Bed bugs reproduce by traumatic insemination, also known as hypodermic insemination. The males have hypodermic genitalia which pierce the females anywhere on their abomen and ejaculate sperm into the body cavity. The sperm diffuse through the insides and reach the ovaries, resulting in fertilization.
The female bed bug lays approximately 5 eggs in one day and about 500 during her lifetime. Eggs are about 1 mm long and are visible to the naked eye. They have a milky-white tinge.
The eggs take about two weeks to hatch. The nymphs (baby bed bugs) start feeding as soon as they hatch, and pass through five molting stages before reaching maturity. During each molting stage they need to feed once. It takes about five weeks to reach maturity at a room-temperature environment.
Bed bugs can only reproduce when they have reached maturity.
How do bed bugs get into your house?
Bed bugs may get into a new home as stowaways when luggage, furniture and bedding is moved into a new home - especially in the case of second-hand furniture. Perhaps we should be careful when purchasing second hand furniture at knock-down prices - a careful visual inspection should result in detecting them, if any are present.
Even vacant and seemingly clean homes may have bed bugs in them - they can survive for many months without any food. They can also move from apartment to apartment through hollows in walls and holes and tubes that wires and pipes go through.
A bat or bird that flies into a home could introduce bed bugs, and some other bugs as well.
How do I know if I have bed bugs in my house?
The biggest sign of bed bugs is people complaining of bites that occurred while they were asleep. If this happens you should examine the bedrooms for bed bugs and signs of bed bug activity. Look carefully into the creases in the bed linen, and seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs for bugs or eggs. The eggs will look like tiny pale poppy seeds.
Signs of bed bug activity may exist beneath loose areas of wallpaper near beds, in the corner of desks and dressers, in laundry, and in drawers.
Look out for dark brown or reddish fecal spots (bed bug droppings, excrement). If an area is very infested you may sense a coriander-like odor. The excrement is a liquid that looks either light brown or black that can either bead up or be absorbed by the material around it.
Dogs can be trained to sniff out live bed bugs or past infestations. A dog's sense of smell is so acute that it can pick up the scent of a single bed bug.