Bed Bugs: How is their life cycle?
Bed bugs are insects that survive on the blood of warm-blooded animals, such as humans, and as a result are often found in human residences. As their name implies, they prefer hiding near areas that receive lots of human traffic, such as in beds, upholstered furniture, mattresses, headboards, floor crevices, outlets, carpets, and even clothing.
While these unwelcomed insects can present a range of health and sanitation issues, knowing their life cycles will help you stay on top of a future or existing infestation. By being aware of their patterns and behavior, you can ensure that you will never experience a bed bug infestation again.
The life cycle begins, as with all insects, with an egg. These eggs look like grain and are milky white in color. Bed bugs can lay up to five eggs a day, producing nearly five hundred eggs in a single lifetime. These eggs are usually laid in clusters, but can also be laid in singles, and are usually placed within tight spaces. Eggs are less than a millimeter in length, roughly the size of a couple of grains of salt. They hatch within two weeks. Once hatched, baby bed bugs bite almost immediately when a meal is present.
Young bed bugs begin to feed as soon as they hatch. These young individuals, known as nymphs, molt five times before they are sexually mature. They are smaller than adults and yellow-white in color. Nymphs become adults within five weeks at room temperature.
Nymph bed bugs are usually invisible to the naked eye because they are a pale white, almost translucent, in color. If they haven’t had a recent feeding and are engorged with blood, they can be incredibly difficult to spot. However, they will exhibit the same telltale signs of infestation as adult bed bugs do.
Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown and have experienced five molts, each with an accompanying blood meal. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, and are long and brown. They generally have flat, oval bodies. Most have four-part antenna and flightless wings as well. Bed bug adults make weekly feedings and can live up to six months. In some cases with extremely favorable conditions, they can live up to a year–even if there is no food.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
The most common sign of a bed bug infestation is wake up with raised, red, itchy bites. These are often left in zigzagging liens or small clusters, and will appear seemingly overnight. Bites are usually found on the arms or shoulders, as opposed to flea bites, which are usually located around the ankles. Bed bugs don’t spread any disease, but these bites can be irritating and are usually a good sign that you have an active infestation.
You may also notice blood stains, looking like small rust spots on your sheets or edges of the bed. Bed bugs also shed their exoskeletons, so finding these are feces is a definite sign that you have an issue. You may detect a musty odor or find actual bed bugs scuttling around as well.
What Do I Do If I Have a Bed Bug Infestation?
Knowing what to look for and what to expect is the first step in targeting and controlling bed bugs. While many home pests look similar to bed bugs, being able to accurately identify a bed bug in any of its life stages is a crucial part of getting rid of an infestation.
If you suspect an infestation, don’t delay in providing treatment. Wash all your clothes and linens in the hottest water setting possible, then dry at the same level of high heat. For furniture or upholstery that you can’t wash, vacuum and clean it thoroughly. Consider contacting a pest control specialist to ensure that you have removed all signs of the infestation, and also to help provide tips and treatments to prevent future infestations.