Like everything else in life, bed bugs have certain stages they go through from the time they are born until the time they die. It’s important to know what these stages are so that you can identify them and even determine how long you’ve had an infestation. If you find few adults for example but lots of nymphs, the infestation is likely still in its early stages.
Bed bugs start their life as an egg. These are milky white in color. These are extremely small, typically only one millimeter in length, which is no larger than a couple of grains of salt placed side by side and look like a miniaturized grain of white rice.
Once bed bugs come out of their eggs, they enter the five stages of nymphs called instars. The first instar is when they first hatch. They will start feeding right away, but they will not mate until they are fully mature. A blood meal is required to move to each subsequent instar stage. At this stage nymphs are only about 1.5 millimeters in size.
From the first instar, bed bugs will molt into a second instar. They will remain largely the same, but will be approximately 2 millimeters in length. During the third nymph instar, the bed bug will grow to be about 2.5 millimeters in length. In the fourth instar stage, bed bugs are approximately three millimeters long, while they grow to 4.5 millimeters in the fifth nymph stage.
After going through all five nymph stages, the bed bug is then officially an adult. They will have a lifespan of four to six months in most cases, although it’s not unheard of to hear of bed bugs living up to one year. After the bed bugs have become fully mature adults, they will begin to breed and start the life cycle all over again.