What You Should Know About Female Bed Bugs And Bed Bug Eggs

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Dini M. Miller, Assistant Professor of Entomology, Virginia Tech, recently provided an update on bed bug biology and control at Chicago’s ‘A Meeting of the Minds V’.

 You should know …

 Mating Biology

  • Bed bugs can not mate until they have fed 5 times and shed their skins or exoskeleton 5 times - this takes approximately 37 days depending upon access to a host for feeding.
  • Once fed, the adult male bed bug is very interested in mating.
  • Bed bugs mate by traumatic insemination – the male stabs through the female’s abdominal wall to deposit sperm which migrate to her ovaries and fertilize her eggs.

Bed Bug Egg Biology


Adult bed bug with grains of rice and flanked on each side by a bed bug egg

  • A mated female bed bug can lay 5 – 20 bed bug eggs over 10 days - providing she has recently fed.
  • A meandering female bed bug may lay her eggs anywhere - singly or in groups.
  • She will eventually run out of sperm and have to mate again to continue egg production and her egg production will be dependent upon regular feedings.
  • Over the course of her lifetime, providing she feeds regularly, the average female bed bug will lay 131 bed bug eggs.
  • Of those 131 bed bug eggs, approximately 97 percent will be viable and successfully hatch.
  • Providing the bed bug egg incubation conditions are ideal – 70°F/21°C or above – 60 percent will hatch on day 6, and less than 90 percent by day 9. Decreasing the temperature to 50°F/10° C will add several days to the bed bug egg hatch timeline.
  • The ratio of male and female eggs produced is about equal – 1:1.
  • Within 16 days – under ideal conditions – a bed bug population could double. Ideal conditions are between 70°F/21°C and 90°F/32°C with regular feedings.

 1 Bed Bug May Become An Infestation

It is apparent from these population numbers that a single breeding female can be the origin of an infestation, as Dini Miller states:

"In practical terms, this means that a single mated female brought into a home can cause an infestation without having a male present, as long as she has access to regular blood meals. The female will eventually run out of sperm, and will have to mate again to fertilizer her eggs. However, she can easily mate with her own offspring after they become adults to continue the cycle.”

Early Bed Bug Detection

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When faced with numbers like these, it is apparent early bed bug detection is crucial to nip an infestation before the population gains ground. Learning about bed bug biology and behaviour is your first line of defence.  Establishing a pro-active early bed bug warning system is the second step. Passive bed bug monitors are an excellent second line of defense. The BB Alert Passive Monitor, is simple to use, costs 8¢/day over a year and provides an early warning system to safeguard your home and your family. 


Read more on bed bug monitors, traps and detectors

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