, so there should be no new adults from eggs during that period. Therefore, if many adult bugs are present one can reasonably assume that the infestation has been there for more than seven weeks. The assumption here is that the infestation started from only a few bugs and there have not been additional introductions during that time. For example, if an infestation starts with five bugs of any stages, there will still be no more than five adults seven weeks later (see figure above).

The bottom line is that while there isn’t a surefire way to determine the age of an infestation, you can determine some limits and perhaps answer the question enough to satisfy a customer. It requires careful inspection of the available evidence including fecal spotting, exuviae, eggs and adult bugs.

Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.

The author is the technical director and staff entomologist at Varment Guard Environmental Services/ProGuard Commercial Pest Solutions, Columbus, Ohio.

How do bed bugs multiply?

You should hate bed bugs because of two reasons: They disturb you and reproduce rapidly. So, how bed bugs reproduce and what can stop them multiplying?

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood. They feed only on blood and unfortunately, their main food source is human.

A bed bug has 3 life stages and its size varies from 1 to 6 mm depending on its stage. You can find more information about bed bugs stages in this post: bedbugdetected.com/bed-bug-life-stages

Physical features of bed bugs are below:

  • They are flat and oval-shaped
  • Half-winged (so little useless wings so, no wings at all)
  • Reddish brown colored (More reddish after recently fed)

What do bed bugs look like?

They are not microscopic creatures so, you can see them with naked eye. What you have to know about bed bugs firstly is they can’t fly or jump which means that if you see an insect flying or jumping, you can eliminate bed bug option easily.

Bed bug eggs

Here is a video showing bed bug eggs:

Bed bugs aren’t mammalians which means they multiply by laying. Bed bug eggs can be differentiated from other bug eggs with their shapes and appearances on the floor.

Bed bug eggs are yellow white, they stand together and glued to the surface, mostly in cracks. The most distinguishing feature of those eggs from the other bug eggs is “glue”.

Other places where bed bugs lay their eggs are:

  • Behind walls
  • Inside clothes
  • Mattress
  • Behind wall papers
  • Other places near to their food source

Beg bugs male/female ratio

This is important because reproducing activity of beg bugs depend on the number of females. After laying their eggs, the number of female and male eggs hatching is almost the same: 1:1 ratio.

Success hatching ratio of a female is usually more than 95 percent.

How fast bed bugs spread?

Laying ability of a female adult bed bug depends on how much it feeds. So, more blood they can have, more eggs they will produce.

After a female bed bugs feeds enough once, she will produce 1 to 7 eggs per a day for next 10 days.

Eggs will hatch in 7 to 10 days if the air condition is suitable for them, otherwise hatching time can take up to 30 days.

So, a female bed bug can hatch 100 to 500 eggs in her lifetime which means they will reproduce rapidly and if no action is taken, the invasion will be inevitable.

How fast bed bugs grow?

After hatching, new born bed bug will have 2 more life stages. First will be nymph and this stage has 5 instars in it.

They will need a month in average to become an adult which has a body size more than 5 mm.

How long bed bugs survive without feeding

The main reason what makes bag bugs invasive is their resistance to hunger. They can survive without feeding at least for months, nevertheless it was observed that they can live without feeding for more than a year in some cases.

Ideal temperature for bed bugs

Ideal environment for bed bugs is where the temperature is between 65° and 85°. So, their activity will reduce below 65° and above 85°.

What prevents bed bugs from reproducing?

Under these conditions, their reproducing speed gets slower or ends:

  • If they can’t feed enough
  • If they are not close to their food sources
  • If the environment temperature is not between 65° and 85°.

Conclusion

What you must know about bed bugs reproduce are:

  • They usually start mating after 1 month they hatched.
  • They multiply by laying.
  • Their eggs are glued and in group.
  • Hatching success for the eggs is more than 95 percent.
  • An adult female can lay 100 to 500 eggs during her lifetime.
  • They are more reproductive during ideal condition: When the feed enough and it’s 65° and 85° around.
  • If no action is taken on time, you must face a bed bug invasion.

For more information about bed bugs, you can check these posts:

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