Bed bugs are breeding machines, and your blood contributes to the process. As they only focus on getting offspring and feeding, changing from a relatively tiny group of bed bugs to a severe infestation can be a relatively quick process. So, what happens after the first few bed bug invaders decide to move to your bedroom? In this article, we’re showing you the process in approximate numbers, keeping in mind that every case can be different from others depending on the temperature, initial infestation, and blood availability.
So how long does it take for bed bugs to manifest itself?
To answer that question, we should review essential facts about bed bugs and their reproduction cycle. A bed bug female can lay around 5 eggs every day. She is just living to breed more bed bugs and feeds with your blood to continue doing so. For every time she bites you, she can stay 10 days, leaving eggs. That is 50 new eggs (and 50 adult bed bugs in the future) for each female bed bug that bites you every night. If we add up the numbers, it is strikingly fast how they grow into a vast community.
- Day 1: Let’s say that you get a family of 4 bed bugs, and 2 of them are females. So, on day 1, you only have 4 bed bugs.
- Day 2: Remember that every female lays 5 eggs every day. So, they will be 4 bed bugs and 10 eggs on day 2.
- Day 7: If you give them 1 week, this small bed bug family will have a total of 70 eggs, and they probably didn’t bite you more than once. After week one has passed, their newborn bed bugs will hatch, and they will take their first meal from your blood. These nymph bed bugs take around 20 days to become adults. After day 7, you will have every day 5 new members of this unwelcome family living in your house.
- Day 27: After 27 days have passed, 2 female bed bugs were responsible for laying 270 eggs. Their family will have around 204 members, and their first-born sons and daughters will be ready to lay eggs themselves. On day 27, you will have 20 new eggs every day instead of 10, and the number will keep growing up exponentially every single day.
- 6 months: After 6 months have passed, each female bed bug in this starting family will be responsible for at least 5,000 new bed bugs. That is, 10,000 bed bugs if you started with two of them.
If you’re allergic to bed bug bites, you might start noticing this infestation after one week, when you already have almost 100 eggs, and some of them are already hatching and thirsty for their first blood meal. If you’re not allergic and don’t pay much attention, the first bites might go unnoticed. But give it two or three weeks, and the bites will be noticeable even for careless and very tough individuals.
How bad is my infestation?
We’re showing all of the above only as a curiosity because we usually experience bed bug problems in the opposite direction. We start noticing bed bug bites and then trace it back to a possible source of the infestation. But if you’re starting to see bites, marks, or any other sign of bed bugs, is there a way to know how bad is it and what can you do to solve the issue?
For educational purposes, let’s break down bed bug infestation into three categories: mild infestations, moderate infestation, and heavy infestations.
In mild infestations, the signs of bed bugs are not very obvious. People sometimes experience bites in different body areas, but they are often neglected if they are not allergic. In the house, you might also find some clues of bed bug infestations:
- Dark red stains or rusty areas on the sheets or in your mattress. These are crushed bed bugs, and they are sometimes noticeable in mild infestations.
- Very meticulous people may notice small dark spots in fabrics and other surfaces. They are bed bug droppings. This is quite difficult to find at an early stage.
- Also, meticulous people may notice eggshells. But they are even more difficult to notice because they are translucent and often hidden in dark crevasses.
So, if you’re finding very noticeable signs of bed bug infestation, it is probably not a mild problem. Mild infestations only give out occasional signs and are especially caught by meticulous people.
You get similar signs of bed bug infestation in a moderate infestation, but they are more obvious. In this case, it is difficult not to notice the bites. They are often annoying and cannot be neglected. You’re probably worried about them, especially if you’re allergic. And you can also see more obvious infestation cues when you’re cleaning:
- The dark red stains or rusty areas in your mattress or sheets are very obvious, and you always find a couple of them in every bedding change.
- Dark spots in fabrics are easier to notice because they are not only one but several bed bug droppings.
- You might also notice eggshells. Once again, they are more difficult to detect.
In a severe infestation, the presence of bed bugs is evident in different ways. They leave several marks all over the body. They become very annoying, and all over the house, there are overlapping signs of a bed bug infestation:
- You can find bed bugs actually crawling on walls or visible in cracks. This does not happen in previous stages because they are mostly active at night. But they are starving now, and their dark houses are overcrowded.
- You get to see eggshells in the furniture, in your mattress, and many other places, as well as fecal stains all over the place
- There’s an unpleasant smell in the house. It is often described as a sweet but musty smell similar to coriander or berries.
- Near harboring areas, you start noticing skins shed from nymphs that begin piling up and accumulate
In a severe infestation, professional help is definitely required. In mild cases, you may succeed by applying a few recommendations to take care of bed bugs for good. But in intermediate stages, it all depends on your skill and the magnitude of the problem, and you may or may not succeed in getting rid of bed bugs by yourself.
Harlan, H. J. (2006). Bed bugs 101: the basics of Cimex lectularius. American Entomologist, 52(2), 99-101.
Reinhardt, K., & Siva-Jothy, M. T. (2007). Biology of the bed bugs (Cimicidae). Annu. Rev. Entomol., 52, 351-374.
Bernardeschi, C., Le Cleach, L., Delaunay, P., & Chosidow, O. (2013). Bed bug infestation. Bmj, 346, f138.