During the winter months here in Oklahoma, I find that more and more people call in to my business with bed bug concerns. Do I have an infestation? Can bed bug bites spread disease? How long do bed bugs live on clothes. But the question I most often get is… How easily do bed bugs spread?
First of all, bed bugs do not spread by flying, because they have no wings. They crawl quickly for their size at about two or three feet per minute. This is fast enough to move undetected from mattress to a pillow or the floor, or from hiding spot to hiding spot. They can also hitch a ride on someones clothing or personal belongings. This is usually how they move larger distances, and infest a new home. At this rate, they are not going to lunge at you from across the room, and this can put most people’s minds at ease.
Bed bugs are not attracted to dirty homes any more than they are attracted to clean ones. But they are excellent hiders. This means that the more clutter in your home, the more places they have to hide. Where bed bugs hiding abilities really shine is in cloth, which is their favorite hiding spot. And, of course, this is where they get their name from.
Bed bugs love hiding in mattresses and pillows, because they feed on blood. The energy that they get from that blood gives them the ability to move to the next stage of their life cycle, which is usually mating and laying eggs. The average adult female can lay up to 541 eggs in their lifetime. That means that a single bed bug can reproduce enough to create an infestation in a fairly short time.
So how long does it take to go from a bed bug hitching a ride to a full infestation? Well, if a female that is fertilized hitches a ride on your pants leg, and finds a way into your mattress, she will lay about 100 eggs in the first month. About 50-60 will have hatched and be nymphs (baby bed bugs), and 30-40 will still be eggs waiting to hatch.
In the second month, about ten of those nymphs will have reached reproductive age, with another 200 bed bugs behind it, at varying stages of development. Its at this stage that you may first start to notice that you have a problem. Small red and black stains will appear on your mattress, and you will probably start to notice small bites on your skin. This is the best time to call an exterminator, like TermMax Pest Control, to come inspect and treat your home.
By the third month, we have reached infestation status. There will be around a hundred breading adults, thousands of nymphs and around 600 eggs. Over population will start to push the bed bugs to migrate to other rooms at this point. Bed bugs can live up to 12 months without a blood meal and still survive, so if it takes a while to get to another blood source, they can.
At six months, the numbers start to get staggering. Eight thousand reproductive adults, hundreds of thousands of nymphs and fifty to sixty thousand eggs will fill your home. At this point, every room in the house is probably infested.