Bed bugs are one of many blood sucking bugs. In fact, they are a member of a larger family that feed on all sorts of animals. However, bed bugs have adapted to the perfect habitat. Perfect for them anyway. As people left a nomadic lifestyle and began staying in one place, the bed bugs' life became easier. They had an easy way to make a home, reproduce, guarantee that their offspring had plenty of blood, and all they had to do was live near where their host slept. It was a perfect situation. The prey laid down, held still, and was there for hours at a time when the bed bugs were awake, active, and looking for food. With this development, the bed bug as we know was "born".

Today bed bugs love the homes that we create. They often find plenty of hiding spots where they create "nests", lay eggs, and follow a feeding pattern that makes their life easy. While getting rid of them isn't as easy as getting them, understanding their life cycle can be of help.

Eggs are laid anywhere that the bed bug fits. Usually they are laid near where the host sleeps. This allows freshly hatched nymphs to find a blood meal easily and quickly. Often eggs are found in seams of mattresses, inside or under box springs or mattress foundations, along cracks and crevices in bed frames, along base boards, and even under face plates in outlets. These areas provide darkness that the bed bug wants, space for them to live, and the perfect place for eggs.

Eggs are about the size of a pin head. They are white and often hard to see. However, shining a flash light can and does often help and when they are on a dark surface it is easier. They are wet and sticky when the female lays them so they stick to the object they have been laid on. Eggs take one to two weeks to hatch.

Stage One Nymphs.
Nymphs or larva are terms used for baby bed bugs. The first stage is the tiniest. These little bugs are often called pin heads because, like the eggs they came from, they are about the size of a pin head or about 1.5 millimeters. The nymphs are very pale, often white or cream in color. They blend in with mattresses and other light colored backgrounds. In order to move on in their life cycle they need to have a blood meal. One is all it takes and they turn a reddish brown color on their insides and prepare to move on to the next stage of their life.

Stage Two Nymphs.
After their first blood meal, bed bugs will molt and grow just a bit bigger. Now they will be about 2 millimeters. They will still be light colored before their next feeding and will still be hard to spot unless they have just eaten. Once again another meal is all they need before they are moving on.

Stage Three Nymphs.
After a second blood meal the bed bug nymphs will molt again and be about half a millimeter larger (at about 2.5 millimeters). At this point the nymph is getting darker and will be a creamy or golden color when not full of blood. It will take another meal before it moves on.

Stage Four Nymphs.
Coming in at about 3 millimeters is the stage four nymphs. Now it is getting a little larger and a little darker. Some describe these babies as being tan in color. They will need another meal before they can grow some more.

Stage Five Nymphs.
This is the final stage before adulthood. The nymphs that are at stage five are tan or light brown before their feeding. They are about 4.5 millimeters long and will need to eat on last time before adult hood.

Being a Nymph.
For a bed bug being a nymph is a process that depends very much on the temperatures of the area. If it is warm the whole process from the time that you hatch to the time that you are an adult will be about 3 weeks. On the other hand, if it is cold then it will take up to 3 months. This means that several days will go by while the nymph digests his or her food and molts into the next stage. If at some point in the nymph stages the food source is taken away the nymph will only last a few weeks before dying.

As an adult the bed bug is about 5.5 millimeters long, a brownish color (reddish after a meal), and looks a lot like an apple seed. It will feed every few days as long as their is a food source and it can live up to 10 months. In those 10 months the adult female will produce lots of eggs and deposit them in groups of three to five each day for as many as 800 eggs in her lifetime. It should also be noted that there is some evidence that a fertilized female will be able to lay fertile eggs for the rest of her life off of a male that is no longer there. If an adult food source is taken away they can go into hibernation and wait for a new food source for a long time. Most sources say that this hibernation can last as long as a year, but some research suggests it may be as long as 18 months.

The Complete Cycle.
Because of how the cycle works, bed bugs can quickly become a very large problem. Likely if you have found bed bugs in your bed it is because the problem is already of pretty good size. A female is likely to see her children born, her grand children, and even her great grand children before she passes away. If you can interrupt this and start getting rid of bed bugs then you will make a difference in your colony. Remember that for every bed bug you get rid of you are working toward your greater goal and that if you stay focused you will be able to get rid of them.

When working on getting rid of bed bugs understanding this cycle can help you to identify the problem at hand, help you to stop nymphs from growing using methods to keep them away from your bed, can help you trap adults and nymphs alike, and can make a huge difference in the growth of your population. It is important that you use a wide variety of methods to get rid of bed bugs, but each one that you get rid of is one more that won't be adding to your colony!