Bed bugs have been a source of annoyance for centuries, and their hunger for blood is well known – what isn’t frequently discussed is how they get around.
Have you ever wondered do bed bugs fly or jump? Thankfully the answer to both questions is ‘no’.
So then – how do these persistent pests move from place to place? Get ready as we explore some fascinating facts about bed bug movement!
Common Myths About Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are an unfortunate reality, but misconceptions about them can spread quickly. To help arm you with accurate information and prevent the spreading of the wrong information, here’s a look at some common misunderstandings when it comes to their behavior and biology.
That Bed Bugs can Fly:
- This is one of the most popular misconceptions about bed bugs. Fortunately, they lack wings and thus cannot fly.
Bed Bugs Can Jump:
- Bed bugs cannot jump they can only crawl. They can climb up walls and on different surfaces within the home.
Bed Bugs Reproduce Rapidly:
- People think because bed bugs are usually found in large colonies, they reproduce quickly. But compared to other insects, these bloodsucking critters reproduce very slowly. For instance, a female bedbug lays just one egg a day, while a housefly produces about 500 eggs within four days.
Some Bed Bugs Can Live up to a Year Without Food:
- A bed bug can live up to 12 months without food in a home, but there is a catch. This feat is only achievable in a cold environment. In the cold their metabolism will significantly slow down, allowing them to live a year without feeding.
But at a standard room temperature of around 23 degrees Celsius, these insects can only survive up to three months without food.
Bed Bugs Body Structure and Flying
The biology of Bed Bugs
The body shape of a common bed bug resembles an apple seed or lentil. Hatchlings on the other hand are the size of a poppy seed.
Normally, an adult bed bug can grow up to about 5 millimeters in length.
In terms of color, bed bugs can range in color from transparent when they are hatched to burnt orange or brown as adults. However, they redden themselves after a meal of blood.
Bed bugs are part of Cimicidae – an insect family whose members feed wholly on blood.
Scientifically, bed bugs are called Cimex lectularius and go through five developmental life stages that last six to 12 months.
The Seven Stages are:
- Eggs 1 mm
- First stage nymph 1.5 mm
- Second stage nymph 2 mm
- Third stage nymph 2.5 mm
- Fourth stage nymph 3 mm
- Fifth stage nymph 4.5 mm
- Adult 5.5 mm
The Anatomy of a Bed Bug’s Body
As insects, bed bugs have three body parts and six legs. The body parts are – the abdomen, thorax, and head. But anatomically, bed bugs have seven sections – head, wing pad, abdomen, antenna, clypeus, pronotum, and leg.
Why Bed Bugs Can’t Fly
These wing pads indicate where insect wings would normally develop as it matures, but in adult bed bugs, these are only vestigial wings.
This means that the wings do not develop fully and therefore they never gain the capability to fly. It is said that once upon a time, bed bugs had wings, but evolution happened and over time, they did not need them.
How Do Bed Bugs Move?
Since bed bugs do not have wings, how do they move? They crawl and hitch a ride on anything available.
Bed Bugs How They Travel
In most instances, bed bugs move from one place to another when they cling to people’s clothes, furniture, luggage, or linens. People will then transport the insects from place to place quicker than if the bed bugs had to crawl.
Although bed bugs are not like lice, which travel from person to person, they can travel on human clothes and other belongings. This way, humans can spread bed bugs unknowingly to others.
Bed bugs are super “hitchhikers” and depend on people for transportation. A common way people bring bed bugs home is by coming to contact with a place that has bed bugs.
If you transport a female bed bug that has mated, she will begin to populate your home with new bloodsucking critters.
A male bed bug cannot cause an infestation since they don’t have ovaries and therefore, it cannot lay eggs.
The Role of Pheromones in Bed Bugs’ Movement
Pheromones are simply chemical signals produced by one insect to prompt a behavioral change in another. Transporting a single bed bug into your home if caught quickly can limit or stop a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, in most cases, a bed bug is not alone.
We found a bed bug on our couch and we quickly quarantined the living room and I sprayed Temprid. I checked the couch and area for weeks and found nothing. So we got lucky and found that bed bug before it multiplied and spread throughout the home.
Bed bugs emit pheromones that cause them to gather in clusters, making it easier to accidentally transport a whole group of bed bugs.
Understanding Bed Bug Movement for Pest Control
Although it is often a difficult task to eliminate bed bug infestations, learning their movement can make it easier to permanently get rid of bed bugs.
Most pest control professionals have a strong understanding of bed bug movement and behavior. This knowledge makes it so they can help you get rid of bed bug infestations.
Although bed bugs have wing pads, the wings are vestigial and thus they cannot fly. However, they can crawl to move around from place to place.
The most effective mode of transportation for bed bugs is clinging to people, luggage, or furniture.
Using pheromones, bed bugs gather in a group and can hide in a person’s clothing, purse, luggage, or used furniture. This is how they can be transported from place to place.
Once they are in a new environment, they will reproduce by laying eggs (female bed bugs), which undergo five stages of development to become adults.