Many people throughout the United States are well-aware of the nightmare of frustration and irritation bed bugs can cause, however, few individuals understand the biology of these parasites. All the way back to when history was first recorded, bed bug infestations can find their way into even the most affluent of places. To really understand these persistent parasites, it’s important to really investigate its life cycle. By comprehending the biology of bed bugs, you’ll not only gain a better understanding of these pests, but also a better knowledge of how to effectively get rid of them.

What Bed Bugs Look Like | Identifying Bed Bugs

Close up cimex lectularius on corrugated recycle paper

Close up cimex lectularius on corrugated recycle paper

Bed bugs measure anywhere between 5 to 7 millimeters in length, roughly the size of an apple seed. Numerous bed bug sufferers first note the source of their bites by the scattered appearing of seed-sized insects within their couch or furniture. Before getting into the life cycle of bed bugs, let’s reflect on its physical characteristics. By knowing what these insects look like, it makes it easier to find out if you have an infestation on your hands. More than likely, you’ll notice adult bed bugs before finding their younger offspring, commonly called ‘nymphs’.



An adult bed bug is generally identified as:

  • Bed bugs that haven’t eaten, will be flat and oval-shaped. These insects are usually longer than they are wide, and if they aren’t fed they will be a brownish color.
  • If the bed bugs have already eaten, their body will resemble a more balloon-like shape, and may appear slightly more elongated. The bug’s color will also change from brown to red, because it is filled with your blood.
  • The appearance of bed bugs is easily identified as it feature three distinct parts or ‘segments’, which include: a four-part feeler, unusable wings and short whiskers that peculiarity a slight golden color.
  • An adult bed bug gives off an odor, which is typically described as a musty and sweet odor, due to a substance exhausted from its glands located on the lower portions of its body.
  • After a bed bug has ingested, they deposit smudges of feces throughout the areas in which they rest, such as along mattress seams or in the areas of rooms.

Young bed bugs, or nymphs, characterized by:

  • Young bed bugs usually measure 1.6 millimeters long.
  • Unlike adults, nymphs are colorless/ translucent; though when they have fed, their coloring will change to a reddish color.
  • As nymphs grow, they will shed their outer shells. Because of this, those suffering from an infestation will typically find empty shells throughout the most infested portions of their home, such as in bedrooms and living rooms.


Bed Bug Life Cycle | An Overview of a Bed Bug Life

Bed bugs are mostly active at night, which is when they come out of their nesting areas to feed on the blood of mammals; more specifically, human blood. Female bed bugs, after mating, can lay anywhere from 200 to 250 eggs throughout its lifetime. These eggs, usually measure 1/16th of an inch and may be found in seams and crevices of furniture. They generally hatch after 10 days.

Once the eggs hatch, the nymphs will begin to actively seek out a blood meal. Upon regular feedings, immature nymphs will go through five molting phases, in which they’ll shed its exoskeleton, before reading adulthood. Before a nymph provides the ability to molt, it must feed at least one time prior to each rise chapter. Regrettably, nymphs be able to live several months without a blood banquet. Likewise, adult bed bugs can live up to one year without a blood banquet. Under typical scenarios- with regular feedings- adult bed bugs can live up to 11 months.

The Life Cycle of a Bed Bug | Lifespan at a Glance

Illustration of thge Bed Bugs life cycle from egg to nymph to adult

Illustration of the Bed Bugs life cycle from egg to nymph to adult

The following six cycles is the basic overview of an average bed bug lifespan. Whether there were several variables that can affect this cycle, the majority of bed bugs will knowledge the following items:


  • Initial Cycle | Eggs- a bed bug egg will measure about 1 millimeter in length and will hatch after 10 days.
  • 1st Stage Nymph | Immediately upon incubating, bed bugs will measure 1.5 millimeter. To progress to the following stage, they must feed on blood.
  • 2nd Stage Nymph | After molting, the nymph will measure approximately 2 millimeters in length.
  • 3rd Stage Nymph | After undergoing another molting cycle, the nymph will grow to 2.5 millimeters.
  • 4th Stage Nymph | During this fourth stage, the nymph will grow to about 3 millimeters.
  • 5th Stage Nymph | This is the final stage of the nymph life cycle; the average bed bug will grow to approximately 4.5 millimeters.
  • Adult Phase | After one last molting stage, the nymph turns into an adult bed bug and can measure anywhere from 5 to 7 millimeters. With regular access to meals, an adult bed bug can live up to 11 months.


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