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How Do Bed Bugs Form?

Just the thought of bed bugs makes you itch! Ever wonder how they form? The textbook answer is that they form after bed bug nymphs (young bed bugs) hatch out of fertilized eggs laid by female bed bugs. The eggs, which look like a grain of salt, are laid on a hard surface. The eggs are sticky and affix to the surface until they hatch. Once the eggs hatch, nymphs are virtually invisible without a microscope or magnifying glass. They’re less than 1 mm in length, and whitish-yellow and or clear in color.

How do bed bugs get into your home? Eggs, nymphs and beg bugs are unwittingly brought into your home as hitchhikers on clothing, in a suit case, or in second hand beds or furniture.

Once in your home, the bed bug has an almost magical ability to detect the breath of any person sleeping nearby. Attracted to the source of that breath, bed bugs will climb up the bed, find the sleeping person and have a meal. When full, bed bugs will find a hiding place near by – either in a fold or crevice in the mattress itself, or in furniture close to the bed. It will then come out again for meals once a week or so. Nymphs, or growing bed bugs, will grow in size and shed their skin after each meal. Once they shed their skin five times, they will have grown into adult bed bugs. That means they can breed and create more bed bugs.

As you can see, if not dealt with, very quickly, one or two bed bugs can turn into an infestation.

How big can bed bugs get and how can you recognize them? An adult bed bug can vary in size, but as a rule of thumb, they are:

  • About the size of an apple seed (5-7 mm or 3/16-1/4 inch long)

  • Flat, oval-shaped and reddish-brown (if they haven’t fed on blood recently)

  • Balloon-like and bright red (if they have fed on blood recently)

  • Have a foul, almost musty odor

  • Can’t jump or fly - they’re walkers

Bed bug lifecycle size chart Here’s a common bed bug size chart to help you recognize them at every stage:

  • Eggs are tiny, about the size of a pin head (1 mm)

  • 1st stage nymph (1.5 mm)

  • 2nd stage nymph (2 mm)

  • 3rd stage nymph (2.5 mm)

  • 4th stage nymph (3 mm), about the size of a sesame seed

  • 5th stage nymph (4.5 mm)

  • Adult bed bugs (5-7 mm or 3/16-1/4 inch), about the size of an apple seed

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