Bed Bug Biology

Bed Bug Biology & Behavior

What is a bed bug? •Adult bed bugs are flat with rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and are about 3/16” long or the size of an apple seed.

•A newly hatched bed bug is semi-transparent, light tan in color, and the size of a poppy seed.

•Eggs appear as tiny piece of rice.

•Bed bugs are most active between midnight and 5 am.

•Although, if they are hungry, they will feed during the day. Staying up all night and sleeping during day will not work, sleeping with lights on will not work. Sleeping in recliner in living room won’t work, they will find you.

•They can detect carbon dioxide from about 3 feet away and even less for heat.

•It is not well understood how bed bugs hiding in a closet are able to find a host located in a bed across the room. bed bugs are able to move very quickly and it is thought that they do a lot of wandering around before they are able to locate their food.

•Bed bugs can travel 100 feet a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

•Ideally, most bed bugs would like to aggregate near the host’s bed, on the mattress or in the boxsprings, when they are not feeding. However, this is not always possible in heavy infestations where bed bugs are crowded and many bed bugs have to seek refuge at distances several yards from the host.

•Can remain fully active at <45°F

•Female can lay up to 500 eggs in life time or about 5-7 eggs a week.

•Eggs can hatch in ideal conditions within 4 to 7 days.

•Total developmental process from egg to adult can take place in about 40 days at optimal temperatures.


•Bed bugs probe skin to find capillary space allows blood to flow into their bodies. This results in the host being punctures several times from the same bug.

•Feeding takes approximately 5-15 minutes.

•Piercing mouth part injects anesthetic and anticoagulant.

•May cause progressive allergic or symptomatic skin reactions to repeated bites.

•Bed bugs feed every 3-7 days.

•Most of the population is in the digesting state most of the time. This is important to remember during treatment. The majority of bed bugs are not out in open where they can be impacted by pesticides.

•Bed bugs can survive without a blood meal for over year. (1930-1940’s Europe).

•Recent lab study showed unfed bed bugs died within 70 days (lab setting).

•Well-fed adult bed bugs in ideal settings can live between 99 and 300 days in a laboratory.


•After feeding the male bed bug is very interested in mating.

•Female bed bugs are impregnated via traumatic insemination.

•Females often scatter after mating to avoid further abuse, deposit eggs.