Bed bug infestations were common in the U.S before World War II. With the improvement in hygiene and extensive use of DDT in the 1940s and 1950s, bed bugs almost vanished. The people living in the U.S and even the pest control professionals had never seen a bed bug until recently. Bed bugs persisted in some parts of the world including Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. It is due to international travel and immigration that has caused bed bugs to reemerge in the U.S.
Bed bugs have started appearing in homes, hotels, schools, dormitories, shelters, public transport, and laundries and in rental furniture. Bed bug infestation is a growing concern in the U.S and people are desperately looking for ways to get rid of them.
Eradicating bed bugs is not as easy as getting rid of any other pests. Bed bugs are resistant pests that demand a more powerful and more extensive extermination method.
Table of Contents
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are fairly small insects with an oval-shaped, flat body. An adult bed bug is usually 5 mm in length. They might be mistaken for cockroaches, carpet beetles, ticks or other small insects. They have a characteristic reddish-brown color. They have hairy bodies. Bed bugs do not jump or fly. They rather crawl fast over the walls, floors, ceilings, and other surfaces.
Bed bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded creatures. Their favorite host is human. They are light brown in color before they have fed, but after feeding, they appear rust colored or dark reddish brown. In short, bed bugs are blood-sucking insects that are not just scary but a nuisance that does not go away easily.
How Do Bed Bugs Reproduce?
Male and female bed bugs mate through a process called “traumatic insemination”. Mating occurs with the male bed bug stabbing the female bed bug in the abdomen by the male reproductive organ, which is specialized and hardened. The male bed bug ejaculates anywhere in the abdomen of the female bed bug. The male gametes travel to female gametes or ovaries where fertilization takes place. After fertilization has taken place, a female bed bug can carry fertilized eggs for 5 to 7 weeks.
Bed Bug Eggs
A female bed bug starts laying eggs 3 or more days after she has had a meal of blood. A female bed bug lays an average of 3 to 8 eggs a week. Female bed bugs have the capability of laying as many as 12 eggs per day.
Eggs are laid in places where there is a minimal disturbance. Most commonly, the female bed bug lays eggs in cracks or crevices near bed frames, carpet linings or baseboards. The eggs are coated with an adhesive naturally to ensure that they stay in place.
Hatching of Eggs
Bed bug eggs hatch in about 6 to 16 days. After the eggs hatch, the young bed bugs or the nymphs start feeding immediately. Bed bugs can go long periods without having fed. The life span of a bed bug is about a year to year and a half. Bed bugs can produce 3 generations in one year.
Frequency of Mating
Female bed bugs that have mated several times usually lay lesser eggs as compared to a bed bug that has had time for recuperation. According to studies, the healing process is necessary for a female bed bug to be able to produce more eggs. A female who has mated once will produce 25% more eggs than the one that has mated many times.
Due to this reason, many female bed bugs move to other places with a guaranteed food source before laying eggs. They look for places where there is a lack of mates. Also, the capability of a female bed bug to keep her eggs for 5 to 7 weeks provides her enough time to travel and find a suitable place to lay eggs.
Bed Bug Egg Pictures
How Many Eggs Do Bed Bugs Lay?
As mentioned earlier, female bed bugs are capable of laying 12 eggs per day. On average, they lay 1 to 7 eggs each day. They end up laying 200 to 250 eggs during their entire life which is about one year. The eggs hatch in 6 to 16 days.
When nymphs emerge from eggs, they are translucent. They immediately start their search for a meal. Once they feed, they undergo molting 5 times after which they become reddish brown in color. Molting is shedding of skin. Nymphs cannot reproduce as long as they have fully matured. A female bed bug may mate with its offspring after the nymph has matured.
Conditions for Egg Production
The primary condition for egg production is the availability of food source. The reason bed bugs reside near the host is to have easy access to a blood source they can feed on repeatedly. The more the quantity of meal a female bed bug takes the more eggs it will produce. If she has access to a reliable food source, she can produce more batches of eggs. A female bed bug is capable of producing 5 to 20 eggs from a single meal.
Where Do Bed Bugs Lay Eggs?
Bed bug infestation is most commonly found in beds. They prefer residing and laying eggs in a place which is close to the host so that feeding is easier. The places closest to the host are the bed frames, bed sheets, and the mattresses. Bed bugs lay eggs in the bed or any furniture that is close to the bed.
Bed bug eggs are sticky so they can easily adhere to the mattress, bed sheet or the curtains. Bed bugs prefer laying eggs in places where there will be the least disturbance. For example, if you usually sleep on the right side of the bed, the bed bug is likely to lay eggs under the pillow on the left side which has been left undisturbed. Bed bugs are found in clusters. Bed bug eggs are found in places with bed bugs, their droppings and bed bug shells.
The primary harborage for bed bugs is near the host. Their preference to live near the host is conditional; that is, only if they know they will be undisturbed. Bed bugs are attracted to the scent of carbon dioxide that the humans exhale. They can only detect the signs of the presence of a warm-blood creature from a very close distance, hence their preference to stay close to the host. Also, blood feedings become easier for bed bugs when they stay close to a meal source.
If the bed bug infestation is severe, overcrowding of bed bugs near the host may occur. In such a situation, bed bugs move to places where there is a lesser crowd. These places are usually about 5 feet from the bed. These places include the carpet, the neighboring walls, and drawer joints.
If the infestation is extremely severe with the 5 feet radius from the bed being overcrowded as well, bed bugs may move further ahead to seek refuge. These places include electrical sockets, appliances, sofas, and other such furniture. Bed bugs are so tiny that they can accommodate in any place that is as thick as a credit card.
If we talk about conditions in which bed bugs can live, they can live in any condition in which their host can live. It is as simple as that!
Appearance of Bed Bug Eggs
If you are wondering how do bed bug eggs look like, you have your answer right here. Bed bug eggs are transparent in color but their shades may range from transparent to white. Bed bug eggs are about 1 millimeter long. Eggs are most commonly found sticking to wooden or fabric surfaces and less commonly on plastic or metallic ones.
Fresh bed bug eggs appear shiny due to a sticky substance that is secreted with the eggs. This sticky substance ensures that the eggs remain in place, stuck to the surface. Empty egg shells look like eggs but the difference is that they are not shiny and they appear more flattened. You might be wondering how you can see bed bug eggs. Empty eggs can be seen by the naked eye. If you see empty egg shells, you should realize that the bed bug infestation in your home is growing.
Bed Bugs in Hair
When we say bed bugs can reside anywhere, we literally mean anywhere. As gross as it sounds, we hate telling you that you can get bed bugs in your hair. However, you may feel better when we tell you that bed bugs are not capable of navigating through hair like lice. They may enter your hair, but they won’t stay there for long. Because of the way the bodies of bed bugs are built, they fail to navigate through human hair.
Bed Bug Eggs in Hair
As previously mentioned, bed bugs can hide in your hair. When they can hide, they can also lay eggs in your hair. But they most probably won’t do that. If the bed bug infestation in your hair is large, you may observe a bad odor coming from your hair. You may also notice blood stains on your pillow.
Bed bug bites on your scalp may feel bumpy and itchy. Bed bug bites are often observed to be in a straight row. You may feel a burning sensation in your hair when you apply shampoo while you bath. If you are certain that you have bed bugs in your hair, you should apply shampoo and comb through your hair regularly to make sure the bed bugs and bed bug eggs are removed.
If you feel that shampoo isn’t doing any good, you can try other remedies like rubbing alcohol or a combination of rubbing alcohol and almond. Washing your hair with water as hot as you can bear can drive the bed bugs away and even destroy the bed bug eggs.
Signs and Symptoms of Bed Bug Infestation
If you have a bed bug infestation, there are some obvious signs. Below is a list of signs that are characteristic of bed bug infestation.
- Waking up with itchy red spots:
bed bugs bite on any part of the skin that is exposed. Bed bug bites are small, red and itchy. The site of the bite may also be inflamed. Not all people get red, itchy bumps on their skin. It is important that you inspect your home regularly because if you are not getting any visible bites, it does not mean you might not have a bed bug infestation.
- Bed bug bites are in a line:
a bed bug usually bites in such a way that you get red, itchy bumps in a row. Bed bugs bite with a distinctive pattern. This helps you differentiate between bites from bed bugs and bites of fleas or mites.
- Unexplained musty odor:
bed bugs release pheromones. When the infestation is large, the amount of pheromones being released is fairly large too which causes a musty odor in your house. If you feel your house smells different, it may indicate a bed bug infestation.
- Blood stains on bed sheets:
bed bugs feed on human blood. They might leave behind the drippings from a bite on your bed sheets. You may roll over a bed bug in your sleep which leaves behind a prominent blood stain on the bed.
- Rust colored spots on the mattress:
bed bugs leave behind their fecal exudates on beddings. If you observe rust colored stains on your mattress or your bed sheets, you are most likely to have a bed bug infestation.
- Dark spots on your walls:
bed bugs can leave fecal stains beneath your wallpaper or on the walls. If you find dark, rusty stains on your walls, brace yourself for a bed bug infestation.
- Finding a collection of bed bug shells:
if you have a bed bug infestation, you may find bed bug egg shells or mottled skin shreds near your headboard, along with the sides of tour mattress, below the cushions on your sofas or near other wooden furniture. Bed bugs favor fabric and wood more than plastic or metal.
- White spots on furniture joints:
if you find any white spots, fairly small in size on the joints of your furniture, you should inspect the rest of your furniture and home for bed bug infestation. Tiny, white spots usually indicate small bugs or bed bug eggs.
Getting Rid of Bed Bug Eggs
Most of our focus is on bed bugs. However, if we do not treat bed bug eggs, the infestation will never end. If bed bug eggs are left behind, they will hatch and the nymphs will continue feeding on blood, maturing and reproducing which is something you would not want. You should employ methods that treat both live bed bugs and their eggs.
Many methods of killing bed bugs are available but you might be thinking how to kill bed bug eggs? Bed bug eggs can be killed by various methods, which are listed below.
Heavy Duty Dry Steamers:
Heat is most likely to kill bed bugs and their eggs. A heavy duty dry steamer can be used to reach all cracks, holes, and crevices where bed bugs may have laid eggs. With the help of a hose and other attachments of a dry steamer, you can reach all curves and depressions on furniture.
Portable Heaters and Fans:
Portable heaters and fans can also be used. With the help of this equipment, the temperature of air in a room is gradually increased to 120 – 130°F. Sensors are placed strategically that monitor the temperature. They can be used to de-infest areas like bedrooms, livings rooms, furnishings, and even the entire dwelling. This method of de-infestation does not damage any household items and kills the bed bugs and their eggs. If the temperature is being maintained at 45°C, the treatment takes up to 15 hours while it takes only 30 minutes if the temperature is 48°C.
Before methods that make use of high temperatures can be implemented, some preparations have to be made. These preparations include removal of aerosol cans, medications, indoor plants, and anything else that is heat sensitive. Heat treatment does not have any residual effect. It is recommended that the residents take with them as few belongings as possible because their belongings may become a source of bed bug re-infestation.
The biggest benefit of heat treatments is that the bed bug treatment occurs in one go, rather than over days or weeks. To make sure that no residual bed bugs remain, it is better to apply some insecticides.
Heat treatments can kill bed bugs and their eggs in just one day. They are more costly than conventional bed bug treatments and require specialized training.
Extreme low temperatures can kill bed bugs and their eggs by freezing them. Extremely cold water which is well below the freezing point (-32°F) can be used for washing clothes and bedding. Other items that cannot be washed can be placed in a freezing environment for about 30 days.
Carbon Dioxide Dry Snow
A freezing technique that is less common and more expensive is also available. This technique uses carbon dioxide cylinders. By converting carbon dioxide into dry snow and spraying over the area, the bed bugs and their eggs freeze to death. Ideally, the snow vapor should evaporate within 30 seconds to maximize the rate at which the bed bug body eliminates heat. The extensive heat loss f is what kills the bed bug eggs and the live bed bugs.
It leaves no residue behind. It creates no mess or stains. It is safe to use on most of the surfaces at home. The snow can easily penetrate into cracks and crevices, making sure all bed bugs and eggs are killed and eliminated from every hiding spot. This freezing technique does not damage furniture. Being non-toxic, it’s safe for use in any setting.
To make sure no bed bugs or eggs remain, pairing the technique with insecticides gives sure extermination of bed bugs and their eggs.
Diatomaceous earth is not specifically made to kill bed bugs. However, it can kill bed bugs, their eggs, and any bugs that are exposed to it. It kills the bed bugs by drying them. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth in any corners in the cracks and crevices and any place you suspect bed bugs might be present. Unlike sprays, their effect remains as long as you don’t clean it off. It is inexpensive and effective.
Numerous sprays are available that claim to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs. However, insecticides cannot help you get rid of these pests when used alone. As long as you don’t use bed bug killing sprays in conjuncture with any other effective technique, bed bug sprays won’t help you significantly.
Bed bug infestation is getting common in the U.S. If your neighbors complain about having bed bugs in their homes, you should be alert. Bed bugs can easily travel to neighboring houses. Having come to know about bed bug infestation in your neighborhood, you should start taking precautions beforehand to avoid getting the nuisance in your own home. You better be safe than sorry. Bed bug infestation is something that is not easy to get rid of. Taking precautions is the smartest thing you can do to keep your house protected from a bed bug infestation.