Having to deal with bed bugs that get on your pet or luggage has probably led you to ask, “How long do bed bugs live?”
The main purpose of this article is to explain how long bed bugs survive and the life cycle of bed bugs from baby bed bugs to mature bed bugs.
There are several stages in the life cycle of bed bugs. Eggs are laid by a female bed bug in groups of one to 50, and they take between six and seventeen days to hatch
Baby bed bugs are known as nymphs. A nymph will go through five phases of growth before it becomes an adult, shedding its skin each time, according to the EPA.
They start life at 1.5 millimeters (the thickness of a U.S. penny) and grow to about 4.5 millimeters (the size of a medium-to-large pearl).
In their nymph stages, bed bugs are ready to eat. Dogs, cats, rodents, and chickens will be bitten by them, but they primarily feed off of people.
A bed bug can last up to a year or longer without feeding if the temperatures are ideal.
Despite this, bed bugs live relatively short lives, but they do lead active lives, including aggressive mating.
You should contact a pest management professional if you suspect that you have bed bugs.
How Many Stages are in the Bed Bug Life Cycle?
Bed bugs start off as small eggs, just 1 mm in length. With the naked eye, it can be challenging to see these small white specks.
On light-colored surfaces like cloth sheets and mattress covers, they are almost invisible.
Eggs have a sticky coating that allows them to attach easily to bedsheets, mattresses, and even the fur of your household pets!
Therefore, you might not realize you have an infestation until they are all over your house.
An egg of a bed bug takes about one week to hatch at room temperature.
A bed bug nymph is born when the egg hatches.
(That’s a nymph, spelled just like the water fairies in children’s books).
The bed bug will remain in the nymph phase for five rounds of molting.
Molting occurs when the old shell is shed and a new one is hardened. They eventually reach an adult size of about 5.5 mm.
For those conducting a bed bug count, there are three main phases:
But, don’t be fooled.
Nymphs (baby bed bugs) aren’t harmless creatures.
You should not let their small size fool you; they are just as likely to bite as their adult counterparts.
How Long is the Bed Bug Life Cycle?
From the time a baby bed bug becomes an adult, it undergoes five cycles of molting.
During the molting phase, the bed bug consumes a lot of human blood.
For 10 days, it grows larger until it sheds its shell like a snail or crab.
When a baby bed bug reaches sexual maturity, it will begin to lay eggs of its own after 50 to 60 days.
Eventually, the bed bug will die from natural causes within a few months.
(Depending on the surrounding conditions).
What is Their Lifespan?
After the fifth round of molting, an adult bed bug has achieved its full size and will live on average about 6 to 12 months.
Yes, of course… under laboratory conditions.
(In a highly controlled environment).
A bed bug’s life expectancy is usually much shorter in the real world. A number of factors contribute to this.
It seems they do better when:
- They live in cooler climates
- They have an abundant food source
- These insects are surrounded by stable environmental conditions
It may be because of this that the eastern United States contains many of the states with the worst bed bug infestations.
Pictures of the Bed Bug Life Cycle
Here’s a video that describes the life cycle of bed bugs in detail. During its lifetime, this creature will go through these stages of development (from left to right).
Bed bugs are generally characterized by the following characteristics:
- About ¼ inch in size.
- Long and brown, with a flat-shaped body (if not fed recently).
- Balloon-like and rounded, reddish-brown, and elongated (if fed recently).
- They contain a beak with 3 segments and antennas.
- They have a musty odor (coming from glands that produce histamine).
This image shows what a bed bug bite looks like up close.
Bed bugs tend to have the following characteristics when they are young:
- About 1/12 inch in size.
- Translucent (white-yellowish color).
- Can sometimes be invisible to the naked eye.
Do Bed Bugs Start Out As Larvae
When bed bugs hatch, they are called bed bug larvae. Though bed bugs are small, their larvae are much smaller.
They have the appearance of a single grain of sand and can only be seen under a microscope.
During the early stages of bed bug development, larvae bite and feed, so if you are covered in bites, you were likely bitten at several different stages.
When you cannot see any adult bed bugs in your bedroom, it’s likely that larvae have moved from a neighboring infestation.
It is possible for a baby bed bug to crawl through the walls and infest you through a neighboring apartment or hotel room.
What is the Bed Bug Life Cycle Without Food?
A source of food is essential to growing big and strong for bed bugs, just like humans.
Just because your house is vacant and dormant for a period of time does not mean you can get rid of the infestation.
Having said that, bedbugs are able to survive without food for an extended period of time.
Some adults have survived for more than 400 days without food at low temperatures in a lab setting.
Unlike adults, nymphs, who are smaller and weaker than adults, have a much harder time without food.
To grow well, a nymph needs to feed at least once a week.
They can then begin molting into their next stage and reach sexual maturity.
In the absence of food, a bed bug will enter a state similar to hibernation.
Bed bugs develop a “hunger bubble” in their gut during this phase to avoid starvation. The hunger bubble helps bed bugs survive, especially the larger ones.
The smaller nymphs will starve about 50% faster than their larger counterparts.
How Long Does it Take For Bed Bugs to Hatch?
In most cases, bed bug eggs hatch within six to ten days after the female lays them. Upon hatching, newly emerged baby bed bugs will immediately begin feeding.
Although young nymphs can survive for a few weeks without feeding, they need multiple blood meals as they evolve into different life stages.
It is possible for mature bed bugs to survive without feeding for longer periods of time.
(up to 18 months if the conditions are right).
It is most common for bed bugs to live anywhere from two to four months.
A bed bug infestation with multiple generations (eggs, nymphs, adults) indicates you have a severe infestation.
Bedbugs of all ages can be found and seen by the naked eye in a seasoned reproducing population.
It is important to know that compared with other insects…
The reproduction rate of bed bugs is actually slower.
Females can produce up to six eggs per day as adults. To put that into perspective, the common housefly lays 500 eggs over three to four days.
It will take a bed bug between 5 and 6 weeks to grow into an adult as long as it has a consistent source of food.
How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In….?
Let’s take a look at how long bed bugs live in certain environments.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live in Cold?
When the temperature drops, bed bugs can survive for long periods of time in certain climates.
As cold-blooded creatures, bed bugs may enter a hibernation phase if they’re living in a particularly cold climate (below 55 degrees F)….
Providing them with a one-year lifespan.
In a cold environment, their metabolism is slowed, which allows them to conserve energy until the conditions are better suited to feeding.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live in a Plastic Bag?
Bed bugs will survive in a plastic bag just like in any other environment without easy access to food. Putting bed bugs in sealed bags is a good way to isolate them, but it will not suffocate them.
It is possible for bed bugs to survive at oxygen levels below 1%, and even a sealed bag can allow enough oxygen to keep them alive.
So what you’re essentially doing here is just cutting off their food source.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live in An Empty House?
The answer will be similar to that of a plastic bag since it relates to starving bed bugs.
The time it takes for bed bugs to die from starvation will vary depending on certain conditions, but these creatures are generally pretty hardy.
Whether it be:
- Hibernating through the cold.
- Losing much of their weight.
- Battling heat waves.
Somehow, these insects manage to survive. The following are a few things that make bed bugs the hardest bed bugs to kill, according to exterminators.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live After Spraying?
When your home is professionally sprayed with insecticide, any bugs directly hit should die within two to three hours.
Even in some of the most comprehensive applications…
There are some bed bugs that are capable of surviving. The chances are that some bed bugs, nymphs, or eggs will be missed during the initial application.
For this reason,…
Multiple applications are needed to eradicate all bed bugs.
Those eggs that are missed can remain dormant for as long as one month.
Check out our complete guide on bed bug sprays if you’re interested in purchasing an insecticide.
What is the Gestation Period For Bed Bugs?
You probably wonder now how long it will take for the next round of bed bugs to hatch in your house now that you know how long it takes for a bed bug to grow to full size.
Here’s the thing…
Bugs, turtles, and birds mate in a similar way to bed bugs.
Females lay oval eggs along cracks and crevices in your home after mating.
During their lifespan, bed bugs can lay an astonishing 200-250 eggs.
Before hatching, each egg gestates for about 6 to 10 days.
That means that bed bug infestations can spread at an alarming rate.
How Many Babies Do Bed Bugs Have?
Bed bugs have only a one-year lifespan, but during that time they can have many babies.
In their lifetime, they lay 200-250 eggs, a large percentage of which hatch.
Since adult bed bugs can have babies all the time and live about a year on average, the math works out to about five to six eggs per day per female adult bed bug.
Getting rid of them is difficult when they reproduce so rapidly.
Take Legal Action After an Infestation
Hopefully, you have gained a little insight into how an infestation can progress from a single bug to a major infestation.
You should take steps to prevent bed bugs from entering your home in the first place.
Sometimes, however, someone else’s negligence allows them to enter your house.
You may have a legal case if you have encountered a bed bug infestation while staying at a hotel or resort or are renting from a landlord who knowingly placed you in an infested unit.
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