Bed Bug Reproduction and Lifecycle




Dr. Harold Harlan © Armed Forces Pest Management Board (with permission)

Bed bugs mate in a bizarre process called traumatic insemination. Instead of using the genital tract, the male pierces the female’s abdomen with his genitalia and injects his sperm through a wound in the abdominal cavity. The sperm migrates through her abdominal fluid until it reaches her ovaries.

 
This process is traumatic to the female because of the wound, leakage of blood and increased risk of infection and disease. The mating process reduces the lifespan of the female bed bug. After mating, the female may try to avoid mating  again by isolating herself and moving away from the harborage.
 




This process makes it more likely that a bed bug that hitchhikes on personal belongings like luggage, backpacks and pocketbooks will be a pregnant female.

 
Females can carry sperm and produce eggs for 4 to 6 weeks, increasing the odds that the bed bug you bring home will be a pregnant female capable of creating a widespread infestation in your home or business.




Bed bugs can live up to 12 to 18 months. A female is capable of laying from one to twelve eggs per day, but typically lays 5-7 per week.
 
Over the course of her lifetime, a female can lay 200-500 eggs. Both male and female bed bugs must feed at least every 14 days in order to reproduce.
 
Females will lay eggs almost continuously as long as she has access to a blood meal. An infestation from a single pregnant female can rise to 5,000 bed bugs within six months.
 
Egg hatch in 6 to 17 days and nymphs can immediately begin to feed. Nymphs require a blood meal in order to molt and reach the next level of development. Nymphs or instars pass through five molting periods before they become adults capable of reproducing.Development time from egg to adult is greatly affected by temperature. At 86 degrees, it takes about 21 days for an egg to hatch, go through nymphal development and reach adulthood. At 65 degrees, the process takes about 120 days.