Bed Bugs Biology

Female bed bugs lay 1 -5 eggs per day with the 1/32″ (1 mm) long, white eggs being deposited individually in cracks or on rough surfaces and secured with a transparent cement for an average total of 200 eggs; maximum eggs per day is 12, with 541 for a lifetime. There are 5 nymphal instars with a blood meal required for each molt. About 3-10 minutes are required for each blood meal, during which saliva containing an anticoagulant is injected. Developmental time (egg to adult) takes 21 days at 86°F/30°C to 120 days at 65°F/18°C, with an additional 3 or 8 days respectively for oviposition to occur. The threshold for egg hatching, nymphal development, and adult activity is 55- 59°F/13-15°C. Below 61°F/16°C adults enter semihibernation and the thermal death point is 111-113°F/44-45°C. Without a blood meal, once-fed nymphs can survive an average of 51 days (range 28-73) at 81°F/27°C and 70-75% RH. Being poorly fed can greatly prolong the nymphal period (35-48 days to 158 days in one study). With normal feeding and reproductive cycles, individuals can live up to 316 days.

Humans are the preferred host of bed bugs and they tend to feed on any bare skin that is exposed while sleeping.

Although the bite of bed bugs is painless, many people develop an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bug as it feeds. A swelling usually results from feeding but there is no red spot such as is characteristic with flea bites. Swelling may be severe and extend beyond the immediate bite area in highly sensitive individuals. However, some individuals never develop a reaction to bites, and some after long exposure to bites eventually reach a point where they no longer have a reaction to bites.

Bed bugs have been found to be infected with some 25 different disease organisms. Survival time within the bed bug was found to be especially long (147-285 days) for the organisms of plague, relapsing fever, tularermia, and Q fever. However, although bed bugs have been suspect in the transmission of many diseases or disease organisms in humans, conclusive evidence of transmission is lacking. The principal medical concern is limited to the itching and secondary infections from scratching.


  1. Tropical bed bug (Cimex hemipterus) with pronotum less than 2.5 times as wide as long at its middle; southern Florida.
  2. Bat bugs (C. adjunctus and C. pilosellus) with upper surface of body covered with long hairs (setae), length 1.5 or more times the diameter of the 2nd antennal segment, fringe hairs on pronotum longer than, or equal to, width of eye.
  3. Swallow bug (Oeciacus vicarius) with 3rd and 4th antennal segments equal in length.
  4. Poultry bug (Haematosiphon inodorus) with beak/proboscis extending back to hind coxae.
  5. Swift bug (Cimexopsis nyctalis) with bases (coxae) of middle and hind legs nearly touching and body bare, lacking hairs.
  6. Flat bugs (family Aradidae) with narrow wings, abdomen extending beyond them, beak/probosis 4-segmented, and tarsi 2-segmented.
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