Stages of development and size of the bug

Six Stages of Bed Bug Development

Bed bugs have been a part of civilization since, well, since we’ve had beds. In fact they’ve been around so long that we even have phrases about them. “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” Not that these pests only inhabit beds, though. Bed bugs can also be hiding in your walls and furniture as well. What you might not know about bed bugs is how they develop and grow up. Unlike like people, who have about four stages of development (baby, child, adolescent, adult) bed bugs have a whopping six! Check out the bed bug’s life cycle below:

Stages of life #1: Egg

Technically this isn’t considered a stage of development for bedbugs; however, this is when they first start to develop. These eggs have a milky-white color to them and are about the size of a grain of sand.

Stages of life #2: Nymph Stage 1

There are five stages of development a nymph will go through in their development towards adulthood. When they’ve hatched out of their egg their about 1.5 millimeters in length. As soon as they’re born they look for a meal and will continue feeding until they die, however they won’t mate until adulthood.

Stages of life #3: Nymph Stage 2

The second nymph stage happens after the bed bugs first molt, at this point in time they will be about 2 millimeters long, which is about as long as the tip of a crayon.

Stages of life #4: Nymph Stage 3

After molting for a second time they enter being a third stage nymph. At this point they will be 2.5 millimeters long.

Stages of life #5: Nymph Stage 4

A fourth stage nymph will, on average, be 3 millimeters long.

Stages of life #6: Nymph Stage 5

This is the final nymph stage; at this point the bed bug will be around 4.5 millimeters long. That’s about the size of a pencil eraser, yikes!

Stages of life #6: Adult

After five weeks of fully maturing the nymph has finally become an adult, and it’s at this point they can breed. The average life expectancy is six months but it’s not unheard of for these pests to live up to a year.

How fast do bed bugs breed?

Bed bug populations can boom in a matter of a few months. A female bed bug can lay from 1 to 5 eggs a day, and it takes two weeks for those eggs to hatch and five weeks until the nymphs become adults that can mate. This means that over a course of seven weeks a bedbug is born and matures, letting it breed with other bed bugs. With this in mind you can see that a bed bug population can explode in a matter of months. Because of this it’s best to take care of the problem as early as possible.

What do I do if I have a bed bug infestation?

Masters Termite & Pest control has been providing commercial and residential pest control services for more than 30 years. We offer full service pest control and prevention programs, including bed bug evaluation and eradication. If you have a bed bug infestation contact us today and we’ll make sure to get rid of them as soon as possible.

If you want to know more about bed begs then click here.

The Life Cycle of Bed Bugs

If you have discovered bed bugs in your mattress and bedding, then you are probably interested in learning how to get rid of them as quickly, cheaply and painlessly as possible. However, it is important to learn about the life cycle of bed bugs in order to fully understand what you are up against. If you notice several generations of bed bugs around your home, then it could be a sign that the infestation has been around for a while. This information would be helpful to an exterminator because this indicates the severity of the infestation.

The Life Cycle

In order to identify if there are several generations of bed bugs in your home, you need to be aware of what each stage looks like. There are essentially seven stages to a bed bug’s life cycle.

Bed bugs start their lives in eggs, which have a milky white color to them. These eggs are about one millimeter in length, so they can be a little hard to see because they are comparable in size to a couple grains of salt.

1st Stage Nymph:

There are five stages of growth that nymphs go through. 1st stage nymphs are 1.5 millimeters in length. As soon as they come out of their eggs, they can start feeding immediately. Throughout these nymph stages the bed bugs are not mature, so they will not begin to breed until they are fully adults.

2nd Stage Nymph:

Once a bed bug has gone through its first molt, it will become a 2nd stage nymph, which is about 2 millimeters long.

3rd Stage Nymph:

After molting again, bed bugs become 3rd stage nymphs. At this point, they are around 2.5 millimeters long.

4th Stage Nymph:

At this stage, bed bugs get to be 3 millimeters long.

5th Stage Nymph:

This is the final nymph stage, and once it is reached, bed bugs can get up to 4.5 millimeters long.

It takes about five weeks for a nymph to become an adult. At this point, they are able to breed. The lifespan of a bed bug is generally about four to six months. However, it is not unheard of for the pests to live up to a year.

How Fast Are Bed Bugs Able to Breed?

Thinking about a bed bug population booming is not necessarily the most fun thing in the world to think about. However, it is an important aspect to keep in mind because it is always better to curb the population before it gets out of hand. It may only take a few months before you have a full-on infestation on your hands.

Most people generally bring bed bugs into their home after staying at a hotel or another place that already had them. One or more pests may attach themselves to your clothes or luggage and get a ride back to your house without you even knowing it.

You may also start out with only a couple bugs. However, females are able to lay somewhere between one and five eggs a day. It takes about two weeks for the eggs to hatch, and as soon as they come out, the 1st stage nymphs will immediately begin to bite a host and feed on blood.

It takes five weeks for a 1st stage nymph to mature into an adult that is capable of breeding, so within two or three months, you could have a massive population on your hands. If no steps are taken to contain the infestation, then you could have tens of thousands of bed bugs around your home within 6 months. This is why early detection is so vital.

If you notice red bumps on your skin when you wake up, you should inspect your mattress thoroughly. Bed bugs are small but can still be noticed. They are generally reddish brown and have a flat appearance to them. Never wait to address the issue; acting swiftly is key to containing a bed bug population before it becomes a problem.

How Often Do Bed Bugs Feed?

Adult bed bugs generally only need to feed once a week. Therefore, you may not necessarily wake up every morning with red bumps, but it really depends on the size of the population you are looking at. However, it is possible for the pests to go longer periods of time without eating. Although a myth persists that bed bugs can go up to a whole year with eating, this is very rare and generally does not happen. Depending on the climate, the bugs may be able to go a month or two without eating. That means that even if you leave your house for a week or more for vacation, the bed bugs will still be waiting for you when you get back.

When a bed bug bites your skin for a meal, it usually takes about five to 10 minutes for it to get a full dinner. Due to the fact that bed bugs are very small, you may not even feel the bite when it is happening. You may only realize something is amiss because you are waking up with red bumps on your skin. These bumps can be itchy, but for the most part, they do not pose any serious health threats unless you are allergic to bed bugs. The bites are a mild annoyance for most people, so they are easy to ignore. However, as soon as you notice the bumps, you need to perform a thorough inspection of your bed and furniture so that you can identify any bed bugs and address the issue. It may be a hassle to get rid of them, but you will save time and money by dealing with this issue when it is still small.

Act Fast to Rid Your Home of Bed Bugs

It can be a major headache to you have bed bugs in your home, but it is best to act quickly and contact the professionals to come out to your home to fumigate. Before you know it, you will be rid of the pests and can finally get a good night’s sleep once again.

About Author

Erin is a native Austinite that loves writing, wikipedia, online window-shopping for home goods, and riding on airplanes. When not writing articles at work, you can probably find her winding down with a glass of wine, a book, and her two favorite neurotic cats.

I have severe reactions to the bites. They itch LOTS and the only thing I have found that will give me relief is to run water that is as hot as I can tolerate w/o burning me over the bite for at least 45 seconds. This process is effective for several hours, but is not a cure. Is there anything I can apply to my skin which will kill the bug after biting me? That would be really nice! (our infestation was mild in comparison to some, but I’m still finding one or two every couple days.

Ronald Nicholson says

What I can’t understand is why bed bugs were a thing of the pass a joke in poems. ( Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite) why are they now coming back? we live in a small town here in Kansas and every one now not only have them but can’t get rid of them.

We got our home infested by a friend (?) Who needed a place to sleep for a weekend …

We’ve been doing the bombing and spraying and got rid of two beds …

What else can we do ?

purchase 91 percent alcohol and spray daily this strength alcohol kills them.

but will also kill you

Ronald Nicholson says

We have had these guys for over a year and I can not get rid of them. We have taken our bed apart, vacuumed, sprayed several different types of bed bug sprays, threw away furniture an washed our sheets pillowcases once a week in hot water and can not get rid of them. Is thee any spray that you can recommend to get rid of them?

Make sure the beds are clean…spray with high alcohol content in all crevices and cracks. Encase the beds if needed. Keep checking corners and areas for markings. Once the bed is clean/protected put bed bug interceptors on all the legs and don’t let anything touch the ground. This will keep your bed from getting re infected and let you sleep soundly. Then spread diatomaceous earth all around the ground in all areas you are worried about them. It takes time, but they will die and anytime they cross the floor they will die shortly after.

Unfortunately we too had a friend who brought theses into our home. Only tenting with Vikane gas killed them. It takes 10 times the normal amount of gas to kill the eggs. A good pest service should be contacted. In the meanwhile visits with friend now occur via skype as she is not as fortunate to be able to tent and still has them

Bed Bug Pictures

Below are bed bug images and pictures providing a magnified view at different development stages. This page is important as identifying a bed bug infestation early on can help reduce the spread and progression of an infestation. Bed bugs take on many different appearance throughout their 5 stages of development as well as before and after a meal, which can make identification more difficult. We have complied the following images to make such identification much easier.

Below: (Close-up of an adult bed bug about half the size of an apple seed)

The pictures below show a bed bud during a blood meal as it gradually fills with blood. It’s quite interesting as the end pictures looks quite different than the stereotypical image we perceive bed bugs to be. As they feed up to 7 times their own weight, their flat body becomes more round (sort of like a wasp).

Bed bugs go through 5 stages of development during which their size and appearance dramatically changes from almost translucent to finally a dark brown adult bed bug. In order to develop and progress through each of the 5 stages, bed bugs must continue to feed. Without a blood meal, they cannot become and adult bed bug where reproduction would then occur. This is why cutting off their ability to feed with climbup interceptors and certified bedding encasements is crucial to a successful treatment.

Below: (Bed bug 5 stage lifecycle from a first instar nymph to an adult bed bug)

If you think you may have bed bugs, we suggest monitoring for them by applying Climbup Insect Interceptors. Place the traps under the feet of your bed or other furniture, and the bugs will fall into them and get trapped.

Below is a picture of bed bugs at different life stages on top of a nickel. Adult bed bugs end up about half the size of an apple seed with earlier stages being a fraction of the size. Given unfed 1st instar nymphs are almost translucent in appearance, it can be difficult to see them.

Below: (Bed bugs of different life stages on top of a nickel to show a size comparison reference)

Bed bugs must feed in order to develop into an adult bed bug. The following images show a 1st instar nymph before and after a blood meal. Notice how different the bed bugs appearance becomes after feeding from almost transparent to blood red.

Below: (Side by side image of a 1st instal bed bug nymph before and after feeding)

Share your Bed Bug Picture

Send pictures of your bed bug infestation to [email protected] , if we choose to use your picture, we’ll send you a coupon to use on your order.

The email should include:
– your bed bug pictures
– a short description of your pictures
– your name or nickname
– your location (e.g. Picture taken by John – Tamarac ,FL)

*Only chosen pictures will receive the coupon. Not valid with any other offer.

What is the Lifecycle of a Bed Bug?

There’s truth to the saying “know your enemy.” The more you understand about bed bugs, their behavior, and their lives, the easier it will be to eradicate them.

This article will explore the complete life cycle of a bed bug. We’ll explain each life stage in detail, including how long it lasts and what a bug in this stage looks like. Finally, we’ll discuss how long bed bugs live for, and whether they can survive in hostile conditions.

What is the Bed Bug Life Cycle Timeline?

Before we get into the details of each life stage, let’s look at a quick overview of the timeline.

Stage Description Duration
Stage 1: Egg Bed bug eggs can be found in dark, secluded spots around the home. They are tiny and white. Eggs take 6 – 9 days to hatch.
Stage 2: Nymph Juvenile bed bugs (too young to breed). Nymphs are 1.4 – 4mm long. They progress through 5 stages, called instars, before reaching adulthood. Each instar lasts 5 – 8 days. In total, the nymph stage lasts around 35 – 40 days.
Stage 3: Adult This is the final developmental stage. Bed bugs are at their largest (4 – 7 mm) and may reproduce during this stage. Bed bugs may live for 3 to 10 months as adults.

Let’s now examine each stage in more detail, starting with eggs.

1) The Egg Stage

The egg stage, as you might guess, is where it all begins. Bed bugs begin their development inside eggs, laid in quiet, dark, secluded spots around the home.

Particular favorite spots include tight crevices where the eggs aren’t likely to be disturbed.

    Joints and crevices in the bed frame or headboard Creases in the mattress, such as the piping along the edges Ins >Carpets and rugs, especially at the very edges of the room Cracks in walls and baseboards, including underneath flakes of chipped paint Inside electrical outlets and underneath light switches.

Bed bug eggs are sometimes laid in small clusters, but are often laid alone. After they are laid, bed bugs glue their eggs to the surface using a sticky secretion.

Nowhere is safe – eggs are so small that they could reasonably be anywhere. Eggs might be hiding on the backs of pictures hanging on the wall, in curtain folds, inside electronics such as computer keyboards, or even on stuffed animals. They may not all be in the bedroom, either – bed bugs may spend time anywhere that humans are present.

What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like?

It’s not impossible to see a bed bug egg with the naked eye, but you’d have to look quite hard to spot them.

Typical bed bug eggs are less than 1mm long. They are an elongated oval shape, like a piece of short-grain rice (though much smaller).

Bed bug eggs are a whitish color and slightly translucent. If you look hard enough, you may be able to see a small dark dot in one end.

How Long Do Bed Bug Eggs Take to Hatch?

On average, bed bugs spend about 6 to 9 days in the egg stage, under optimal conditions. For the most rapid development, bed bug eggs prefer temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature is lower, it may take several extra days before the eggs are ready to hatch.

How to Find Bed Bug Eggs

Finding and killing bed bug eggs before they hatch is one way to help keep your bed bug population down.

If you’re going on a hunt for bed bug eggs, you’ll need three things: a magnifying glass, a powerful flashlight, and a lot of luck.

Bed bug eggs are so small that they tend to be overlooked easily. Because they’re slightly translucent, they blend in well with any background that they’re laid on. And because bed bugs tend to lay their eggs in the most unlikely of places, and the tiniest gaps, it’s hard to find them all.

You’ll need to search every room in your house, and leave no stone unturned.

If you do find bed bug eggs, you might be wondering how to tell whether the eggs alive or have already hatched. Here’s what to look out for.

    Live bed bug eggs are whitish in color, plump, and not shriveled or wrinkled. Check to see if the tip of the egg (the cap) is intact. If it’s gone or the egg is opened, then the bug has already hatched. If you can see two small red dots near the end of the egg, this is an indicator that the egg is almost ready to hatch. The dots are the bed bug’s eyes.

2) The Nymph Stage

Once the bed bug hatches from the egg, it is classified as a nymph. “Nymph” is used to refer to bed bugs that have not yet reached adulthood. This is the second-longest stage of bed bug development.

The nymph stage is split into 5 separate phases, known as “instars.” To move on to the next instar, a bed bug nymph must do 2 things:

    Take one blood meal from a human host Molt (shed their exoskeleton).

Each instar is slightly bigger than the last, until the nymph grows into an adult.

What Does a Bed Bug Nymph Look Like?

Bed bug nymphs start very small (1.5 to 2mm long), and cream in color. Once they’ve fed, they appear bright red, as their bodies are so thin that you can see through to their stomach contents.

As the nymphs progress through each instar, they get slightly bigger and slightly darker in color.

The body shape of a bed bug nymph is identical to that of an adult bed bug, just smaller. They have a small head, to which two antennae are attached, and a small thorax. Their abdomens are large and oval, and they have six legs. After taking a meal, nymphs become more elongated and swollen.

How Long Does Each Instar Last?

The length of each instar depends on two variables:

  1. At optimum temperatures (above 70 but below 90 degrees Fahrenheit), nymphs can move, feed and grow more quickly.
  2. Availability of a human host. From the moment the nymph hatches from the egg (or sheds its skin), it will begin searching for a human to feed on. It can’t grow, molt or progress to the next instar unless it has taken a blood meal.

Once the nymph has fed, it will take around 5 days before it sheds its skin. If the nymph can feed within 24 hours of molting, each stage may only last 5 days in total. However, progress can be stalled by low temperatures and by a lack of food.

Assuming optimal conditions, the entire nymph stage – from hatching to becoming an adult – will last 35 to 40 days.

3) The Adult Stage

After reaching the 5th instar, a bed bug nymph will take one more blood meal and then molt once more. After it crawls out of its shed skin, it is officially an adult.

Once a bed bug has reached adulthood, it is fully grown, and will no longer shed its exoskeleton. However, it will continue to take blood meals from its human host, for the rest of its life.

Adult bed bugs will seek out a blood meal approximately once every 3-7 days. However, this does depend on the ambient temperature in the home.

A study by Medical and Veterinary Entomology found that at warmer temperatures (78 degrees Fahrenheit), bed bugs feed more frequently, around once every 2.5 days.

At colder temperatures, however, they may only feed once every 10 days, or even less often.

As well as drinking blood, adult bed bugs have two additional duties: mating, and laying eggs. Of course, it’s the female bed bugs that lay eggs. The males mate with as many females as they can.

What Do Adult Bed Bugs Look Like?

Adult bed bugs look a lot like apple seeds. They are approximately the same size – between 4.5mm and 7mm long. They are the same color as apple seeds – a deep mahogany brown, with hints of red.

Like their younger counterparts, adult bed bugs have six legs, two short antennae, and oval-shaped abdomens. Their bodies are very clearly segmented when viewed from above. This can help to distinguish them between other similar-looking bugs, such as spider beetles and carpet beetles.

The adults are the easiest bed bugs to spot, as they are the largest, and the darkest in color. However, they do tend to stay hidden in cracks and crevices around the home, especially during the daytime. At night, bed bugs will emerge from their hiding spots to feed.

How Do Bed Bugs Reproduce?

Bed bugs are sexual creatures, like humans. One female and one male bed bug must come together and mate to reproduce.

Male bed bugs possess a pointed sex organ called an aedeagus. This is located at the very tip of the abdomen. When a male bed bug seeks out a female, he will use his aedeagus to penetrate the female bed bug on the underside of her abdomen.

This process breaks the female’s exoskeleton, which is why bed bug copulation is called “traumatic insemination.” The ordeal results in an open wound which must heal for the female to survive.

The male’s sperm will then make contact with the female sex organ, called the mesospermalege. From there, it migrates to the ovaries, where it fertilizes the female’s eggs.

3 to 6 days later, the female will lay her eggs. She may lay them all in her harborage (where she spends most of her time), or she might lay them one by one, on her travels.

Can Bed Bugs Lay Eggs Without Mating?

Many types of life form, including several species of insect, can lay eggs without mating.

In asexual reproduction, the female of the species can lay eggs without having the eggs fertilized by a male. This creates the handy ability to reproduce quickly, without the need for a partner of the opposite sex.

Some sources claim that bed bugs can reproduce asexually. Fortunately (for us), this is a myth. Though asexual reproduction would inevitably help the bed bug species to survive, they haven’t yet evolved that ability. Bed bugs are strictly sexual reproducers: a female bed bug must mate with a male bed bug to lay eggs.

However, bed bugs may not begin to lay eggs until six days after mating has taken place. This means that it’s possible for a pregnant female bed bug to work her way into a different room, apartment or even a new home altogether before laying her eggs. Just because you may have only found one bed bug in your home, you could still be in for trouble.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Survive?

Now that you’re familiar with the bed bug life cycle, there’s probably one question on your mind: how long do bed bugs live for?

This question is not as straightforward as it may seem. The lifespan of an adult bed bug depends on several factors.

    Temperature Availability of a host to feed on The presence of pesticides in the environment

Aside from the above circumstances, a bed bug’s life could be cut short by other means, too. For example, you might roll over while you’re sleeping and inadvertently crush a bed bug to death. Traumatic insemination can also result in the death of the female, if she is mated with too many times, or the wound doesn’t properly heal.

In laboratory studies, it’s been found that adult bed bugs can live for up to 300 days – that’s almost 10 months.

However, the bed bugs in lab studies are raised in optimal conditions. The environmental temperature is strictly controlled, and they are provided with as much blood as they could want.

So, let’s look at the factors that could affect bed bugs in typical situations, and how they might influence their lifespan.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live Without Feeding?

There have been many laboratory studies devoted to finding out how long bed bugs can live without food.

One study, conducted by the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech, found that adult bed bugs can survive between 41.5 and 142.6 days (1.4 months and 4.7 months). That’s quite a long time.

It’s thought that bed bugs go into a hibernation-like state when starving, meaning that they use up less of their bodily resources, enabling them to survive for significantly longer.

But what about nymphs? As we’ve discussed, a bed bug nymph must take at least one blood meal before being able to molt, and progress to the next instar. The bed bug life cycle without food is the same as the normal life cycle – it just lasts a lot longer.

The same study found that without food, nymphs (up to and including the 4 th instar) were able to survive between 13.6 and 131.9 days. The younger the nymph, the quicker they died without food.

Different studies invariably come up with different results. Some studies have found that bed bugs were able to survive for over a year without food. This could be due to differing laboratory conditions, or different strains of bed bugs from different areas.

One thing is clear: trying to “starve out” bed bugs isn’t a practical choice, unless you’re willing to stay in a hotel for a year.

Can Bed Bugs Survive Extreme Temperatures?

Bed bugs rely on the correct household temperatures to thrive, grow and breed.

Multiple studies have shown that bed bugs live the longest at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hugely convenient for bed bugs, as the majority of people set their home thermostats between 70 and 75 degrees.

Bed bugs can still survive to a reasonable degree above and below these temperatures, though they may not live as long.

It’s not a coincidence, either – bed bugs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years. They have become adapted to living in the same environmental conditions as us.

High temperatures and low temperatures can both be deadly to bed bugs. Studies have demonstrated that bed bugs can’t survive temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Professional exterminators use this in their favor. Whole-house heat treatment has proven very effective at eradicating even the largest infestations of bed bugs. It’s the only sure-fire way of ensuring that no bed bugs or eggs survive.

Can Bed Bugs Survive Pesticide Treatment?

Pesticide treatment has been the go-to method of bed bug eradication for decades. To this day, most commercially sold bed bug killers contain insecticides such as pyrethroids and neonicotinoids.

However, according to several recent studies, most strains of bed bug have now developed a resistance to the most commonly used pesticides.

But how has this happened? They evolved the ability the way that any organism evolves: natural selection.

With every new generation of bed bugs, there’s a chance that some will be born with a genetic mutation allowing them to survive a pesticide treatment. When pesticides are used, only the resistant bugs survive. They then pass on this trait to their children, leading to an entire pesticide-resistant strain.

What About Desiccants?

There are still some bed bug killers that work. Desiccants like diatomaceous earth, for example, work by leaching moisture out of the bugs and dehydrating them. Bed bugs can’t develop a resistance to this, so they’re always a safe option to use.

That being said, desiccants alone can’t handle a large infestation. Only the bugs which are directly exposed to the treatment will be killed. The bugs that manage to escape and hide will survive, and start a new generation.

If you’re struggling to deal with bed bugs, contact a professional exterminator. They’ll be able to assess how bad the infestation is, and recommend an appropriate treatment, which will likely be a heat treatment. The longer that you leave the problem alone, the harder it will be to treat.

Further Information About Bed Bugs:

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Lou Carter

Hi, I’m Lou. I’ve long been fascinated by bed bugs, ever since a friend’s life was turned upside down. That’s why I’ve put together this specialist site. You’ll find detailed answers to all of your questions on how to get rid of a bed bug infestation. I hope you find it useful!

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