How long do bed bugs live?

Thousands of years ago, when humans were still nomadic and cave dwelling, a blood-sucking insect made the decision to abandon bat blood instead of human blood. Years later, when humans left the caves and began to develop agricultural civilizations, those blood-sucking insects began to disperse with man to different parts of the world.

How long do bed bugs live?

Today, thousands of years after the Neolithic, the descendant of that insect is known as the bed bug (Cimex lectularius), and, like its ancestor, it feeds on human blood. This insect has a quite particular incomplete metamorphosis, since it does not have a single immature state, but five in total, which means that the complete life cycle of a bed bug goes through up to seven different stages (egg, N1, N2, N3, N4, N5 and adult).

The total process of development of a bed bug can take about 37 days in optimal temperature conditions, in other words, in temperatures above 72 °F (22,2 °C). Once the bed bug reaches adulthood, they can live about a year depending on the frequency with which it feeds and the temperature in which they are.

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    Bed bug lifespan

    Bed bugs are one of the Hemiptera insects with the greatest potential for longevity, since, under optimal conditions, they can live as adults for up to a year.

    However, its size, compared to other Hemiptera insects, is its biggest disadvantage. Its 5 millimeters in length and its insatiable appetite make it an easy and difficult target for humans to ignore, making it difficult for a bed bug to reach a year of life without first being exterminated.

    Bed bugs lifespan
    Larvae of the bed bug on the fur of a bat. Flickr.

    Despite the enormous disadvantage that their size provides to their main targets and exterminators (humans), bed bugs are one of the most difficult insect pests to exterminate.

    The latter due to their enormous reproductive potential and their cryptic lifestyle, which allows them to remain hidden from human sight from midnight to an hour before dawn.

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    Where do bed bugs live?

    As mentioned in the previous section, bed bugs have a cryptic lifestyle, which means that they spend most of their time hiding in cracks and crevices away from the human, their main target and exterminator, for most of the day. However, after midnight, when humans are sleeping, bed bugs take the opportunity to feed on their blood.

    These insects have the impressive ability to detect the carbon dioxide that humans produce when they breathe, as well as the heat that emanates from their bodies, if they are within 3 feet of their target.

    Bed bugs infestation
    Bed bug infestation. Flickr.

    Precisely due to the limitations of their sensory abilities, bed bugs hide near the human host's bed, usually on the edges of mattresses or on the bed frames. There, the bed bug waits for the human to fall asleep, to penetrate his skin in search of capillaries that allow it to have quick access to his blood flow.

    What do bed bugs eat?

    Bed bugs are entirely blood-sucking insects, which means that their diet consists solely of blood. As mentioned throughout this article, humans are the bed bug's favorite host.

    Contrary to popular belief, if the human does not wake up and interrupt the insect in the process, the bed bug will only feed on its blood for 5-10 minutes. Once the bed bug fills with blood, it moves away from the host and returns to its refuge, where it will begin the digestive process of the previously consumed blood.

    Bed bugs usually feed every 3 days, although some can remain satiated for a full week. While it will seem to any guest living in a house infested by bed bugs that the appetite of these insects is insatiable, in reality, it is not the same bed bug that bites night after night, but a different one.

    Bed bug in a hand
    Bed bug in a hand. Flickr.

    This apparent voraciousappetite of bed bugs is due to their great reproductive capacity and their rapid development, which allows them to give life to a considerable population of hungry bed bugs in a few months.

    Interesting facts about bed bugs

    Here are some interesting facts about bed bugs:

    • A female bed bug can produce between 1 and 7 eggs per day for 10 days after feeding on human blood. Once the female bed bug runs out of the necessary nutrients to maintain her reproductive rate, she needs to feed again in order to produce more eggs.
    • The number of eggs and males and females produced during a litter is always the same, that is, their ratio is 1: 1.
    • A female can lay eggs in any room in the infested house.
    • At room temperature, the mortality of bed bug eggs is low. In fact, 97% of the eggs hatch successfully.
    • In optimal conditions, 60% of the eggs hatch within 6 days of being laid.
    • The hatching time of bed bug eggs is highly dependent on the temperature of the environment.
    • If the ambient temperature is between 70 ° F (21,1 °C) and 90 ° F (32,2 °C) and there are enough hosts to feed on, the bed bug population can double in number every 16 days.

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