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Help! I Found One Bed Bug…Are There More?

So the unthinkable has happened: You’ve found one bed bug. And now you’re frantically searching the Internet for assurance that bed bugs can and do travel alone.

We’re sad to say that you, in your unfortunate current predicament, are not alone.

Bed bugs are enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most hardened homeowner. There’s something deeply upsetting about a pest that not only can and will bite humans, but actively seeks us out as its primary food source.

Okay, so bed bugs don’t actually eat people in the way that a lion or a crocodile could. But they do suck blood, which is even creepier in a way.

Besides, your chances of finding an infestation of lions in your bed is low enough that you don’t need to lose any sleep over it. Bed bugs, on the other hand, are easy to pick up and easy to spread, and very difficult to get rid of once you have them.

So if you find a bed bug in your home, you’re probably going to be a little bit concerned completely horrified and ready to burn the whole place down.

It’s an understandable reaction.

And I’ll be honest; I wish I had good news for you. But if you’ve found one bed bug in your home, chances are good that it’s not alone.

To find out why, it’s time to hold our noses and take a dive into the disgusting world of bed bugs.

I Found One Bed Bug…Are There More?

We hate to break it to you but bed bugs love company.

You see, bed bugs aren’t social insects in the way that ants or wasps or termites are. They don’t care for their young, and they’re not particularly nice to each other.

But they do like to hang out together. Bed bugs congregate in warm areas close to a food source – that food source being humans and that delicious blood.

Bed bugs got their name from the habit of hiding in mattresses, bed frames and other areas close to where humans sleep.

Bed bugs can’t fly or jump. The only way for them to get to where they want to be is to crawl. But they can creep up to 100 feet in a single night in search of food.

And when they find a food source, they are reluctant to leave it. Think of them as an insect version of that annoying neighbor who shows up whenever there’s a hint that there might be some free food available.

Once the bed bug finds a nice place to hide close to a food source, it settles in. Worse, it emits what’s called an aggregation pheromone. This pheromone will attract other bedbugs to its location.

So having one bed bug in your home is a sure way to attract more. Word quickly gets out in the bed bug community, and when there’s a free meal available, bed bugs can’t keep that horrible needle mouth shut.

And Then There’s Baby Bed Bugs…

Aggregation pheromones are one thing. But the real risk of having a bed bug in your home comes from their frankly terrifying reproductive rate.

A female bed bug is a babymaking machine. She can lay over 200 eggs in her lifetime!

If possible, she’ll lay a few eggs every day, and those eggs will hatch in 6 to 10 days if temperatures are optimal.

Hey, guess what the optimal temperature for bed bugs is? Pretty much exactly the temperature humans are most comfortable at. The temperature we keep our homes at. Yeah.

Once the eggs have hatched, the newly emerged baby bed bugs – called nymphs, because that’s less cute – will go looking for a blood meal. They need this to grow, and they get it by biting you.

Bed bugs need to shed their exoskeleton to grow, and they do this in a process called molting. To reach adulthood, a newborn bed bug needs to molt five times.

It only takes around 100 days for a bed bug to reach full maturity.

If you’re prone to irrational optimism and thinking this doesn’t sound too bad, and that you have some time to deal with this problem, remember that that female will be laying eggs almost every day.

Once the first few nymphs reach maturity, they will be followed by other bugs that will reach maturity just a few days later. And this is where it gets truly gross. Because those newly adult bugs will start to breed.

Bed bugs reproduce sexually – as in, it requires a male and female to mate. However, once a female has been impregnated, she can lay eggs for months afterward.

Plus, if you are hoping that a population of bed bugs derived from a single female would start to suffer from birth defects caused by inbreeding, you’re out of luck.

Bed bugs are perfectly capable of mating with close relatives and producing viable eggs over and over again. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more disturbing.

Bed Bug Math Is Scary

Especially when it comes to bed bug numbers. Let’s crunch some figures on the reproductive potential of our initial adult female bed bug – Mary, we’ll call her.

Mary lays 200 eggs over her lifetime, which can be as short as 3 to 4 months. Of those eggs, roughly half will be female.

So in around 100 days, you now have 100 adult female bedbugs, ready to start families of their own. If each of these ladies lays one egg per day, that’s 100 new eggs being laid every day.

That’s a lot of bugs.

But remember, 100 days after Mary’s daughters have laid their first eggs, the first generation of Mary’s grandbugs will have reached maturity. On day 201, you could have 100 newly mated females laying their own first egg.

And the following day, 100 more females will become fully mature and begin to lay eggs.

And this will continue more or less forever. 

From a single adult female like Mary, a bed bug population could soar to 8000 adults within six months. That’s just a measly half year.

Worse, along with those 8000 adults, there will be tens of thousands of nymphs in various stages of the lifecycle, getting ready to grow and become adults themselves.

If we did nothing to stop them, we could probably carpet the entire earth in a crawling mass of live bed bugs within our lifetimes. Not sure why we would want to do that, but we could.

Is There Hope In All This?

Yes, bed bugs are a horror show. And if you find a single bed bug in your house, the chances are that there are more.

However, that’s not always true.

Bed bug populations are split roughly equally between male and female. If the single bed bug in your house is male, he’s not going to be laying any eggs.

Likewise, if the bed bug you found is not fully grown.

That would be the luckiest scenario for you, but as always, there is something else to consider – mainly, the question of where did this bed bug come from?

It’s an important question to ask if you find a bed bug in your home since bed bugs typically don’t travel outdoors. They spread by hitching a ride on people or more frequently, in furniture or luggage or other items that people transport.

Wherever this bed bug came from, there were probably more. So how do you know that this bed bug is a lone traveler? Unlike humans, they typically don’t blog about it.

The final answer is that if you found one bed bug, there is the tiny chance that you were lucky and managed to only pick up one traveling bed bug that happened to be a male.

But most people aren’t so lucky, especially when it comes to bed bugs. So if you find a bed bug in your home, no matter what stage of the lifecycle it is at, it’s best to assume that it’s not the only one.

Inspect your home carefully and if in doubt, call a professional. Bedbugs are a classic example of a problem that only gets worse if you ignore it.

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