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Bed Bug Life Cycle

Female bed bugs must be fertilized by a male to lay eggs. The female only needs to be fertilized once every 6-8 weeks. She will lay eggs every day after fertilization.

Females can continue laying eggs for up to 6-10 weeks without feeding. Temperature can affect how many eggs are layed and how frequently.

Eggs can take from 7 to 15 days to hatch, depending on enviromental conditions such as temperature.

Bed Bug Eggs

bed bug eggsBaby bed bugs or nymphs will feed aproximately five times before becoming an adult.

Newly hatched bed bugs can live for several months in ideal conditions without a first meal.

Each meal (3-7 days apart) will be followed by a "molt" of their skin.

Each time they molt, they graduate to the next size, until they reach adulthood. That is when females will begin to lay eggs if she can mate.


When a female reaches adulthood she is ready to begin laying 3-5 eggs every day. Females can lay between 200 and 500 eggs in their lifetime.



From Purdue University Entomology Extension

Bed bugs develop from egg to adult via a process called "gradual metamorphosis." This means the last larval stage develops directly into an adult without passing through a non-feeding pupal stage. There are five larval stages, and each one requires a blood meal before molting into the next life cycle stage. Both adult male and female bed bugs feed on blood and take repeated blood meals during their lives. Females require blood for the development of eggs.

The five larval stages are completed in about a month under suitable conditions of temperature, humidity, and availability of hosts for blood meals. Larvae can survive inside dwellings for several months without a blood meal, but they do not molt into the next life cycle stage until they engorge on blood. Adults can survive even longer under the same conditions, but, again, do not develop eggs unless they feed on blood.

Male and female adults usually feed every 3-4 days and become engorged with blood in about 10-15 minutes.

Bed bugs detect carbon dioxide emitted from warm-blooded animals and respond to warmth and moisture as they approach the potential host. On humans, they tend to feed on exposed surfaces such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. Again, the bites are painless, and the host typically is not disturbed while bed bugs feed.

How Fast Can Bed Bugs Move

Adults can crawl about 4 ft/minute

Nymphs can crawl about 1 ft/minute

That's 2½ minutes for an adult to make it from a TV stand to the pillow, 10 minutes for a nymph (University of Texas)

Temperature affects the bed bug life span

At 98.6 F (37° C), females live an average of 32 days while males live an average of 29 days (Johnson 1942, Usinger 1966)

At 50 F (10° C), females live an average of 425 days while males live an average of 401 days (Johnson 1942, Usinger 1966)

Not many pesticides labeled for bed bugs kill bed bug eggs, with the exception of Bedlam.

Bed Bug Resources

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs Portland

The EPA's Website on Bed Bugs

What’s Working for Bed Bug Control in Multifamily Housing

Bed Bugs Clearly Visible on Screw Head Under Chair (photo)
From Entomologist Lou Sorkin

Excellent Advice if You Have Bed Bugs

Pest World's Bed Bug Resource List

University of Minnesota: Bed Bugs in Residences

Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities

The Bed Bug Registry

National Bed Bug Summit

Multnomah County Public Health listserve forum

Harvard School of Public Health Bed Bug Fact Sheet

Bed Bug Monitor Devices

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