Understanding various bed bug life cycle stages is important for homeowners to understand exactly where these pests hide. By taking time to study this process, one can utilize proper solutions for their extermination.
Bed bug life cycle details
As with many other insects in their category, bed bugs go through 3 different bed bug life cycle stages from immaturity to adulthood. Naturally, the life of every bed bug begins with the egg stage. Female bed bugs undergo traumatic insemination from their male counterparts nearly thrice each year to lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. The complete lifecycle (or metamorphosis) from the egg stage to a fully developed adult bed bug lasts for about 21 days depending on the surrounding conditions.
- The beginning stage- A female bed bug lays her eggs in crevices and cracks found near the warm-blooded hosts’ sleeping areas; usually they prefer rough surfaces for this process. Females then cement the eggs using a sticky liquid for up to a week or two. After this period, the eggs hatch leading to the nymph stage of the bed bug life cycle.
- The nymphs- The nymphs are the baby bed bugs. This bed bug life cycle stage lasts from several weeks to months (depending on the temperature and availability of food). The nymphs are extremely hungry in this stage and they go out in search of meal (blood) that is necessary for their development. After getting their first meal, the nymphs molt as many as five times. During molting, they change from tiny colorless insects to rust colored adult bed bugs. In between the molting periods, the nymphs continue to feed on their warm blooded hosts during which time they may even draw blood for up to 10 minutes!
- The adult- After five nymph stages, the adult bed bug is formed. This is the last of the bed bug life cycle stages and under favorable conditions, can last for nearly 6 to 12 months. Adult bed bugs spend most of their time hiding, digesting their food, mating or laying eggs.
Factors which influence the bed bug life cycle
There are several factors which affect the bed bug life cycle. Knowing these factors can help homeowners in their search for bed bug hideouts.
Ambient temperature: The surrounding temperature plays a crucial role in the bed bugs’ development. The eggs need ideal conditions for hatching. Similarly, the nymphs also require warm and temperate conditions to molt several times into adulthood. Ideally, this temperature lies in the range of 65 to 85 degrees. If this range is not met, there may be developmental delays in the bed bug life cycle. For example, if the temperature is less than 65 degrees, the bed bug life cycle may take 120 days (instead of 21 days) for completion.
Food- As stated before, food is also necessary for the development of the bed bug life cycle. The females need food for laying eggs and for proper egg development. The nymphs need several blood meals for growing into the adult stage. Without the right amount of food, there may be developmental delays for molting subsequently prolonging the time taken to reach adulthood. Thus, the time taken for nymphs to molt into maturity is in direct proportion to the amount of food present around them. Adult bed bugs do not necessarily need food every day, rather, they spend most of their time in hiding. Well fed bed bugs appear engorged and swollen and hold the contents of their meals in their abdominal cavities. Adult bed bugs need to eliminate the digested food and they do so in the form of dark red fecal stains. These are the most tell-tale signs of bed bug activity when inspecting and searching for bed bugs.
These are the different bed bug life cycle stages, understanding which is important for their detection and prevention.