Bed Bug Life Cycle

[Updated for 2021]

bed bugs at all stages of development

Your interest is in the bed bug reproductive cycle. That’s what you are fighting against, getting ahead of that bed bug reproduction.

I’ve covered the important and basic bed bug life cycle information here. There is a wealth of factual information on the internet that goes into excruciating detail about bed bug reproduction, feeding, etc., available at many universities and extensions.

How bed bugs act and reproduce doesn’t change so I’m giving you the critical information you need – their reproductive cycle. I’ve included links if you want to delve deeper. note: There is ongoing bed bug research, and exciting new discoveries are being made that may result in treatment solutions and bed bug

Remember, they’re not seasonal. Once they have a meal source (you) they’re not going anywhere. They have to die, all of them. But you can do it.

I won the bed bug war, so I KNOW you can. I’m not a hero, just determined.

photo credit: stephen_ausmus_usda, bed bugs all stages

What if there is only one bed bug? Can one bed bug lay eggs?

If the one bed bug is pregnant, females can continue laying eggs for up to 6-10 weeks without feeding. The male and female hatched eggs (nymphs) will begin mating and laying eggs after 5-8 weeks (approximately)

How often do bed bugs need to mate to lay eggs?

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 – for weeks, even without a meal.

Does temperature stop bed bugs from mating or laying eggs.

Temperature can affect how many eggs are laid and how frequently. Eggs can take from 7 to 15 days to hatch, depending on environmental conditions such as temperature. Unless it is hot enough to kill bed bug and eggs, they may slow down but not much. If it’s cold enough to stop bed bugs, you are probably also very cold.

Females will mate with any available male including siblings, children or parents. If you have a pregnant female she will mate with her male offspring as soon as possible and will continue throughout the rest of her bed bug life cycle.

Females can continue laying eggs for up to 6-10 weeks without feeding.

Temperature can affect how many eggs are laid and how frequently.

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

Bed Bug Eggs

Baby bed bugs, also called nymphs will feed approximately 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 evolve 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 2-7 eggs a week. 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.

Does temperature affect 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)

More effective pesticides have been and continue to be developed. Many like the fungus derived biopesticide. The biopesticide is a non-toxic, ready-to-use oil formula of fungal spores called Beauveria bassiana. One application will last three months making it an excellent choice for active and preventative bed-bug treatments. Pesticides labeled for bed bugs kill bed bug eggs, with the exception of Bedlam.

More deliciously nerdy bed bug facts from Cornell University Bed Bug FAQ

  • Life Stages: Eggs hatch into nymphs. Newly hatched nymphs are tiny—about 1/16th of an inch.
  • Nymphs—which look like small adults—become adults in 5 weeks. They go through 5 molts to reach adult size—meaning they shed their old, smaller skin 5 times. They must feed before each molt.
  • Females can produce 5-7 eggs per week, laying up to 500 in a lifetime.
  • Bed bugs grow fastest and lay most eggs at about 80°F.
  • They feed only on blood.
  • They feed when people are sleeping or sitting quietly, often when it’s dark.
  • They seek shelter in cracks and crevices when not feeding.
  • They poop out “blood spots.” Spots look like dots made by a fine felt-tipped marker. You’d see them near where they fed and near their hideouts.
  • Adults can live over a year without a meal.
  • Adults, nymphs and eggs can survive sustained heat and cold if given time to adjust.
  • Can be found in the cleanest of clean places. But clutter makes them harder to get rid of.
  • They have no “grooming behavior”—meaning that insecticides meant to be swallowed by roaches and flies won’t work on bed bugs.