Baby Bed Bugs & Nymphs - Everything You Need To Know
Bed bug infestations are as unsettling as they are troublesome. They can leave you retracing your steps, wondering where you could have contracted the pest. Finding baby bed bugs can be even more worrying because you know the mums and dads must be reproducing nearby. This is when you really need to know what you're doing.
In the United States, the problem of bed bugs is growing. One out of five Americans have either had a bed bug infestation or know someone else who has. Some cities are more affected than others, but bed bugs are growing in prevalence across the country.
Female bed bugs lay between one to five eggs every day and can lay up to 250 eggs in her lifetime. These baby bed bugs turn into adult bed bugs and start regularly feeding while their host peacefully sleeps.
This article will explain everything you need to know about bed bug nymphs, including where to find them and how to effectively destroy them.
What Do Baby Bed Bugs Look Like?
Baby bed bugs are tiny but grow into more visible adult bed bugs. An adult bed bug has a brownish color but turns a bit redder after it feeds. These adults are around 4.5 mm and are relatively easy to spot, when compared to baby versions. Adults also emit an unpleasant smell; people often describe as “musty.”
If you see a noticeable bed bug, it’s likely an adult. Baby bed bugs are far smaller, and their color makes them difficult to see. If anything, you’ll probably only see traces of the bed bugs instead of the bug itself. These marks can be faecal matter, shed skin, or even their tiny eggs.
Size and Appearance
Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, are only about 1.5 mm at their first stage. They grow in stages, with each stage marking .5 mm in growth. By the fifth stage, just before adulthood, they’ll grow to about the same size as an adult bed bug.
Baby bed bugs are also a different color than adult bed bugs. Babies are white or yellow, and sometimes so translucent they’re almost invisible. Finding a bed bug that's only 2 mm is difficult to the naked eye.
Bed bug eggs are even smaller at 1 mm, but you may spot them in clusters. Bed bugs traditionally lay their eggs in a safe corner of the room, which can be a problem when it comes time to eradicate them.
Like adult bed bugs, baby bed bugs are oval-shaped. In many ways, they look like a miniature version of adults apart from the color difference. If you see a baby bed bug crawling on your mattress, there’s likely a host of adult bed bugs hiding as well.
Bed bugs are very slim, which allows them to fit into tight cracks. The infestation is probably primarily on your mattress, but that doesn’t mean it’s isolated. Bed bugs hide in bed frames, headboards, and even small cracks in walls. Their ability to hide makes it more difficult to get rid of them through home remedies. You may eradicate most of them, but the infestation will come back if you don’t get the ones hiding in other places.
Although bed bugs can’t jump or fly, they’re quite fast on the ground. They can scurry at around four feet per second. They’re about as quick as an ant, which means catching a single bed bug can be difficult. They can sneak back to their hiding spot before you’re able to stop them. Still, seeing one bed bug means there’s likely many more.
Common Mistakes When Identifying Bed Bugs
If you see a brownish-colored, oval-shaped bug, don’t panic just yet. There are several other types of bugs that look very similar to bed bugs. If you have one of these, you don’t need to worry as much.
Bed bugs traditionally feed on human hosts, which separate them from poultry bugs, bat bugs, booklice, and carpet beetles. These bugs don’t usually make their home close to humans, though, so finding them on your bed will be unusual.
Bat bugs look strikingly similar to bed bugs, and people often make this mistake. They won’t harm you, but try to set up bed bug traps, just in case you missed something.
It’s more common to find booklice in homes than the other commonly mistaken pests. Booklice aren’t harmful to humans, but people often make the mistake of naming booklice as baby bed bugs. Their size and color are similar to that of bed bug nymphs, so it’s an easy mistake to make.
Even if you see one of these pests, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you assume the worst, it’s never a bad idea to protect yourself against a possible infestation.
Do Baby Bed Bugs Bite?
In short: Yes. Baby bed bugs bite.
Baby bed bugs need to feed just like adult bed bugs do. In fact, it’s more crucial for baby bed bugs to feed so they can develop properly. As soon as a bed bug hatches, it seeks a human or animal from which to feed. Baby bed bug bites will also usually last just as long as adult bed bug bites.
When most people envision a bed bug, they think of the adult sucking their blood as they sleep. In reality, though, it’s just as likely, (if not more likely,) you were bitten by a baby bed bug as it was developing. Nymphs feed far more often than adults, so it’s probably this stage where most bites occur.
As a baby grows, it feeds on blood to reach the next stage of development. The baby will feed one or more times until it reaches the next stage and sheds its skin. The skin of a bed bug is one of the tell-tale signs that you have a bed bug infestation. Since the babies are small, they’re easy to miss. The skin they leave behind, though, is easier to spot.
This is an early indicator of bed bugs and something that requires immediate action. Catching a bed bug infestation early is the best way to reverse the damage. If you ignore it for too long, they may take over a room or even a whole home.
Bed Bug Bites
People who are in denial about their bed bug problem often hold mosquitoes responsible for their small, itchy welts. These bites are similar in many ways, but the characteristics of a mosquito bite can be a bit different than that of a bed bug bite. For instance, mosquitos normally only bite once, unlike bed bugs.
Mosquito bites, bed bug bites and other insect bites can usually be found to be roughly the same size, though, which can make it hard for some people to distinguish. This however, can depend on the person, and their intolerances to various chemicals within the insect saliva.
A good rule-of-thumb for bed bug bites is to ask yourself: was this an area that was exposed during the day or only at night? If you spent the previous summer's night around a fire-pit and wake to find bug bites on your ankles, there’s no reason to worry. If, though, you find a bite on your thigh during the winter months, you should start preparing yourself to deal with a bed bug infestation.
Bed bug bites can also appear as 3-4 (or more) separate bites closely clumped together on a small area of skin- a trait that few other insect bites have.
Finally, it normally takes a couple of weeks to get rid of baby bed bug bites - similar in timescale to adults. However, you can get rid of bed bug bites faster by using various home remedies, or over-the-counter medications (usually the same ones used for other insect bites).
How Long Until Baby Bed Bugs Turn Into Adults?
As baby bed bugs feed, they grow and shed their skin. In total, there are five stages of bed bug development. Until the bug is fully matured, they are considered a nymph. Once they’ve reached adulthood, they’ll take on all of the characteristics of adults and start reproducing, adding to your infestation problems.
Bed Bug Development
At the early stages, bed bugs are far smaller and harder to spot than when they are adults. As soon as they hatch, they go in search of a meal. Although nymphs can survive for months without any food, it’s common for these nymphs to feed around one time per day. Once they’ve reached maturity, they only need to feed once or twice a week.
This may sound better, but it takes an adult bed bug 5-10 minutes to complete a feeding. The thought of having a bed bug sucking your blood for that length of time is a bit unsettling.
As a nymph feeds and grows, it sheds its skin and leaves it behind. As we’ve stated, finding skin is one of the easiest ways to spot the early signs of an infestation. Due to their clear complexion, a baby bed bug looks red once it’s filled up with blood.
The time it takes for a bed bug to reach full maturity varies. It depends on a variety of factors, including climate and the availability of food. In the perfect conditions, it takes a nymph one week to shed its skin and transfer to the next stage. Considering this fact, it will take just over a month for a baby bed bug to fully mature.
After around 5-7 weeks, the nymph will be an adult bed bug. Finding a large number of adult bed bugs can mean that the infestation has been there for a while. It takes about ten days for an egg to hatch, so fully developed bed bugs mean you’ve likely had an infestation for at least a few months.
How to Kill Baby Bed Bugs
Killing baby bed bugs is the same as killing adult bed bugs. First of all, if you rent an apartment, you should alert your landlord of the problem. You could have gotten the infestation from another person in the building, and the bed bugs could be spreading. They may even need to treat the whole complex.
How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs With DIY Treatment
Hiring pest control professionals can be costly, and while it’s usually the best option, there are some preliminary steps you can take to get rid of bed bugs yourself.
If your problem is isolated to just one bedroom like most small household infestations, try following the steps below:
1. Carefully bag and wash all of your bedding. Let them dry for at least 30 minutes in a clean environment.
2. Clear any clutter around the room. Bed bugs love to hide in piles of clothes, so remove these and wash them before you start cleaning. Don't give bed bugs a safe haven to hide in.
3. Use a high-powered vacuum to clean around the bed to take care of stray bugs and eggs. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is vital to ensure bed bugs cannot escape once captured. The Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum easily ticks all of the boxes while remaining lightweight and easily maneuverable.
4. Use a specialist non-toxic bed bug spray to clean your bed-frame, headboard, and surrounding furniture. Carefully read the label on any product beforehand to ensure it’s safe for indoor use.
The best bed bug spray I've yet to personally use is the completely natural Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer. It has a reported 100% kill rate against live bed bugs in controlled tests, and most importantly, it's chemical-free and child/pet friendly.
5. Pull your bed away from the walls and place bed bug interceptor cups under each leg. These will isolate your bed and help to prevent the spread of bed bugs. Additionally, interceptors can serve as tools to help you track progress. Ideally, the interceptors should contain fewer bed bugs every time you empty them. My personal favorites are these Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps.
6. Using a bed bug mattress protector to encase your mattress will help to save it if it's yet to be infested, or otherwise keep bed bugs trapped in and around it until they eventually die of starvation. My favorite is the SureGuard Mattress Encasement which is thick, strong, and will help to stop bed bugs of all sizes from getting to, or from, your mattress. A SureGuard Box Spring Encasement is also available.
7. If you wish to be extremely thorough, specialist bed bug heaters can be purchased to raise household items to a temperature that is sure to kill all bed bugs and eggs. My favorite is the ZappBug, which is designed to automatically reach the all-important killing temperature to eradicate all stages of the bed bugs life cycle. Smaller and extra-large sizes are also available.
If you follow the steps listed above, you should be able to take care of your bed bug problem. If the infestation moves to multiple rooms, the situation gets a bit more difficult. You’ll have to use more insecticide to kill the bed bugs, which can be dangerous if you’re untrained.
For multiple rooms, your best option is a pest control professional. They will most likely use many different methods to eradicate any bed bugs within your home. Look for a reputable, well-reviewed pest control professional, though, because they can be a bit expensive.
Bed bugs are among the most troublesome pests in American homes (and further-afield)
If you only see baby bed bugs around the home, your infestation likely isn’t too old, which means you’ve caught it early. Follow the above advice to make sure you get rid of all of the pests and contact a professional if the infestation gets out of hand.
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