Bed Bug Behavior and Biology

About Thorn

Thorn is a local Utah pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded to less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

black and orange bed bugs

Bed Bug Behavior and Biology 

In any pest control program, pest assessment and identification are vital, and bed bugs are no exception.

Assessment for bed bugs involves looking the issue from multiple angles. During the assessment process, the goals are:

  • Positively identify bed bugs and their hiding spots
  • Determine what sources may be contributing to bed bug activity
  • Formulate a management plan specific to the building or property

Proper bed bug assessment and identification require ample experience, proper tools, and knowledge of the best available control methods available.

What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly?

If you know pest control, you know that one of the most common questions regardless of pest or circumstances is “what will kill this instantly?”

Wanting to kill a pest instantly is completely understandable, especially when it’s a pest that causes as much stress, disruption and irritation as bed bugs do. The problem is that instantly killing a pest may kill the pest(s) you’re seeing initially, but it doesn’t address the long-term causes. 

Rather than looking to kill bed bugs instantly, think about killing bed bugs effectively. This is the only way you’re going to keep bed bug populations down in the long run. 

Also understand that effective bed bug control requires ongoing effort. It’s not a one-and-done solution and there are often multiple steps needed to get an issue under control.

SOME QUICK ADVICE FROM THORN: Don’t fall for the companies looking to make a quick buck on a bed bug job. You could end up spending $20,000+ on unnecessary treatments. 

If you have a pest company come out to your property, do your research and ask lots of questions. Be prepared that you might need to shop around a bit, but keep in mind that price should not be your primary focus when it comes to bed bug treatments. The best companies are not always the cheapest, but they will know how to make treatments as easy and low stress for you as possible.

Avoid companies that provide a laundry list of to-dos in order to prep, and as tempting as it might be, don’t opt for a “bug bomb”. These treatments are initially very disruptive for bed bugs but can make the problem worse over time.

Bed Bug Bites 

Bed bugs feed on blood. Their favorite is human blood, but in a pinch, they’re happy to feed off cats, dogs, mice or even hamsters. Bed bugs have 1-3 blood meals per week and their feedings can last anywhere from 3-12 minutes.

Not everyone has the same reaction to bed bug bites. Some people are highly allergic and get severe red welts, while others have no reaction at all. There has also been evidence of delayed reaction to bed bug bites, meaning bites may be present but not appear for up to 14 days on some individuals. Due to the level of varied reactions, bites alone are not enough to positively identify the presence of bed bugs.

Bed Bug Reproduction 

Bed bugs have one purpose: to multiply and complete their life cycle. 

Blood meals keep bed bug females sustained for egg-laying. Female bed bugs are egg laying machines and will lay 2-3 eggs per day. Their eggs hatch in 7-10 days and as long as the nymphs (baby bed bugs) have access to blood, they will be mature, reproducing adults in one to two months.

All it takes is one adult female bed bug to cause an infestation. Once she’s brought in, she’ll start laying eggs and in one to two months, there will be lots more adults to carry on the lifecycle once she’s gone.

SOME QUICK ADVICE FROM THORN: The average life span of a bed bug can be anywhere from 6-18 months, but they can live for extended periods of time without feeding (as long as 6-12 months!). 

Bed bugs can hide out in cracks and crevices, unfed and waiting for you, their preferred food source, to return. It is in part because of the bed bug’s mysterious nature and ability to go for extended periods without eating that can make ongoing control a challenge.

What Causes Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs have been living around people since the beginning of the written word. Possibly longer. 

Bed bugs were mostly eradicated throughout the U.S. during the 1940s and 1950s due to heavy use of now banned chemicals such as DDT. As time went on, bed bugs developed resistance to DDT. Other insecticides were recommended for control of bed bugs, and it wasn’t until the 2000s when bed bugs made their big U.S. comeback and populations began to climb exponentially. 

Bed bugs appeared and have become more widespread over the years due to the following:

  • An increase in human population, meaning more food available for bed bugs
  • Increased global travel
  • Over-use, under-use and incorrectly applied insecticide treatments
  • Populations of bed bugs developing resistance to modern pesticides
  • A rise in the popularity of thrifting (especially the purchase of used furniture)

Generations born after bed bugs had been eradicated benefited from their absence so much that people became ignorant of their existence. The general population had no idea what bed bugs looked like anymore, or what a headache they had been for previous generations.

When bed bugs did start to pop up here and there, they went largely unaddressed because people were none the wiser, allowing these cryptic creatures to quietly multiply undetected until the mid-2000s when bed bugs began popping up a lot more, first in urban areas and then spreading into more rural communities.

SOME QUICK ADVICE FROM THORN: As of 2022, bed bugs have become widespread in the U.S., and they’re not going away anytime soon. Unsurprisingly, they first appeared in places like hotels, apartments, and other multi-family dwellings. The conditions of these buildings provide the perfect conditions for bed bugs to spread and multiply quickly.

Whether you’re located in Utah or elsewhere, Thorn Pest Solutions can help. We have extensive expertise in the area of bed bugs, and even if we can’t physically perform your bed bug service, our owner (and president of the Utah Pest Management Association) Kevin Thorn is available for consulting work, as well as employee trainings and speaking engagements.

If you happen to be located in Utah and you need a professional and well-prepared pest control company to help address your bed bug issue, Thorn is the team you’re looking for. With years of bed bug experience and training under our belts, we’ll come prepared to handle any issue those nasty little bed bug creepers might throw at us.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs 

Proper control of bed bugs starts with prevention. If you can keep bed bugs out, it will save you a lot of time and energy, but don’t fret if they’ve already moved in. There are things that can be done to remedy the situation. Just be prepared that it may take some time.

If your building or property is at high-risk for a bed bug problem, take the following steps to avoid a bed bug problem:

  1. Educate your tenants, staff and other people on the premises on how to avoid bed bugs and how to identify them should something arise
  2. Have routine professional inspections completed to make sure your spaces stay free of bed bugs
  3. Schedule preventative treatments with a licensed pest professional on an as needed basis

If you believe bed bugs have already established themselves inside, there are several tools available to pest control operators to get control of the problem, including:

  • Detection using visual inspection, monitors and specially trained dogs
  • Carefully applied, targeted pesticide applications
  • Heat treatments

Frequently Asked Bed Bug Questions

What do bed bug bites look like?

About the size of an apple seed, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye. Their appearance details vary depending on where they are in their development and whether they have just eaten or not, but adult bed bugs have long, flat, ovular bodies that balloon and turn more reddish  in color after a bloodmeal (feeding). 

What is the main cause of bed bugs?

Pretty much as far back as human history goes, we have record of bed bug activity present around humans. Bed bugs are known as synanthropic, meaning they live closely with humans. This is because humans provide them with their ideal food source: human blood. 

If bed bugs are inside your home or workplace, they were brought inside by someone. They are most likely to hitch a ride inside, hiding discreetly in the seams of  items such as:

  • Clothing
  • Luggage
  • Purses, bags or briefcases
  • Shoes
  • On someone’s person

How do you get bed bugs to go away?

Bed bug control and removal requires proper identification first and foremost, which is best completed using a trained bed bug dog and handler. Once bed bug activity has been identified and located by the dog(s), a professional pest control company will formulate a treatment and control plan specific to each individual property.

Can a person see a bed bug? 

Bed bugs can be spotted with the naked eye but given that bed bugs are excellent at hiding and can be confused with other household pests such as carpet beetles and clover mites, as well as other cimicids such as bat bugs. This can make identification tricky, and bites are not adequate proof of an infestation. It’s important to actually find bed bugs inside for proper identification and treatment,

What to do if you slept in a bed with bed bugs? 

Whether you’re staying in a hotel, AirBNB or other stay, try and remember to look for bed bugs before you use the bed or furniture. Don’t set any bags or items on the bed or furniture before you look. If it’s too late and bed bug exposure has already occurred, take steps to avoid bringing them inside when you go back home. Look over all bags and luggage inside and out, send all clothing and bedding through a high heat dryer, and keep your eyes open around your home in case an issue pops up.