Bed bugs are one of the most frustrating pests a homeowner can encounter. They reproduce rapidly, feed on blood and cause welts and itching on their victims. It doesn’t help that they are great at hiding, feed at night and are often hard to actually see. Because of their elusive nature, it’s important to know how to identify them correctly. Bed bugs grow through a series of stages from eggs to adults with 5 stages of larvae in between so it helps to know what they look like as they grow up! Most people call the stages between eggs and adults simply larvae, but the technical term is actually nymphs. While you may become an expert at identifying these pests, it will probably take a professional pest control company to control an infestation.
What Does Each Stage Look Like?
- Adult bedbugs: Adults are about the size of an apple seed (5 – 7 mm long), with an oval, flat body that is brown in color. If they have fed recently, they will appear more rounded, kind of reddish-brown (think blood!) and slightly longer.
- Nymphs (larvae): Nymphs come in 5 stages and have similar characteristics as the adult stage with varying sizes depending on the stage. They are usually translucent or pale yellow and can be even more difficult to see than adults because of their smaller size.
1st stage nymph (1.5 mm)
2nd stage nymph (2 mm)
3rd stage nymph (2.5 mm)
4th stage nymph (3 mm)
5th stage nymph (4.5 mm)
- Eggs: Bed bugs at this stage are about the size of a pin head (1 mm or less) and are pearl-white and have an eye spot once they are 5 or more days old.
At each of the nymph stages, bed bugs feed on blood and grow about ½ mm. As each stage moves from one to the next, the nymphs shed their skin as they get bigger so there tends to be a lot of evidence of infestation through these cycles. So that’s 5 exoskeletons for each and every bed bug in your home so if you know what to look for, you can identify them and be proactive by calling a professional bed bug control company before things get out of control.
Nymph Stages Timetable
Since nymphs shed after each stage and leave behind ample evidence, being able to identify where they are in the growth cycle can be helpful. Under the right conditions, each nymph stage lasts approximately one week, again, leaving exoskeletons as they molt. As long as they feed on blood, they will progress to the next stage. Even if they don’t feed, they can still survive at a particular nymph stage for several months. All the while, the adult bed bugs will continue mating, creating more and more nymphs.