If you’ve had to deal with bed bugs hitching a ride home on your pet or your luggage, you’ve probably asked yourself, "how long do bed bugs live?"
As far as insect life spans go, bed bugs crawl the earth for longer than most — tapping out around the 10-month marker, according to bedbugs.org. And while that 10-month window is true for most, some are thought to live up to a year.
A bed bug life cycle includes multiple stages. A female bed bug lays eggs in groups of one to 50 and they take anywhere from six to 17 days to hatch, according to bedbugs.org. By the time she dies, a female will have laid hundreds of eggs.
The eggs are small, about 1 millimeter in size, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One millimeter is around the size of a mustard seed.
With the right conditions and temperatures, a bed bug can go from an egg to its adult stage in approximately 37 days. Warmer climates promote faster bed bug reproduction and development.
Baby bed bugs are called nymphs. A nymph will go through five phases of growth before it becomes an adult, shedding its skin each time, according to the EPA. They start life at 1.5 millimeters (the thickness of a U.S. penny) and grow to about 4.5 millimeters (the size of a medium-to-large pearl).
Even in their nymph stages, bed bugs are ready to eat. They primarily feed off of people, but will also bite animals − including dogs, cats, rodents and chickens. A bed bug can last up to a year or longer without feeding if the temperatures are ideal.
Still, the average bed bug life cycle isn’t very long, but they do lead active lives, which includes aggressively mating. If you think you may have signs of bed bugs, contact a pest management professional immediately.
Bed Bug Life Cycle Resources:
- Bed Bug Eggs
- Pictures of Bed Bug Larvae and the Bed Bug Life Cycle
- Bed Bug Nymphs
- How Do Bed Bugs Reproduce and How Often?