Bed Bug Biology

Common Name: Bed bug

Scientific Family: Climex lectularius Linnaeus

Bed Bug Color

Unfed adults bed bugs are mahogany to rusty brown color. Engorged bed bugs are red-brown color after a blood meal. Nymphs (baby bed bugs) are nearly colorless when they first hatch and become brownish as they mature.

Count of Legs

Six legs

Bed Bug Shape

Unfed bed bugs are flat and broad-oval. Fed bed bugs become swollen and more elongated.

Bed Bug Size

Adult bed bugs can reach a size of about 1/4 inch long. Nymphs range from 1.3 mm to 4-5 mm.

Bed Bug Size: Early and Late Bed Bugs on Dime

Adult and nymph bed bugs

Bed Bug Life Cycle

Bed bug biology naturally promotes infestation. Female bed bugs lay one to five eggs per day, or an average of 540 eggs in a lifetime. They typically lay their eggs in cracks or rough surfaces. Bed bug nymphs grow to full adulthood in about 21 days and go through five stages of development before they reach maturity. A bed bug will molt once during each stage of development, though a blood meal is required for a molt. An adult bed bug can live for several months without a blood meal.

Bed Bug Biology & Color: Male & Female Bed Bugs & Eggs

Male and female bed bugs and bed bug eggs

Bed Bug Feeding

Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted by their hosts. For this reason, they tend to feed at night on bare skin that is exposed while sleeping. However, they are opportunistic insects and will consume a blood meal during the day, especially in heavily-infested areas. Although bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, they will feed on other warm-blooded hosts as well.

Bed bugs usually require 5-10 minutes to engorge with blood. They feed by inserting two hollow, beak-like feeding tubes into their host. The first tube injects the bug's saliva, which contains anesthetics to numb the feeding area. The second tube draws blood. After feeding, they move to secluded places and hide for 5-10 days. During this time, they do not feed but instead digest their meal, mate and lay eggs.

Bed Bug Biology: Bed Bugs Feeding

Bed bugs feeding