Bed Bug Lifecycle, Stages and Appearance

Summary

The Bedbug life cycle can be as short as 21 days under ideal conditions, but in most environments, this process will take from 5 to 8 weeks.. This assumes the availability of a warm blooded host such as a human or pet, and temperatures at 86F (30C). From egg to adulthood a bedbug will pass through 5 instars or stages with the last or sixth stage being adulthood. They requires a blood meal to move from stage to stage. A bedbug will live up to 316 days under the conditions described. If no host is available an adult can live just over a year without feeding.

Overview

The Bedbug life cycle starts with an egg. After birth the bedbug will move through 5 instars or stages, ending with adulthood.  While they are moving through the 5 stages they are referred to as a nymph.

In order to move from stage to stage during the lifecycle of a bedbug,  a bedbug needs to feed on a mammal. They prefer human blood, but will feed on other available animals such as a pet or bat. They can feed several times during each stage and as much as 1x per day. As the bedbug moves from each stage or instar they will molt as they grow.

A bedbug will impale its human host at night to withdraw blood, although if a bedbug has gone without feeding, they might try and feed during the day.  A nymph will look for a blood meal right after hatching from an egg.

Room temperate plays a role in how fast bedbugs move through the life cycle.  If the temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees F, the bedbug takes approximately 4 to 5 weeks at 83-90 degrees F to move from egg, through the juvenile or nymph stages, and to adulthood.  Three generations of bedbugs could be born in a year. The lifespan of an adult is 10 to  11 months, although they could live for a year without feeding.

chart showing bed bug appearance at each stage of ifecycleLifecycle of Bedbugs Growth Chart

Bedbug Life cycle - Time to Complete 1 Generation

The rate that bedbugs move through their lifecycle is based on the temperature of the room they area living in. Higher temperatures (80 degrees F) slow down bedbug growth.  Bedbugs and their eggs are killed at 114 degrees F.

Graph depicting time to complete 1 generation of bed bugs, from egg to adultDays To Complete One Generation of Bedbugs

BedBug egg - Stage 1

A female bedbug will lay 1 to 3 eggs per day and 200 in a lifetime.  The bedbug eggs stick to areas where they are placed and are therefore difficult to remove with a vacuum.  The eggs are approximately 1/16 inch and are oval.  They are white/yellow in color.

Bedbug eggs take approximately six to ten days to hatch.  

Here's a great video showing a bedbug hatching from a bedbug egg. 


Bedbug Video - Bed Bug Hatching from Egg

Magnified picture of bedbug eggs featuring three eggsPicture of Magnified Bedbug Eggs

The bedbug eggs are the size of a pin head, are white/yellow in color and oval as shown below. 

Photograph showing bed bugs eggs on a surfacePicture of Bedbug Eggs on a Surface

Bedbug nymph- Stage 2

Bedbug nymphs feeding

As mentioned, after birth, a "baby bedbug" is referred to as a nymph.  These nymphs move through 5 stages and molt as they move from stage to stage. In order to move from stage to stage nymphs require a blood meal. 

Here's video of a colony of bedbug nymphs and adults:


Bed Bug Nymph Video and Adults in Colony

BedBug Adult- Stage 3

Adult bedbugs live as long as 316 days. They can survive several months without feeding, but need to feed in order to reproduce. As aforementioned, an adult female lays an average of 200 eggs in her lifetime. 

Collage of pictures of adult bedbugs, including pictures of male and female bedbugs and an adult bedbug on skinClockwise from top left: Adult bedbug on skin, bedbug after feeding, male and female adults


brochures

 These free brochure provide additional information on the bedbug lifecycle.

Brochure on bed bug biology and behavior.
Available in a free Ebook

Brochure on bed bug facts and lifecycle.
Available in a free Ebook

Questions and answers

Ask a Question or Share Your Bed Bug Experience With Others

Do you have a question or great story about bed bugs? Share it!

[ ? ]

Upload A Bed Bug Picture (optional)[ ? ]

 

Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

 submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said About Bed Bugs

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Bed Bug Nymphs In Our Apartment 
Hi, I have been suffering with bed bugs in my apartment for quite a while. I demanded that the landlord send an exterminator, which they did. He came …

Bed Bugs in Hair Not rated yet
I rented my motel room,took a nap straight away. Woke and got dinner back to the motel to shower. Then laid on the bed to read and saw a bed bug crawl …

Click here to write your own.

references

John F. Anderson PHD
Distinguished Scientist
CT Agricultural Experiment Station

Connecticut Coalition Against Bed Bugs
CT Agricultural Experiment Station










Click here to learn more