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Bed Bug Biology

One of the best bed bug prevention techniques is education. The more you know about bed bugs, the simpler it is to identify the pests and spot signs of an infestation. According to the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, bed bug pest control begins with integrated pest management, a practice that involves understanding the behavior and life cycles of pests in order to more effectively evict them. When you know what to look for, bed bug control measures can be tailored to your situation for greater effectiveness.

To facilitate more knowledgeable bed bug pest control, Rutgers has created a video about the biology of bed bugs at various stages in their life cycle. Here’s a summary of key points:

Adult Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are oval, wingless creatures that range in color from straw to reddish-brown. Their shape and appearance is similar to that of an apple seed. The shell on the upper body of this pest can appear wrinkled, like paper, and the whole body is covered with short, golden hairs. Before an adult bed bug feeds, it can be as flat as a piece of paper. After feeding, the bug becomes a bloated, dark red and can look like an animated blood drop.

Young Bed Bugs

Effective bed bug control requires eliminating any eggs as well as the adult specimens. Bed bugs lay their eggs in clusters; the eggs look like translucent grains of rice that are the size of a pinhead. The end of an egg has a small lip, which is where the young bed bug emerges. Newly hatched bed bugs have a shiny appearance and vary from colorless to a light cream color. Otherwise, they look like smaller versions of adult bed bugs. After a young bed bug feeds, its head remains colorless, but its abdomen turns blood red. Before reaching adulthood, a young bed bug sheds its shell five times. The casts have the same shape as the bug.


One of the biggest challenges of bed bug prevention and control is that bed bugs breed all year long and can produce between three and six generations per year. Luckily, the lifespan of a bed bug is only 10-12 months. During its lifetime, a female bed bug can lay between 200 and 400 eggs, depending on the temperature of the nest and the availability of food.


Since bed bugs are nocturnal, you may not see them crawling around, which can make detection and proper identification difficult. If you have an allergic reaction to bed bug saliva, you may notice bites on your neck, face, hands and arms. If you do not have an allergic reaction, you may not notice a bed bug infestation until you see other physical signs.

Some of the most common areas bed bug pest control experts find bed bugs are in bed frame gaps and cracks; behind baseboards and picture frames; and in the tucks and seams of a mattress. If you suspect a bed bug infestation in your home, look for eggs, skin casts and blood-like smears or specks on pillowcases, sheets and around your mattress. Then call a bed bug control company. Bed bugs are highly resistant to insecticides, and the pros have special tools to help identify and control the unwanted squatters.

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