Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals. If you want to get rid of bed bugs completely then you have to get rid of their eggs as well because the life cycle of a bed bugs starts with an egg. You have to know how the bed bug eggs look like to the human eye in order to stop them from hatching and get relieved from infestation.
A female bed bug lays one or more eggs per day and may lay from 200 to 500 eggs in its lifetime. Most of the eggs hatch between six or seven days and few may take up to eight or nine days depending on the temperature they are provided. Eggs hatch and nymphs emerge. A female bed bug will need a meal of blood before it lays eggs. Most of the female bed bugs will hatch successfully after their blood meal. Nymphs and adults take about 5-10 minutes to obtain a full blood meal and immediately finds a hiding spot to digest their meal, seek a mate, or rest.
Mating occurs involves a unique form of copulation called ‘traumatic insemination’ also known as hypodermic insemination whereby the male pierces the female’s abdominal wall with his external genitalia and injects its sperm through the wound into the female’s abdominal cavity. After mating the female bed bug lays the egg which is almost the size of a head of a pin. They can be really difficult to see with naked eyes since they are very small in size. Also, we require magnification and the use of flashlights when searching for them. The eggs are oval shaped, milky white in color due to lack of blood. If the eggs are more than five days old, they will be marked by two black dots that resembles an eye. They are sticky and tend to adhere to the surfaces where they are hatched until they reach next stage.
It takes about 37 days for a bed bug to reach an adult stage from an egg. Egg beg bugs will go through five molting stages before they reach adulthood. Each molting stage is known as an instar. They need to feed at least once before each molt. To reach each instar stage they need to shed their skin (outer exoskeleton) a process known as ecdysis. An instar needs a blood meal within three days after its birth or it may start to die. The rate at which the life cycle of a bed bus go through depends on the temperature and availability of food.
- At the first instar nymph stage, they are 1.5 mm long and are yellowish white in color. They are hard to be seen with naked eyes since they are almost transparent. They can also feature fine hairs that are a characteristic of the species.
- In this stage, they take a blood meal before reaching second instar nymph stage. They are 2 mm long and are dark yellow in color.
- At the fourth stage, they reach their third instar nymph stage when they are 2.5 mm long. Their yellowish tone takes slightly reddish tone at this stage and they become more visible at this stage.
- They take the blood meal and then molts again. At fourth instar nymph stage, they take the size of a grain of salt. They are about 3mm in size at this stage.
- The fifth instar stage is the last stage before reaching adulthood. At this stage, they take a dark red-brown color and grow up to 4.5 mm in length.
- Although nymphs look similar to adults, they are smaller in size and are not yet sexually mature. They also a look lighter in color. A nymph will look for a blood meal right after hatching from an egg. They can feed on blood in a similar manner like adults.
The final stage is the adult stage and they are now flat, dark reddish-brown in color. And they are about five millimeters long, or roughly the size of an apple seed. They are now sexually mature and can mate successfully. The adult bed bug doesn’t need to be fed every night and they can be fed weekly. They came out at night, feed themselves for 10 to 15 minutes and then immediately goes back to their hiding spot. As they feed, their abdomen extends to accommodate their blood meal and they take an elongated shape. They can survive over a year without feeding but they need to be fed in order to reproduce.
Most bed bugs live for four to six months, though some can live for over a year without food by hibernating. During that short lifetime, the average bed bug fathers a family of over five generations, each spanning possibly hundreds of inbreeding bugs! This shocking rate of population expansion makes it easy to see how an infestation can get out of hand so quickly and gives a clue to how bed bugs can spread so quickly.
Where Do Bed Bugs Lay Their Eggs
Most of the bed bugs lay eggs on protected areas and as close to food source as possible for their survival. They are so small that they can fit themselves in cracks and crevices and lay eggs there. They attach on the host at night and target the exposed areas of the host. Since their favorite food is human blood they are most like to be found in the beds. They will also feed on other animals if they are unable to find a human host. Their eggs adhere to mattresses seams & joints, on the box spring, picture frames, clothes, sheets, upholstered furniture, and behind the headboard if it is attached to the wall.
If you are unable to feel the bed bug bites then look for other ways to find their presence because for some individual bites of bed bug scan go completely unnoticed. Normally bed bug bites look like the raised flat red area that may have become red, itchy and inflamed or blistered. The marks may appear in the zigzag line or often grouped in a cluster. Generally, the swelling due to bed bug bites lasts for only about two weeks. The condition of the inflamed area may worsen through continuous scratching and may lead to scarring. They may cause infection and may be filled with puss. If there is any occurrence of infection then the marks might last a little longer otherwise the marks due to bed bug bites goes away within two weeks or so.
How To Find
Since bed bugs primarily feed on the human blood, you can understand the presence of bed bugs if you see red marks or blood stain on bed sheets and mattresses. They will try to find another animal blood if they are unable to find a human host. If you see your pet is losing hair and having rashes on the skin look properly to find bed bugs. Look around the pets bedding. You might see the fecal stain of the beg bugs or their discarded exoskeleton. Their fecal stain usually looks like brown, red or rust colored spots.
A large number of bed bugs may be identified with pungent, “musty-sweetish” odor produced through glands on the lower side of the body. Their presence is very common in hotels motels and crowded places, office buildings, movie theaters, gyms and other crowded places where there is a good source of human blood. They can easily travel from one place to another.
A bed bug can live from 10 months to over a year. Adult bed bugs can survive over a year without food by hibernating. And, the nymphs can survive for several months without food. The can produce more than three generations in their lifetime if they are given favorable conditions. They can take as short as 21 days to develop completely.
The eggs are the reason for not being unable to remove beg bugs completely since they are easy to miss. There are several methods available for killing bed bug eggs. Those include using of bed bug sprays, steam treatment and freezing temperatures and other pets control techniques. Washing clothes at very high temperatures will also kill all the bedbug eggs. There also many home remedies available on the internet to get rid of them. If the infestation is unbearable then you need to seek help from professionals. It is recommended that at least three treatments are required to remove bed bugs eggs completely from a house.
Although this animal can’t transmit disease, steps should be taken to avoid infestation to avoid itching and irritation that they cause. They can cause serious infection to some individuals although the number of individuals suffering due to bed bug infection is very rare.
With the rate of infestation, there must be proper education on how to control the bed bugs. They must be killed at the initial stage of their lifecycle so that they are not sexually mature enough to reproduce. Thus, it is very important to learn about every stage in the unique bed bug life cycle so that you can spot their presence at an early stage and take necessary steps.