One of the most common questions about bed bugs is, “Do bed bugs need a mate to reproduce?” Luckily for us, bed bugs do not require a mate to reproduce. This is because they only need to mate once every six to eight weeks to produce fertile eggs. This means that a single female bed bug can start a new infestation. Female bed bugs have no social structure, so they will happily mate with any male to produce an offspring.
Female bed bugs lay eggs on their hosts. Male bed bugs can also mate with females by piercing the abdomen with a needle-like organ. Once inside, the sperm fertilizes the eggs inside the ovaries. Once fertilized, the eggs hatch after seven to ten days. In about five weeks, the juvenile bed bugs become adults. The adult female can lay up to 200 eggs in her lifetime.
After hatching from the egg, bed bugs seek a blood meal to feed their growing bodies. It takes three days for a nymph to digest the blood meal and shed its shell before seeking out the next meal. Once this stage of life is completed, bed bugs will feed regularly throughout their life. The feeding process is vital to their reproduction, so bed bugs will continue to feed until they are fully grown.
While bed bugs will continue to breed until death, they can only reproduce so many times in their lifetime. This means that they can only lay a limited number of eggs during their lifespan, and the traumatic insemination process leaves a scar on the abdomen of the female. This scar can interfere with the reproductive process and make it difficult for the female to lay an egg.