How long can bed bugs eggs live? The question itself suggests you’re worried about a bed bug infestation. Bummer! Unfortunately, the answer depends on environmental factors, such as the temperature and the bed bug’s level of pesticide resistance.
Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
To fully understand how long a bed bug lives, you first need to understand the insect’s life cycle.
During its life, a female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs (even more if the conditions are right). What are those right conditions? If they have enough food, warmth and protection, female bed bugs live their short lives in a constant cycle of feeding and reproducing.
How Long Can Bed Bug Eggs Live?
Bed bug eggs hatch between 2 and 10 days after they’ve been laid. For a fragile object that is only 1mm long, the eggs are remarkably resilient. After laying her clutch, the female bed bug goes back to her feeding/hibernating/reproducing cycle. Neither the eggs nor the newly hatched nymphs require any care from an adult bed bug.
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: The tiny white eggs have a sticky coating that helps them cling to the crevasses in your mattress, bedding, clothing, shoes, and even on your pet’s coat. This is one of the sneaky ways bed bugs can travel from room to room and building to building.
When a bed bug first hatches from its egg, it’s called a nymph. Nymphs molt and shed their exoskeletons—also called skins or shells—before they are mature adults. Don’t let the cute name fool you. Nymphs are ferocious. They need to feed on blood between each molting, which means they are constantly searching for a meal. It takes about six to nine weeks for a nymph to become a full adult that’s ready to reproduce.
After the fifth molt, the bed bug is fully mature and starts a new cycle of infestation all over again. The quick cycle of egg to reproduction shows why bed bugs are so hard to get rid of once they’ve invaded your home or property. In perfect conditions, an adult bed bug lives anywhere from six to 12 months after reaching maturity.
Life Expectancy Factors
Bed bugs are exposed to many real-world factors that affect their life expectancy. Environmental conditions are one of the reasons bed bugs seem to thrive in some regions and are rarely seen in others. Bed bugs live longer when:
- Temperatures are mild and consistent
- Hosts (people or animals) are abundant
- Humidity is high
- They have protective shelter
Mattresses and bedding that don’t provide the hiding spots and permeable materials that keep bed bugs safe can be used to prevent the endless reproductive cycle that leads to uncontrolled infestations.
If you didn’t eat for a year, your chances of survival would be pretty slim — and so would you. In ideal lab settings, adult bed bugs have survived without eating for more than 400 days. But nymphs will starve about twice as fast as adults.
Bed bugs are survivors. Once they’ve made themselves at home it can take many applications of insecticide, many loads of laundry, and a lot of special cleaning tools to get rid of them. With this in mind, focusing on bed bug prevention should be just as important, if not more, than eradication.
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