Is there anything worse than snuggling into bed, flipping the pillow to the cool side, and trying to have a great night of sleep, when all of a sudden you feel a bite on your leg?
And it’s not just any bite, but it’s a baby bed bug looking for its next blood meal! Baby bed bugs, also known as nymphs, get really active at night and love to live inside your box springs or behind your baseboards.
As far as infestations of pests go, this is truly one of the worst. They come in sneakily after hotel stays or in thrift store clothing. And because they can last so long without eating and withstand such large temperature variations, they are very difficult to get rid of.
- Bed Bugs: Stages of Development
- What they Look Like
- Can You See them with the Naked Eye?
- Biting, Blood-Sucking Baby Bed Bugs
- How Do Baby Bed Bugs Make Babies?
- Catch Them if You Can
- Bugs That Are Mistaken for Baby Bed Bugs
- How Do They Get in Your House?
- Travel Tips to Avoid Unwanted Stowaways
- How Can You Get Them Out of Your House?
Bed Bugs: Stages of Development
Baby bed bugs go through five stages of development before they reach adulthood. In order to achieve each subsequent stage, they need to do a blood-feeding. If humans are not available they will turn to birds or bats.
If they cannot find someone or something to bite, baby bed bugs can last 3-4 months without feeding. However, normal development is about one week per stage, so it takes five weeks to go from a baby to an adult. They are picky about the temperature, and 50 degrees Fahrenheit is their ideal temperature to go through each stage and molt.
The adults want to eat every 3-5 days. They live for 6-12 months, so if they find a good host, they could be around for quite a while.
What they Look Like
Baby bed bugs are the size of the head of a pin, and they are translucent and tan in color. After they bite people and are gorged with blood, they become red. Baby bed bugs are also flat, making it so easy for them to hide anywhere.
An adult bed bug looks the same as the baby, flat and oval in shape, only bigger. They are about the size of an apple seed after they go through their molting stages. Each time they enjoy a blood meal, they turn red.
Can You See them with the Naked Eye?
Yes, you can see adult bed bugs. Although they try to hide in small cracks or narrow spots, they are visible to the naked eye. You can even see baby bed bugs, especially after they dine and turn red from the blood. They are about the size of a sesame seed.
You can also see what they leave behind. You may notice their skins as they molt to the next stage, and five stages of development is a lot of molting! You also might spot brown stains on your mattress, smell their musty sweet odor, or see the telltale red bumps or irritation after they have bitten you.
Where are They?
Because baby bed bugs can last so long without a meal, and because they love to slip into narrow places, they really could be anywhere.
They do favor the bedroom, because they like to stay close to their next meal, and could be hiding behind headboards, baseboards, peeling wallpaper, or picture frames. Of course, they also crave the inside of furniture, box springs, or mattress seams.
In order to keep the bed bugs at bay, keep your bedroom clutter-free, and clean the mattress and box spring vigorously. Scrubbing with a wire brush will dislodge laid eggs, and then you can vacuum up the mattress, box springs, and surrounding areas.
You may want to consider a mattress cover, but leave it on for a full year since they can live so long without feeding. This one has been a success for many people in fighting bed bugs.
Biting, Blood-Sucking Baby Bed Bugs
To be technical, baby bed bugs do not bite their host, so much as they puncture them. A stylet, or hollow tube, protrudes from their head, looking for a host to puncture. The blood meal can last up to 10 minutes.
In order to always have a blood meal, baby bed bugs want to stay close to their sleeping hosts, The baby bed bugs will then stay close to their sleeping hosts, usually hiding in a narrow hiding place like a mattress seam. These nocturnal creatures prefer feeding time from midnight to 5 am.
How Do Baby Bed Bugs Make Babies?
Baby bed bugs lay eggs in small groups; they are approximately 1 mm and yellow or white in color. The eggs attach to the surface where they are laid with a cement-like substance. A female can lay about 500 eggs in her lifetime, laying about 1-2 a day.
After the egg is laid, a baby bed bug will take about 1-2 weeks to hatch. They enter the world as a sesame seed-sized whitish bundle of joy. Unfortunately, bed bugs can double their population in about 16 days.
Catch Them if You Can
Baby bed bugs are not only extreme speedsters in reproduction, but also movement, and can cover a meter of space in one minute. Considering how tiny they are, that is quite a feat! To put it in perspective, this is like a human running 4.5 football field lengths in 60 seconds.
If you are able to spot the bed bugs in action, you should consider something like this spray as a first line of defense. Although the bed bugs move fast, this aerosol spray moves faster!
Bugs That Are Mistaken for Baby Bed Bugs
There are a few bugs that always get mistaken for bed bugs. Cockroach nymphs and fleas and ticks are among the most common. You can be pretty sure you have bed bugs, however, if you continue to wake up with red welts on your body.
How Do They Get in Your House?
Baby bed bugs don’t just crawl in from the outside. Usually, you unknowingly carry them into your house yourself. They might hitch a ride in your suitcase or pajamas after you stay in an infested hotel. Additionally, if you buy second-hand clothing and furniture, the baby bed bugs could be tucked in there.
Remember, baby bed bugs can last 3-4 months without a blood meal, so they could easily hang on to your belongings or hand-me-downs before they make their presence known.
Travel Tips to Avoid Unwanted Stowaways
Often, people unknowingly bring home nymphs or bed bugs home from a hotel, even a fancy one. There are several tips to avoid this possibility the next time you travel.
- Don’t unpack your suitcase, but leave everything inside. This way your clothes can’t pick up bugs in closets or dressers.
- Survey the room when you get there. You can see bed bugs with your naked eye and their telltale dark stains.
- When you return home, wash your clothes immediately with the hottest water and hottest dryer setting you can.
- Store your suitcase far away from your bedroom in an attic or basement to reduce the risk of bugs in your bed.
How Can You Get Them Out of Your House?
Honestly, a bed bug infestation is difficult to get rid of on your own. They are too fast, too flat, and can make their home anywhere. Also, they can wait months and months to feed and survive harsh temperature changes.
If your clothes or bedding are infested with bed bugs and you cannot possibly part with them, then place the materials in an airtight bag and place it in the freezer. It won’t take long until the bed bugs are dead. Leave the bag there for at least 48 hours to be sure.
Alternately, you can wash the garments and bed clothes in extremely hot water, which will kill the bed bugs. Make sure to run the infested clothes in their own load. Additionally, use the hottest dry cycle the clothing can stand to make sure they are dead.
If the laundry doesn’t appeal to you, or you have too many frozen veggies to make room for your clothes, try a spray to get rid of the bed bugs. You don’t want to use harsh chemicals in your bedroom, so you can try a non-toxic spray like this one.
Dealing with bed bugs takes time and patience. If you are worried about the long-haul, this long-lasting spray can be pretty effective. It lasts up to 16 weeks in getting rid of the bedbugs.
Call a Professional
Baby bed bugs are hardy creatures, and their pesky punctures can cause you sleepless nights. When all else fails, call a trained professional to exterminate the bugs from your home. This takes the pressure off of you and will soon lead to more restful nights.
Unfortunately, baby bed bugs are easy to acquire and hard to get rid of, unless you’re prepared to go to great lengths such as introducing natural bed bug predators in your home. They are fast at moving and procreating and very patient in waiting for their next meal.
Make sure to follow the tips above to avoid bringing them home in the first place, but if the worst happens, there are some avenues to send them packing so that you can return to your regular sleep schedule.