How Long Before Bed Bugs Reproduce
Bed Bug Life Cycle
Bed bugs are nocturnal, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals. These wingless insects have dorsoventrally flattened bodies that allow them to hide in areas such as floor cracks, carpets, beds and upholstered furniture.
A bed bug’s life begins with an egg, grain like and milky white in color. Female bed bugs lay between one and five eggs each day and may lie up to 500 eggs within one lifetime. Eggs are laid singly or in clusters and are placed within tight cracks or crevices. The egg is approximately 1 mm in length and is comparable in size to two grains of salt. Within two weeks, eggs hatch and immature bed bugs begin immediately to feed.
These young bed bugs, or nymphs, pass through five molts before reaching maturity. Although nymphs appear similar to adults, they are smaller in size and are not yet sexually mature. Young nymphs are also yellow-white in color, while older nymphs and adults are reddish-brown. In order to complete a molting stage, each nymph requires a blood meal. At room temperature, nymphs molt and become adults within five weeks.
Upon reaching maturity, bed bug adults often make weekly feedings.
Adult Bed Bug
How Long Do They Live?
The life span of a bed bug most commonly ranges from four to six months. However, some bed bugs may live up to a year under cool conditions and with no food.
Bed Bug Control
Cimex lectularius L.
Learn what Bed Bugs look like, and how to detect if you have a Bed Bug Infestation.
Find out how Bed Bugs infiltrate your home and where they are attracted to.
Learn about Bed Bug bites. their feces and how they can impact your health.
Learn how Orkin handles Bed Bugs, homeopathic cures and the cost of Bed Bug extermination services.
You may not realize that you have been bitten. Bite reactions vary from no reaction to mild red spots to severe rash or hives.
The return of the bed bug
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) were almost completely removed from North America due to mass treatments with highly toxic insecticides that are no longer in use.
Frequent travel, improved treatment methods that target other insects without affecting bed bugs, and a lack of public awareness has led to a rise in the spread of bed bugs.
Identifying bed bugs
Contact an expert to help identify any suspected bed bug specimens.
The "Let’s Beat the Bed Bug" campaign at the University of Minnesota found that 76 percent of samples submitted for identification are not bed bugs.
- Adult bed bugs are oval, flattened, brown and wingless insects approximately 1/4" to 3/8" long (5-9 mm). They are similar in appearance to a wood tick.
- After the bug has taken a blood meal its color changes from brown to purplish-red and it becomes larger and more cigar-shaped.
- Young bed bugs resemble the adult in shape but are much smaller, 1/16" (1.6 mm), when they first hatch. They are nearly colorless except after feeding.
After mating, females lay white, oval eggs (1/16" long) into cracks and crevices.
Bed bugs need to feed at least once before each molt, although they could feed as often as once a day.
Young nymphs can survive without a blood meal for days up to several months. Older nymphs and adults can survive longer without a blood meal up to a year under favorable conditions.
Bed bugs are also found in schools, retail facilities, office buildings, libraries and other public areas.
Signs that you have bed bugs
Look where you sleep
Bed bugs typically group together in out-of-the-way areas. But some bed bugs will live by themselves, away from the rest of an infestation. The best way to check for an infestation is to look for bed bugs where you sleep or rest.
In bedrooms, look particularly on and around:
- boxsprings, mattresses, bed frames, tufts, folds and buttons on mattresses
- furniture such as desks and chairs
- behind wallpaper, clocks and pictures
- cracks in wood floors and under the edge of carpet
Be careful when you travel
The greatest chance of finding bed bugs is while you are traveling. It is a good habit to check your room whenever on vacation.
Check your luggage where you typically set it down when you enter your home and where you store it after travelling.
While bed bugs are most commonly found in bedrooms, infestations can occur in other rooms including bathrooms, living rooms and laundry rooms.
Look for spots or smears
Bed bugs will sometimes deposit fecal spots (digested blood) while they are feeding. These are seen as dark (dark reddish or brownish) spots or smears found on bed sheets, pillowcases and mattresses, or in nearby areas.
- Dark blood spots on sheets and bedding may indicate bed bug feeding.
- In severe infestations, bed bugs may be more noticeable.
- A combination of bugs, cast skins (empty shells of bugs as they grow from one stage to the next) and fecal spots will be very obvious when closely seen.
These insects are small (1/16" to 1/4") and very flat, so they can move into very tight corners and cracks. They have been found under picture frames between the glass and the frame.
Bed bugs can be found behind electrical outlets and other wall plates.
- Inspect all areas closely and, if in doubt, contact a pest control service.
- If you find a bed bug stop inspection and begin control activity.
- Bed bugs will move from their hiding places once disturbed. All further inspections should be accompanied by control measures.
How to avoid bringing bed bugs into your home
Traveling and bed bugs
Inspect your personal items before packing and when you unpack
You can only confirm that bed bugs are present by carefully inspecting each item. Pay attention to cracks, crevices, seams and folds of material.
If you find bugs, then you have to be careful in containing the infestation.
Bed bugs do not travel on people
Bed bugs may hitch a ride on clothing, but they are not like lice and will not travel directly on a person.
If you are concerned about bed bugs on clothing remove suspect articles and put them into a plastic bag.
- Remove clothing in a place with a non-carpeted floor so bed bugs will have to travel before finding a hiding spot.
- A wet cloth wiped over the floor will help contain any bed bugs that try to escape.
Tips for reducing the risk of bringing home bed bugs
If you think there might be bedbugs on your items seal everything in plastic bags until they can be laundered, washed by hand, heated or frozen.
There is no need to throw away luggage and clothing after discovering an infestation.
Before leaving the location, sort anything that can be washed and place in plastic bags.
- Separate the laundry as you would if you were normally laundering items.
- This will prevent escaping bed bugs as you try to sort the laundry at home.
Items that cannot be washed may be heated or frozen.
- A two-hour core exposure at 120°F (45°C) is considered a minimum target temperature for heat treatments.
- For freezing, a minimum of 23°F (-5°C) must be maintained for at least 5 days.
- The exposure time can be reduced if the articles are flash frozen at a temperature of -15°F (-26°C), which would freeze the eggs instantly.
- Most household freezers will have temperatures between 30°F and 20°F.
- A 2-week freeze time is recommended if you are uncertain of the freezer temperatures.
If you heat or freeze items, these conditions must reach the core of the articles being treated.
Bed bugs on used furniture
Used furniture is another potential source of bed bugs.
- Do not pick up beds and furniture that have been left by the curb for disposal or behind places of business.
- Bed bug infestations can be found on tables, drawers and even electronics if these items were located in a bedroom or another place that was infested.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Hire a professional exterminator
We recommend that you seek assistance from a professional pest control company.
- An exterminator uses specialty equipment to move furniture, take it apart and control the infestation.
- They perform careful inspections along with non-chemical controls (heat treatments, vacuuming and steam treatments) and insecticide treatments.
- The insecticides used are commercial products requiring special equipment and training.
- Pest control services use heat treatment (118°F maintained for at least 70 minutes) in target areas.
- All stages of bed bugs are killed when this is done properly.
- Heat treatment does not prevent bed bugs from coming back into a home and reinfesting it.
- Sometimes furniture is removed and heat treated in a container. But, it is not necessary to move or throw away your furniture or belongings, especially from an apartment or condominium.
It is important to cooperate with a pest control service.
To find a professional belonging to the National Pest Management Association, go to the Pest World website and type in your zip code in the search box under "Find a Professional."
What you can do to help control an infestation
When working with a pest management company there are some additional things you might have to do to help get rid of bed bugs.
You can use your washing machine and dryer to kill bed bugs infesting clothes and other washable items.
- Clothes laundered in hot water and/or dried in temperatures hotter than 122°F for 20 minutes will kill all stages of bed bugs.
- This is typically the medium-high setting. If you are not sure what temperature your drier can reach, ask a professional to test it for you.
- You can also heat curtains and other fabrics, rugs, shoes, backpacks, stuffed animals, toys and similar objects by drying them at medium-high for about 30 minutes for a full load.
Cold temperatures can kill bed bugs if they are exposed to it long enough. All stages of bed bugs will be killed on objects left in a freezer at 0°F for 3 days.
- Putting infested furniture outdoors during winter may kill some bed bugs.
- Outdoor freezing temperatures will not always kill all of the bed bugs infesting an object. But, you can use the cold treatment to disable bed bugs until you decide what to do with the object.
An encasement is a fabric covering that looks like a very large sack with a zipper and that completely fits around a mattress or box spring.
They are useful when you want to protect a mattress you know is free of bed bugs (it has been heat treated or you have purchased a new mattress).
- You can also use encasements on infested mattresses and box springs to trap the bed bugs inside them; you can keep using your bed as long as the encasements are not ripped or torn.
- Buy encasements (from professional pest control services) that are specifically designed for protecting against bed bugs.
Bed bug interceptors
Bed bug interceptors are small plastic trays with an inner and outer ring. You can place them under the bed legs.
Bed bugs that try to climb up from the floor to the bed become trapped in the outer well. Any bed bugs that try to climb down will become trapped in the center well.
- Bed bug interceptors not only help to reduce the number of bed bugs that can reach the bed but also help determine whether bed bugs are present.
- You can buy bed bug interceptors online, from pest management companies, or from retail stores.
- Do not try to treat bed bugs yourself. The insecticides available in over-the-counter products are not effective in controlling bed bugs.
- Bug bombs (total release foggers) are not effective when treating bed bugs.
- These products throw insecticide into the air and very little product comes in contact with bed bugs hiding in cracks and behind and under objects.
- Bug bombs are potentially flammable if used incorrectly. It is easy for people to misuse or overuse bug bombs, and can result in unnecessary pesticide exposure.
CAUTION:We strongly discourage you from trying to treat bed bugs yourself. But, if you decide to use a pesticide, it is very important to carefully read and understand the label before using and to follow all label directions. The product you use should be labeled for bed bugs.
Everything you need to know about bedbugs
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Bedbugs are small, wingless insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Humans are the preferred hosts for the two main species.
There are two species of bedbugs that are known to feed on human blood. They are known scientifically asCimex lectulariusandCimex hemipterus. They have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians from 3,500 years ago.
Over millions of years, bedbugs have evolved as nest parasites, inhabiting the nests of birds and the roosts of bats. Some of them have learned to adapt to the human environment.
Newborn bedbugs, called hatchlings or nymphs, are tiny but visible and about the size of a poppy seed. Adults grow to about 0.25 inches long with an oval and flattened shape when they are not feeding. After feeding, they can double in size. Nymphs, eggs, and adults are visible to the naked eye.
They are called bedbugs because of their preferred habitat in human homes: Sofas, bed mattresses, clothing, and other soft furnishings. They also prefer the dark.
Bedbugs are seen as a growing problem within all types of dwellings, including private homes, dormitories, cruise ships, army barracks, and shelters.
When seen close up, their color may range from a white, light tan to a deep brown or burnt orange color. When they have fed, a dark red or black blob may be observed within their body. They seek shelter in dark cracks and crevices when disturbed.
Fast facts on bedbugs
- Bedbugs are small wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals.
- Most bedbugs feed on their hosts while they are asleep.
- The peak time for feeding is between midnight and 5 am.
- Bites can be seen quickly but may take up to 14 days to become visible.
- Bed bugs need to feed regularly to reproduce, lay eggs and survive.
Share on Pinterest A bedbug may cause a coriander-like smell.
The most obvious sign of bedbugs in the home is that people complain of bites that occurred while they were asleep. If this happens, examine the bedrooms for bedbugs and signs of bedbug activity.
Look carefully in bed linen and the seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs for bugs or eggs. The eggs will look like tiny, pale poppy seeds.
Signs of bedbug activity may occur beneath loose areas of wallpaper near beds, in the corner of desks and dressers, in the laundry, and in drawers.
Keep an eye out for dark brown or rust-colored bedbug droppings that stain material and mattresses. Bedbug excrement is a liquid that looks either light brown or black, and it usually either beads up or is absorbed by the material around it.
A large population of bedbugs may produce a coriander-like odor.
Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and includes:
- topical creams, such as cortisone, to relieve itching
- an oral antibiotic, if infection occurs because of skin irritation around the bite
- corticosteroids, if a person has a severe allergic reaction
- antihistamines, to help relieve allergic reactions
Most bites heal within 1 and 2 weeks of occurrence.
Some of these treatments are available for purchase online, including cortisone and antihistamines.
Since bedbugs can hide in a wide range of places in the home, they are not easy to remove. It is advisable to bring in a pest control professional.
Removing excess clutter from the house, giving the bedbugs fewer places to hide, makes inspection and removal less difficult.
Some pest control companies request that furniture is pulled away from walls and mattresses and box springs stood on edge before they enter the home. Other companies prefer everything to be left where it is so that they can perform a check before moving the furniture themselves.
Scientists at Ohio State University have determined that combining the chemical signals of bedbugs with a common insect-control agent can make it an effective treatment for killing the bugs.
Most bedbugs feed on their hosts while they sleep. They draw blood in a painless way.
While feeding, they inject a small amount of saliva into the host’s skin. If they feed on one particular person for several weeks, the individual may become more sensitive to their saliva and the chemicals that it contains. The host might eventually develop an allergic response.
Bedbugs, like fleas, tend to bite in rows. There are likely to be two or three bites in each row. This is probably because the bedbug is interrupted while feeding, and then comes back about half an inch further down for its next bite.
Bites can take up to 14 days to become visible but often appear within several days. Bedbug bites are larger than fleabites and do not usually have a red dot at the center. The bites tend to be raised and red.
They can be scattered or occur in clusters of three over the paths of blood vessels, known as the “breakfast, lunch, and dinner sign.”
Most people who are bitten show no symptoms at all and often do not know it happened. This makes it more difficult to prevent or identify potential infestations. Some individuals, however, may become ill and nauseous. It is possible to get scars and skin infections from scratching the bites.
Very rarely, people might have an anaphylactic reaction to bedbug bites. It is possible but rare to have an asthmatic reaction to bedbugs.
Bedbugs are adaptable, and there are many ways in which a bedbug infestation can occur.
They may get into a new home as stowaways when luggage, furniture, and bedding is moved in. People should be careful when purchasing second-hand furniture and should never purchase used mattresses. A careful visual inspection should allow a person to detect bedbugs or their droppings.
Even vacant and seemingly clean homes may have bedbugs in them. They can survive for over two months without any food. It is also believed they can move from apartment to apartment through hollows and holes in the walls and the tubes through which wires and pipes run.
Bedbug infestations can be difficult to prevent.
It is possible to encase both the mattress and box spring in a protective cover, as some people do for allergy relief. Some pest control firms sell them, as well as a number of retail outlets. Click here for a range of products that can help to protect a bed against infestation.
Once encased, any bedbug trapped inside and prevented from feeding will eventually die. Some people keep their new beds encased, as it prevents the bugs from getting into the crevices in the mattress and makes it easier to keep the surface clean and bug-free.
When traveling, avoid putting luggage on the bed to reduce the risk of bringing bedbugs home in a suitcase. It is also worth vacuuming any luggage after you return home and making sure you get rid of the contents of the vacuum in a tightly sealed bag. Dispose of this bag in a trashcan outside.
Separate travel clothes from laundry and immediately wash them in hot water.
If you spot bedbugs in the home, call a professional and do not attempt to resolve the infestation. Bedbugs can spread from room to room in clothing, and trying to remove them yourself can often make the matter worse.
Although they are not known to carry diseases, bedbugs can affect an individual’s quality of life, causing distress, discomfort, embarrassment, and broken sleep.
Here are the important facts to have in mind when trying to remove or identify a bedbug infestation:
- The peak time for feeding is between midnight and 5 AM. Hungry bedbugs will try to feed at any time, but they do not like sunlight and prefer the dark. One feed will take between 5 and 10 minutes. The bug will then return to its hiding place.
- Bedbugs will feed every 5 to 10 days. They can, however, last for about 70 days without feeding. A well-fed bedbug has a lifespan of several months.
- They find their host by seeking out human body heat and sensing the presence of the carbon dioxide on the breath.
- A bedbug will pierce the skin of its host with its mouth part. It first injects saliva that is a mixture of an anesthetic, so that the host feels nothing, and an anticoagulant so that the blood flows out freely. It then sucks out blood until it is full. The bites are not noticeable until after the skin reaction has occurred. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can take up to 14 days for bites to appear.
- Bedbugs can only reproduce when they have reached maturity. A female bedbug lays approximately seven eggs in a day and hundreds during her lifetime.
A review of bedbug research conducted in 2016 found that while they are highly resistant to removal methods, bedbugs seem to be more of a nuisance than a serious health problem. Research has failed to show any link between the bedbugs associated with humans and human disease.
The biggest risk for humans comes from secondary bacterial infection. With bedbugs, this would occur as a result of scratching the skin. Scratching, if it breaks the skin, allows normal bacteria from the surface of the skin to penetrate deeper.
The source of any bacterial infection is, therefore, the human host and not the bedbug.
How Bed Bugs Reproduce
In order to prevent the spread of bed bugs, it’s important to understand how they reproduce. Bedbugs reproduce via hypodermic insemination, also known as traumatic insemination. Male bugs use their genitalia to pierce the females anywhere on the abdomen, releasing sperm into the body. The sperm migrate through her abdominal fluiduntil they arrive at the ovaries, resulting in fertilization of the eggs.
The mating process is traumatic for female bed bugs, and they are frequently injured in the process. The wound can result in infection and leakage of blood, which reduces the lifespan of the female. For this reason, female bugs will avoid excessive mating where possible. After mating, they prefer to move to a location where they can remain undisturbed with a guaranteed food supply. In a safe environment, a female bed bug will typically lay between one to seven eggs each day, following each blood meal.
Bed bugs generally live for 12 to 18 months. During her lifetime, a female bed bug will lay up to 250 eggs. The milky-white eggs are roughly one millimeter long, and visible to the naked eye.The eggs are deposited in crevices and cracks on bed frames, baseboards, furniture and carpets. The female uses an adhesive layer to ensure the eggs remain in place.
Because mating results in scarring, females that have mated many times within a short period of time will produce fewer eggs. Females that have time to recover from the mating process will produce more eggs. This phenomenon helps increase the proliferation of bed bugs, because pregnant females will travel to new locations to avoid male bugs.
Eggs hatch within 1-2 weeks. The nymphs that emerge can feed on blood immediately, but are unable to reproduce until they have fully matured. Theyundergo five molting stages before reaching adulthood. During each stage they must feed at least once. The time taken to mature depends on the temperature – from three weeks in warm weather to four months in cold weather.
A female bed bug may mate with any of her adult offspring, and will lay eggs continuously assuming she has access to a blood meal. Thismeans a single pregnant female can easilycreate an infestation of five thousand bugs within six months.
A 2010 study discovered that bed bug nymphs release a pheromone that prevents males from attempting to mate with them. Scientists hope to eventually use this pheromone to disrupt bed bug reproduction and reduce infestations.
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How Long Do Bed Bugs Live?
A major problem in homes, businesses, schools, and transportation networks around the world, bed bugs have an active life cycle. They can live for up to a year (generally 6-12 months) depending on the conditions; the average lifespan is about 10 months. The presence of these blood-sucking tiny insects stirs up a lot of emotions. Being they’re in the news quite often now, you might be wondering about how these insects thrive, live, and go about their ways.
Bed bugs go through six life stages, between each they need at least one complete blood meal. They obtain all their nutrition from human blood, nothing else. Life starts as the female lays eggs. She needs to feed in order to lay them. Individuals require feeding prior to mating as well. As many as hundreds of eggs may be produced by one female bed bug in her lifetime, says the EPA. One to as many as three eggs may be laid in a day and from 5-20 can be made after just one serving of blood.
Eggs are the size of a pinhead and have a pearl-white appearance. It takes anywhere from four to twelve days for the eggs to hatch. Each one is about one millimeter long. Young bed bugs are called nymphs, which are tiny and translucent. Some are a whitish-yellow. The other stages in a bed bug’s life cycle are:
1 st Stage Nymph. Still white or yellow in color and 1.5 millimeters. Studies have shown, at around 70°F, the insect can develop to the next stage about five days after feeding.
2 nd Stage Nymph. Starts to resemble an adult and is 2 millimeters. It can reach this in five to eight days if it feeds within the first day of its previous stage.
3 rd Stage Nymph. About 2.5 millimeters.
4 th Stage Nymph. Grows up to 3 millimeters long.
5 th Stage Nymph. 4.5 millimeters.
Adults have the appearance most people associate with bed bugs. Males have a rounder and slightly larger body while females tend to be more elongated. From egg to adult it takes about 37 days. Nymphs are not very mobile and will die of dehydration if their egg was too far from a host.
Mating is an important part of the life cycle. Male bed bugs have external genitalia, which they use to penetrate the female’s abdominal cavity. This process is called traumatic insemination. Sperm from the male is injected into the abdomen and migrates to the ovaries. The eggs are fertilized soon thereafter.
Females can be mated with several times. Some, however, have been known to leave to avoid further injury. This is another crucial aspect in the spread of bed bugs. Rogue females can go it alone, mate with their offspring, and start an entirely new colony. If she already has fertilized eggs then her clan can start multiplying in no time.
Disagreements on Life Span
A Virginia Tech report shows well-fed adult bed bugs can live up to 300 days in the laboratory. Of course in a lab, they have access to food, live in steady temperatures, and don’t get crushed. Studies in Europe done in the 1930s and 40s found they could live without food for over a year. This was in the UK before central heating was used. In the more temperate conditions of U.S. homes, starved bed bugs live an average of 70 days. They must stay hydrated and eating blood is the only way to do so.
Scientists also say that bed bugs have another reason for congregating in such large numbers. This changes the temperature and humidity in those tiny cracks and crevices. More favorable conditions enable them to survive longer when food sources are low.
A bed bug’s life is indeed a fight for survival. Conditions aren’t always ideal. Being small and good at hiding has the drawback of increased crushing risk. A resistance to some insecticides has been found. Those insects that are resistant have reduced development times and life spans, while producing fewer eggs.
In general, bed bugs have just a few months to hatch, feed, mature, and mate. Despite these limitations they have an incredible ability to survive and proliferate in homes, businesses, and just about anywhere.
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