Over the last few decades, bed bugs have made a staggering return to American homes. Once thought all but eradicated from our shores, these invasive pests have returned with a vengeance. As a pest these blood-suckers are quick to spread throughout communities, but difficult to eliminate once they become entrenched in a home, office, or housing complex.
We know that bed bugs spread predominately through contact with humans. They hitch rides on clothing and personal belongings, following us into our homes and offices and setting up invading colonies. But that’s only part of the problem. Bed bugs are eager breeders. In fact, it can be said that their whole lives are dedicated to feeding, reproducing, and ultimately expanding their numbers.
The Egg Really Did Come First
Like most insects the life cycle of the bed bug begins with an egg. Bed bug eggs are about the size of a grain of table salt. They typically have a milky white color, and are most often laid in clusters by the female.
In a suitable environment female bed bugs can, and will, lay eggs every day. Their life is basically a steady stream of eating, mating, and laying eggs. Breeding is their primary goal, and boy these bloodsuckers sure are good at it.
How Many Eggs is Too Many?
The average bed bug lives for between 4 and 6 months. It takes a female bed bug approximately 7 weeks to reach maturity, and to then begin mating and laying eggs. That gives her a solid 4 months or so for active reproduction.
Now, a female bed bug is likely to lay between 5 and 7 eggs per day (assuming a conducive environment that provides adequate food and shelter). If we do the math, we can expect the average female bed bug to lay between 200 and 300 eggs in their lifetime.
Keep in mind those numbers reflect the reproduction cycle of a single female bed bug. Consider how quickly the numbers increase when you figure in the 5, 10, 20, or even 30 sexually active bed bugs living in your home at any given time. The numbers are staggering, and it becomes all too easy to see how a small incursion can become a full-scale bed bug infestation in a very short time indeed.
How Often do Bed Bug Eggs Hatch?
Even though female bed bugs typically lay eggs daily that doesn’t mean that those same eggs hatch on the same schedule. On average, it typically takes up to 10 days for a bed bug egg to hatch. Having said that, however, hatching times are greatly influenced by the local environment. In a warmer environment the eggs may hatch sooner. In a cooler environment it may take longer. As a general rule it is safe to say that bed bug eggs hatch between 7 to 12 days after the female lays them.
This means that you can have several generations of bed bugs hatching every month in a sort of staggered production line of egg laying and hatching. You can see just how quickly a home or office can become overrun by a colony of bed bugs.
From Birth to Infestation
Within 6 months a single pregnant bed bug can start an infestation with thousands of bed bugs. As soon as the eggs hatch the nymphs will begin looking for their first blood meal, beginning their own life cycle and ultimately going through the five stages of molting until they become adults. As the number of adult bed bugs increases, so does the number of fertile new females. Each adult female enters their own breeding cycle and the number of active bed bugs in the home increases exponentially.
Swift Action is the Key
As you can see it doesn’t take long for a bed bug infestation to take hold in your home or workplace. This is why it is so important to act quickly if you begin to notice any of the telltale signs of bed bugs in your home or office.
If you believe you may have the beginnings of a bed bug infestation you need to contact a professional bed bug inspection and removal service. The sooner you act the better the chance of stopping a growing infestation in its tracks. You should also be prepared to follow up any treatment with further inspections to ensure that any stray bed bug eggs aren’t hatching and leading to a re-infestation. Remember, the key to successfully eradicating a bed bug infestation is to act quickly and decisively before the colony can get out of control.