No, bed bugs are not asexual. They do not have the anatomical or biological capabilities to reproduce asexually. They need both an egg from the female and sperm from the male to produce viable eggs for reproduction.
How do bed bugs reproduce?
Like most insects, the bed bug’s life cycle starts with an egg. Bed bug eggs are oval-shaped and are around one millimeter long. They can be translucent to pearly white in color.
The egg will hatch into a baby bed bug, or a nymph. Nymphs look a lot like adult bed bugs but they are smaller and are lighter in color.
The nymph will go through five stages, also called instars. At the end of each instar, the bed bug will molt and shed its shell. After the fifth instar, the bed bug becomes an adult bed bug.
When the bed bug has reached full maturity, it is ready to reproduce. The male bed bug will use a specialized hardened reproductive organ to stab through the female’s shell in order to inject its sperm. This process is called traumatic insemination. The sperm will make its way through the female’s body until it reaches the eggs. The eggs will become fertilized, then the female bed bug is ready to lay them.
The female lays up to five eggs a day, and will lay over 200 eggs in its lifetime. The eggs are covered in a glue-like substance that keeps them in place where they were laid.
The bed bug goes from an egg to a sexually mature adult in about two months.
Can bed bugs reproduce asexually?
No, bed bugs are unable to reproduce asexually. They come from eggs, and these eggs need the male to fertilize them.
Asexual reproduction, on the other hand, is when a living thing reproduces without mating. The animal or insect usually splits and recombines its genetic material to produce an entirely new being.
Bed bugs need to mate to create viable eggs that will turn into healthy bed bugs. The genetic material from both a male and a female are necessary.
It is a blessing that bed bugs cannot reproduce asexually, because infestations will spread faster if they did.
Does a male bed bug lay eggs?
No, male bed bugs cannot lay eggs. They do not have the anatomical structures to create eggs nor fertilize them to be able to lay them. Only females that have been inseminated by a male can lay eggs.
When do bed bugs mate?
Bed bugs do not have a strict timetable of when the mate. They mate and lay their eggs pretty much all year round. This is why they are so good at taking over entire households, they are relentless.
The fact that bed bugs have evolved to living mostly inside homes in places with controlled temperatures, they can go about multiplying without worrying about the weather.
The one thing that is consistent when it comes to bed bug mating is that they will do it right after feeding. This is because a males sperm is more successful when they are healthy, and a female’s eggs are at their most viable after they have also fed. Blood is the only food source bed bugs have and it is essential in making sure that the bed bug’s eventual offspring are 100% healthy, for the continuation of the species.
How many eggs does a female bed bug lay?
If a female bed bug has a constant source of food, it will lay between 200 to 250 eggs in its lifetime. Because bed bug mating is literally called traumatic insemination, the process will cause scarring and also the reason why a female can only get pregnant a limited amount of times. Their bodies go through a lot of damage throughout the reproduction.
A female that has had ample time to recover after mating produces healthier eggs than one that has only had a short time in between pregnancies. Oftentimes a female bed bug will avoid males if it feels that it is not yet ready to be pregnant again.
One pregnant bed bug can start a colony of 5,000 bugs in half a year by itself.
How soon after mating does a bed bug lay eggs?
Bed bugs lay their eggs not that long after mating. They do not really have a gestation period they need to follow because the sperm inseminates the eggs quickly. In a few days, the eggs are ready to be laid. Because bed bugs do not have to wait for their offspring to develop before laying more eggs, they have no problem consistently producing eggs.
After laying her eggs, the female may venture away from the harborage to get away from the males who will most certainly try to impregnate her. She will need time alone for the insemination wound to become a scar.
The female will find a new harborage and lay her new eggs there for the next six to eight weeks, until she will need to mate again.
Where does a bed bug lay its eggs?
Female bed bugs are quite picky about where they lay their eggs. They like areas that are hidden and away from disturbance.
You may find bed bugs on the bottom of your mattress. They like that area because it is dark, undisturbed, and is very close to the food source. The edges and seams of the mattress are great for bed bugs to squeeze into and will keep their eggs safe.
The underside of the furniture near your bed is also a hotspot for female bed bugs. It is also dark and rarely touched.
In your living room, bed bugs love the couch and any other upholstered furniture.
They might even seek shelter in the cracks on your wall or inside electrical outlets.
No, bed bugs are not asexual. In order for eggs to become viable, it needs genetic material from both a male and a female bed bug. Neither the female and male bed bug have the anatomical nor the biological capabilities of reproducing by themselves.
Image: istockphoto.com / John-Reynolds