3 stages of the bed bug life cycle (& scary statistics)

Nobody likes to have insects in their personal spaces. Bed bugs are no exception; the worst thing about them is that they live in our beds, hence their name. They are small insects that resemble apple seeds in shape and color.

Because they have no wings, they cannot fly around your room. While their evolutionary process gifted them with wing pads, they never reached full development into functional wings. That is why these insects can be found in one specific place only, and it is also the same space where you spend 8 hours of your day.

In today’s article, we will discuss some facts about this insect that causes so many problems in bedrooms and hotel rooms. Continue reading as we teach you about the 3 stages of the bed bug life cycle. We include some scary statistics that will make you check your bed more often. 

They pesky little creatures that can hide in:

  • Luggage
  • Cracks
  • Clothes
  • Drawers
  • Curtains
  • & more
bed bugs on white cloth

Bed bug outbreaks in 2021 & 2022: How common are they in hotels?

You will find out that bed bug outbreaks are more common than you thought. Statistically, it is known that 1 in every 5 households is affected by bed bugs every year. While you might take care of your home and take preventive measures, you cannot expect the same thing from certain hotels. All 50 states suffer from this problem, so bed bugs do not prefer a specific environment. 

But hotels are institutions operating under a commercial license, and perfect hygienic conditions are mandatory. That is why statistically, you are more likely to encounter bed bugs in your home than in the hotel room you booked for next weekend. 

The presence of this insect in a hotel room depends on the quality of the services they offer. For example, it will be less likely to encounter bed bugs in your king-sized bed after you check in at a 5-star hotel. But if you are on a road trip and you decide to spend the night at a low-end motel, you might be surprised once you check your bed. 

Percentage of homes with bed bugs

After homeowners reported an infestation with bed bugs, statistics were made to analyze and isolate specific areas where bed bug outbreaks are more common. While they can infect your bedroom, they are common in busy areas where people gather, such as bus stations or airports.

person looking for bed bugs

46% of all infestations nationwide are reported in the homes of American citizens. 28% of them occur in apartment complexes, and these statistics give us an idea about their favorite environments. Across the nation, Chicago is ranked as the number one city with the most bed bug infections. This statistic is based on the performed treatments by specialized companies.

Nursing homes and offices also deal with this problem, so bed bugs are not exclusive to personal or residential spaces. While dealing with such an outbreak in your home is your responsibility, commercial spaces are often required by law to take immediate action to eliminate the insects. 

Where will bed bugs hide?
BedsArtworkOutlets
MoldingsBackpacksClothes
Box springBooksDrawers
LuggageLight fixturesBrick walls (holes)
ChairsShoesCurtains
Hardwood floors (cracks)Sofas

Types of bed bugs

While bed bugs might look the same and cause all sorts of problems, 90 types of them exist. If your inner biologist is interested in discovering more details about this species, continue reading as we explore the 2 most common types that also infect humans.

While extra knowledge is never bad, this information is beneficial if you want to eliminate these insects. But you will find that your own area might host only one single type of bed bug.

Lectularius

This is the type that will cause the most damage and is also the most common type found in homes and hotels. They are present throughout Europe and the United States. You might have a high chance of dealing with them if you live in these areas. Mattresses are their favorite environment, but they can also thrive on sofas and carpets.

Boueti

Because this type prefers tropical climates, they are only present in South America and several regions of Western Africa. If you plan a trip to these parts of the world, make sure to inspect your hotel room thoroughly. While they are known to infect humans, this type will always prefer bats instead.

How do beg bugs start?

bed bugs

They infect new places by traveling to them with the help of humans. They thrive wherever humans gather. You can often encounter outbreaks in public spaces like transportation systems, train stations, or even hotels. When you check in at a hotel, inspect the room while paying attention to the bed.

Use a flashlight to see details that can hint about bed bugs, such as blood spots or eggshells that they have laid out. If you stay in a hotel infested with bed bugs, you might bring some of them home without even realizing it. They can get into your luggage, so cleaning it thoroughly after you get back home is important.

Never choose second-hand options when you want to change your mattress and furniture. Brand-new items come clean from the factory and do not represent an ideal environment for bed bugs to develop and thrive in. 

3 stages of the bed bug life cycle

In their entire lifespan, bed bugs undergo 3 different stages before they die. These stages occur naturally, and it is subject to their previous evolution. If you eradicate them earlier or change the environment, their lifespan will greatly decrease. Let’s have a look at these stages to understand them better.

Stage 1 – eggs

The female insect can lay up to 3 eggs every day and reach an incredible number of 200 eggs laid in her entire lifetime. These eggs will stay in the same area where they were placed, so you might have difficulty removing them. Oval and white in color, these eggs are difficult to spot, especially if you have white sheets. 

Stage 2 – larvae

After 6 days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae emerge. It undergoes 5 more stages in this period, where they develop until they reach the adult form. Blood meals are necessary for healthy development, and a colony of bed bugs can represent a serious risk to your personal space. 

Stage 3 – adult

adult bed bug

Once they reach maturity, they feed and reproduce for the rest of their lifetime. They can survive for months without food but need plenty of it to reproduce. The complete lifespan of a bed bug can last as long as an entire year.

Can bed bugs cause breathing problems & allergic reactions?

It is known that bed bugs cause many problems. They can ruin your bed and personal space and also infect you. If you suffer from allergies and asthma, you might want to get rid of the bed bug infestation as soon as possible. Their droppings contain a substance that can raise the histamine levels in your home once it becomes airborne. 

Scientists and researchers performed several tests and measurements. They found high histamine levels in homes infested with bed bugs. When they compared the results to homes without this insect, the readings were 20 times higher. 

This substance will cause severe reactions in sensitive people with breathing problems. Talk with your doctor and take all the preventive measures to stop such an outbreak. If you already have bed bugs in your house, you should change the environment until the problem is fixed. 

Why do bed bug bites itch so bad?

bed bug bites

Like most insects, the bed bug feeds on blood because it contains all the necessary nutrients for their needs. While they have a favorite preference for humans, you can also notice bed bugs on pets or bats. Once they bite their victim, an anesthetic and an anticoagulant are injected through their skin.

To be able to feed for longer, the anticoagulant will prevent blood clots. At the same time, the anesthetic numbs the affected area, so the victim stays unaware. The first effect is not felt as the bite neutralizes the itchy feeling immediately. But this uncomfortable feeling might appear as soon as the anesthetic wears off and the immune system reacts to the insect and its bite.

They feed for around 10 minutes, which is enough time to gather their necessary food for the day. When the anesthetic wears off, your bed bug bites will start to itch more and more until the wound is fully healed. 

Differences between bed bug & flea bitesSize and colorLocationTime of the bite
Bed BugsLarger and less colorfulTorsoAt night
FleasSmaller & bright redLower extremities like legsAny time of the day

How to make bed bugs bites stop itching

bed bug hanging on to paper

If you notice bites on your skin, you should check with a dermatologist and get a treatment based on your skin condition and the state of the wounds. Some people suffer a serious allergic reaction and might require an injection to relieve the itching sensation.

Antibiotics are the only ones that can treat an infection. In this case, your dermatologist can prescribe the ideal medication for you. To prevent skin infections from developing from the healing wounds, an antiseptic might also be recommended.

For the itch, you can apply some remedies at home to make them less uncomfortable. You should wash the bites with soap and water. It will prevent infections from developing in the future and reduce itchiness.

You can find corticosteroid cream at any pharmacy. This cream will reduce the itching sensation, and you can buy weak ones without any medical approval. For a strong corticosteroid cream, you will need a prescription. 

Can bed bugs cause health problems & serious side effects?

While they make us uncomfortable and can cause mild skin wounds, bed bugs do not spread diseases. That is why they are not a serious concern for our health, and there are no significant side effects. But they can still cause problems indirectly, such as preventing us from sleeping and disturbing our rest at night.

Lack of sleep will lead to several health problems in the long term. You should always ensure that your bedroom and sleeping place is in perfect condition. The itching caused by bed bugs might tempt you to stretch the wounds more often. It might cause a secondary skin infection as bacteria can easily enter your skin. 

The health response varies from person to person. Your reaction to their bites might be different than what other people experience. While some will develop serious allergic reactions, others will only be annoyed by the uncomfortable sensation of constantly itchy skin. 

Are you afraid you have them at home? Be on the look out for these signs:

  • Blood stains on the bed
  • Shells
  • Eggs
  • Fecal stains

How to get rid of bed bugs

If you struggle with a bed bug infestation in your home, you can apply a couple of methods to get rid of these insects quickly. Before resorting to chemical and professional solutions, try something simple at first.

Bed bugs have no resistance against heat, and extreme temperatures will be fatal to them. The same goes for negative ones, where the intense cold will kill them. Start by washing your sheets and clothes in hot water, then put them in a dryer on the highest setting. Additionally, you can use a steamer on the infested areas, and the insects will die instantly.

bed bug in petri dish

If washing or steaming is unavailable for you, try packing these items into black bags and placing them outside in the sun. Because the black color absorbs more light, the inside of the bag will get extremely hot. While it takes months to kill bed bugs in colder temperatures, they will die instantly under the sun.

If you don’t live in a hot or tropical area, you can try killing them with another extreme temperature. Put these black bags in the freezer set at a minimum of 0 degrees Fahrenheit and leave them there for at least 4 days. All of them should be frozen and incapacitated so you can take them out more easily. It is recommended to wash the items after you bring them back to the room’s temperature. 

In your pursuit to make your home critter-free, have you checked the following:

  • curtains
  • drawers
  • clothes
  • backpacks
  • luggage
  • chairs
  • sofas

FAQ

How long do bed bugs live?

In an ideal environment and under thriving conditions, bed bugs can live for up to one entire year. They will feed every 4 to 5 days on the blood of humans and animals, but they only need food to reproduce. Without these nutrients, they can survive for weeks and months without feeding.

That is why bed bugs will never die of hunger, so removing them from their environment is harder. If you are dealing with an infestation, you will have to take necessary action to get rid of them, as they will not die on their own.

Waiting for their lifespan to end is not a good idea, as the outbreak will not stop after one year. They are constantly reproducing and laying new eggs, with a female being able to lay up to 200 eggs in her entire lifespan.