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Bed bugs eggs are hard to destroy. Usually, pesticides and natural treatments effectively kill off adults and babies (called larvae) but the eggs somehow soldier on. This is why you need at least two treatments from a professional exterminator. The second treatment kills off all the newly hatched larvae that could not be killed when the larvae were still in the eggs. When checking your home or vehicle for bed bugs, an exterminator looks not only for droppings, adults and larvae but also for eggs and bed bug casings.
How To Spot Bed Bug Egg Casings
Bed bug eggs cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are only one millimeter long, rice-shaped and pearly-white. A magnifying glass helps to see the eggs and bed bug casings. Casings are shed exoskeletons. Larvae go through five molts before they become breeding adults. Casings are easier to spot than eggs.
What Do Bed Bug Casing Look Like?
Have you ever seen a snake's shed skin? Casings from bed bug larvae look similar, but they are not snake-shaped or anywhere near as large. They are only a few millimeters long at the most. They do look like pale or translucent tan pieces of old snakeskin. You may need a UV flashlight to help you search for bed bugs, eggs and casings.
Good places to look for bed bug casings include:
- Where any person sleeps, such as couch or bed.
- Creases, seams and crevices in mattresses, couch cushions, box springs or headboards.
- On the floor around or behind where you sleep, especially the edges of carpets or cracks in floorboards.
- Around the baseboards in a sleeping room.
- Under or on any furniture in a sleeping room.
- Behind any tears in the wallpaper.
- Behind posters, pictures or any wall hangings.
Although sometimes exterminators and entomologists (scientists who study bugs) call casings “skins” they are not skins. They are exoskeletons. Bed bugs, like all other insects, have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies. This means when they have to grow, they need to get rid of their smaller exoskeletons and grow new ones. If you'd like to see a comparison chart of eggs, larvae and adults, check out this one at the website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like?
Bed bug eggs are roughly rice-shaped, about one millimeter long, hard and are a pearly-white. When the egg is five days old, it develops two little black dots. These are the eyes of the larvae inside of the egg. The eggs are see-through, but they are tough and yes, they are hard. They are usually found in clusters. The female lays not only eggs but a glue-like substance that makes the eggs stick to whatever surface unlucky enough to support them. This makes the eggs incredibly difficult to dislodge.
If you search for bed bugs eggs against anything white or pale-colored such as white furniture or a white baseboard or white wallpaper, then you are in for a big problem. The eggs will blend in with the pale colors of the object they are stuck on. Just look for adults or bed bug droppings on pale-colored surfaces. You could overlook hundreds of eggs and drive yourself half-crazy otherwise.
Bed Bug Egg Facts
One adult female bed bug lays an average of 225 eggs in her life. She does not lay them all at once. She only lays one or two eggs at a time. She can lay up to twelve times in a day. She may stay in a good hiding place for days, depositing eggs every now and then. Before she can lay her eggs, she needs to drink blood. She does not need to feed every night. In fact, she can go for two or three months without eating.
Eggs in room temperature hatch in about six to ten days. If it's cooler, it will take longer for them to hatch. Eggs have been known to survive a cold snap or throughout the winter, waiting for the temperature to rise. However, extreme cold and extreme heat can kill the larvae inside of bed bug eggs.
A Warning About Vacuuming to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Although bed bug infestations take a long time to get rid of, one effective way to get rid of a lot of bed bugs and bed bug casings is with a basic vacuum cleaner. Vacuum whatever you can, from soft furniture to the floors and, if possible, your mattress. The heat is high enough to kill whatever larvae and adults vacuumed up.
However, the heat is not often high enough to destroy eggs. Eggs have been known to survive vacuuming, mature normally in the vacuum. After hatching, the babies crawl out and infest your home. The easy way to avoid this is to empty your vacuum canister or change the bag immediately after vacuuming. Place the contents or used bag in an outside trash bin.
What Kills Bed Bug Eggs Naturally?
There are ways to destroy eggs without pesticides. The way pesticides usually work is by coming into contact with the bug and killing it. Since the larvae are safe in the egg, the pesticides do not harm the larvae. There are other and more natural ways to destroy the eggs.
Virginia Tech entomologist Dini M. Miller, PhD notes that the average clothes dryer placed on the highest setting will kill bed bugs at all stages of life, including the eggs. All laundered buggy items need to be in the dryer for at least 30 minutes. Launder anything with bed bug casings, droppings or if adults are present if possible. These include bedding, curtains, clothes, stuffed animals, shoes, soft-sided luggage and cushions.
There are exterminators who do whole-home heat treatments instead of using pesticides. These treatments also destroy eggs. You do have to prep your home extensively for heat treatments, since the bugs and eggs need to be exposed to heat for hours in order to die.
If you can't place valuable items in the wash or vacuum them to expose bugs and eggs to extreme cold, try the opposite – extreme heat. Place small items like jewelry or electronics without LCD screens that won't be damaged by water or ice into a resealable plastic bag and then stick in the freezer. The University of Minnesota recommends that the temperature be set at zero degrees F. Leave in the freezer for at least four whole days.
How to Properly Get Rid of Unsalvageable Mattresses and Furniture
Most of the time, your furniture and mattresses do not need to be replaced when you have bed bugs. Ripped, torn mattresses and furniture do need to be tossed. Since they may house bed bugs and eggs, you need to be sure that you do not get your bed bugs in someone else's home (even if they really deserve it.) You could wind up being liable for any costs someone else gets from taking in your old stuff, even if you did clearly leave it out for the trash.
Here are the steps from the EPA to properly get rid of egg-infested stuff:
- Break or otherwise destroy your infected stuff so no one will want to take it. Snapping off or unscrewing a leg is a good idea.
- Remove stuffing and cushions when possible and place in separate trash bags. Place drawers in separate bags if tossing a bureau or filing cabinet.
- Call your local council or township to get your furniture or mattresses removed quickly. If they can't do it, you need to take them to a dump.
- Paint “BED BUGS” on mattresses or large furniture to make their condition blatantly obvious.
Bed bug casings or shed exoskeletons are easier to see than eggs. Casing looks like bits of dried skin. Casings or eggs are signs you have bed bugs. Other signs include getting bed bug bites and seeing smears or red or brown on your bedding or furniture. Those are droppings. Eggs are harder to destroy than adults or babies but extreme heat or extreme cold can do the job. Be sure to dispose of your unsalvageable mattresses and furniture responsibly.