Bed Bug Facts


Although there have been periods of time where they were less prevalent and more localized, bed bugs have been around throughout the history of man. Some theories say their populations have ebbed and flowed in recent centuries due to the use of strong pesticides and the subsequent resistance the bugs formed against them making them less effective. Another factor at play in the spread of bed bugs today is ease of international travel as the world becomes more and more connected for good and, in the case of pests, for bad.


Bed bug life begins as an egg which takes about a week to hatch. Then they pass through 5 different nymph stages also called instars before becoming mature adults capable of reproduction

Between each stage, they feed and molt or shed their outer skin to grow larger; a process that takes around 5 days between each stage. With regular feedings, bed bugs live for about a year or less on average. Although there have been many articles that state that bed bugs can live for over a year even without feeding, there have been various studies that have shown under normal conditions and temperatures, most bugs would not survive more than 90 days without a meal. (That's still a long time!)


Bugs cannot mate/reproduce until they reach maturity as adults. The mating process is called traumatic insemination and it's just as terrible as it sounds, if not worse. I'll spare you the details but let's just say, it's enough to make you almost feel sympathy for the female...if it wasn't still a nasty bed bug. Females lay eggs and lots of them. She can lay 1 to 7 eggs per day and only needs to feed once every few weeks to keep up with that rate.


Some people think bed bugs are too small to see but that's not true. The most common size comparison for bed bugs is that of an apple seed. Early stage nymphs are difficult to spot but I've found several with a thorough inspection. When trying to identify a bed bug, start by counting legs. It should have 6.

The color could change depending on how recently it last fed, from bright red immediately after a meal to dark brown after that meal has been digested. If the bug has not fed for many days, it could even be an almost translucent yellow and may have just a darker black dot seen through its abdomen of the last remaining blood it has in its belly.

Their shape is mostly flat and round but after feeding, they could be more plump and have an elongated body. They do not have wings but have short antennae. Their abdomen is segmented and you can see the horizontal ridges on their back. Males have a pointy tip on their rear and females are more round. They have an almost non existent thorax so their body is mostly made up of 2 parts: a short head and long abdomen.

For pictures, go to the Identification Page


Where They Hide

One of the best advantages that we have over bed bugs is that they are very predictable. They want to be near their food source so unless you have an extensive infestation where they are forced to spread out, you're most likely going to find them right by where you sleep and rest, often within 3 to 5 feet of those sites.The most common place to find them is on or near the head of the bed. The reason for that is that they are attracted to our breath or CO2. They typically will not hide in pillows or sheets but prefer areas that are undisturbed like the headboard or box spring. 

They also will rarely be seen out in the open unless they are traveling to or from their food source. They don't like light or light colored surfaces because it leaves them vulnerable but if they are hungry and desperate enough, they will come out during the daylight and walk on any color surface. Tight spaces are ideal for bed bugs and they love to slip into a crack in a wooden piece of furniture, a seam in a mattress, or even a notch in a screw or gap in a metal frame. 

They are not limited to being around beds though. Anywhere that you sit or rest for long periods of time could be a target such as sofas and living room chairs and recliners.  A common place to find them on furniture is under the skirts and arm covers and in the seams. Again, they will rarely be on the cushions themselves since they are more exposed there and don't like unstable areas that frequently move. Other spots to check are end tables and bed stand tables or any furniture near the bed, wall outlets and picture frames, windows, or curtains next to a bed.

How they feed

Bed bugs can detect carbon dioxide from several feet away and body heat as well as human odors and will go on hunting trips to map out where there is nearby food. These trips usually happen in the early hours of the morning when we are in our deepest sleep but can happen any time of day depending on the availability of humans and their host's sleep schedule. Once they find a food source, they are typically going to set up their home (or harborage) nearby so it is easily accessible. Bugs try to avoid crawling on humans as much as possible so as not to be detected. Instead, it's been discovered that they walk up to their food source on a sheet or article of clothing as much as possible until right before they go in for their drink. 

Then, they will probe around to find the best spot to get the most blood. This often results in a couple of smaller bites followed by one large bite. Some refer to it as breakfast, lunch, and dinner and believe they bite in patterns of 3 but it could be 2 or 4 or 5 depending on how quickly they find the ideal feeding location. When they bite, they inject a tube into the skin along with an anticoagulant which prevents clotting and reduces sensitivity so we don't know when we're being bit. It's that agent that actually causes the majority of allergic reactions rather than the bite itself. They take over 5 minutes to engorge themselves before detaching and heading back to their hiding spot. Bed bugs don't feed every night. It takes almost a week before they can digest a meal and seek out another one.

How they move

Another advantage that we have going in our favor is that bed bugs can't fly or jump. They can only crawl. They do move surprisingly fast for their size but it is still a crawl. They don't come out of hiding often other than to eat and to mate. Occasionally they will explore if they have lost their food source (possibly someone moved out of) or the population has gotten too competitive and they want to find a less crowded spot. Pregnant females are particularly adventurous and prone to wander. They can travel across a room, through an apartment, across hallways in apartments, and in ceilings and through wall outlets and conduits. Once they find a good home, they often follow the same path to and from their host.


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