If you find bed bugs in your home your first instinct is to get rid of them as quickly as possible. But to fully eradicate a bed bug infestation you first have to understand what you’re fighting. And to do that you need to know a little about the life cycle of one of the country’s most pervasive pests.
Chances are if you’re seeing several generations of bed bugs in your home then the infestation has been brewing for some time. So let’s talk a little about the various stages of a bed bug’s life, how quickly they reproduce, and how often they feed.
The 7 Stages of Life
The life cycle of the bed bug is comprised of 7 major stages ranging from egg to adult. In order to know if there are several generations of bed bug infesting your home you must first be able to identify the these various stages.
Egg – Bed bugs begin there lives in an egg. These eggs are roughly one millimeter in length and have a milky white color. They can be hard to spot with the naked eye. Once a bed bug hatches from its egg it will pass through 6 nymph stages as it makes its way to adulthood.
1st Stage Nymph – A freshly hatched 1st stage nymph is typically about 1.5 millimeters in length. As soon as they escape their eggs nymphs must begin to feed. That is their primary purpose throughout the multiple nymph stages. It only when they reach adulthood that they will begin to reproduce.
2nd Stage Nymph – In ideal circumstances (moderate temperature and ample food) a bed bug will spend about a week between nymph stages. At the end of each stage they molt, shedding their skin as they develop. 2nd stage bed bug nymphs are typically 2 millimeters long.
3rd Stage Nymph – After another molting bed bugs move into their 3rd stage. They grow to about 2.5 millimeters as they continue to feed.
4th Stage Nymph – At this stage bed bugs typically grow to approximately 3 millimeters in length. It’s worth noting that each molting will leave behind a shed skin. Bed bug inspectors and exterminators often use these husks to create a timeline of the infestation.
5th Stage Nymph – Finally the bed bug reaches the fifth and final nymph stage. After this molting they will typically grow to approximately 4.5 millimeters long.
Adult – It takes roughly 5 weeks for a freshly hatched bed bug to reach adulthood. At this point they begin to breed and reproduce. The average bed bug will live about four to six months. But it is not unheard of for bed bugs to live up to year in ideal circumstances.
How Fast Do Bed Bugs Reproduce?
An adult female bed bug can lay between one and five eggs a day. It takes an average of two weeks for a bed bug age to hatch. Once hatched, the first stage nymph will immediately begin feeding.
As we’ve already seen it takes only five weeks for a baby bed bug mature into an adult. Five short weeks to go from baby to breeder. Within a short couple of months you could be looking at a massive population of bed bugs. Unless steps are taken to contain the infestation you could have tens of thousands of bed bugs in your home within six months.
A Growing Infestation
Bed bug infestations start off small. All it takes is a couple of strays to get the ball rolling. Once inside your home it doesn’t take long for a few stray bed bugs to begin feeding and reproducing. Looking at the numbers 5 eggs a day plus 5 weeks to maturity leads to a full scale infestations in just a few months.
This is why early detection and treatment is so important. By the time you begin noticing signs of bed bug activity the invasion has already been going on for some time. The best course of action is to tackle the problem head on, contacting a licensed bed bug inspection and removal service at your earliest opportunity. The longer you delay the larger the infestation will grow.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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