What Do Bed Bug Shedding Look Like

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It is not always possible to spot live bed bugs until the infestation has grown out of control, so early warning signs such as bed bug shedding are a reliable indicator that you have a pest problem. You, of course, need to know what to look out for since the shedding is easy to miss. Remember that a fully-grown female is capable of laying up to 500 eggs in her lifetime so it is imperative that you execute bed bug extermination in Toronto at the first sign of an infestation.

Do Bed Bugs Shed Their Skin

Adult bed bugs, nymphs, shed skins on a mattress.
Adult bed bugs, nymphs, shed skins on a mattress.

Strictly speaking, bed bugs do shed their ‘skin’. True to insects, bed bugs have an exoskeleton that they shed at least 5 times before maturity. This ‘skin’ once it’s shed is referred to as ‘casting’ or ‘shell’. The process of shedding is referred to as moulting.

The first shedding happens once the egg hatches into a nymph and casts off its eggshell. Next, the nymph goes through 5 developmental stages during which it sheds its shell each time, growing larger at each shedding. Once the bed bug reaches maturity it stops to moult and does not grow in size any further. An adult bed bug will, however, expand after a blood meal to about twice its original size.

The castings or shells you encounter therefore indicate juvenile bed bugs in the processes of growing rather than adult bed bugs. These casings are usually the first signs of an infestation.

You are less likely to encounter egg casings. These are white, oval in shape and about 1/16 of an inch in length. The size and colour alone make them hard to see with the naked eye although the casings may sometimes reflect lighting and draw attention themselves. Bed bug egg casings are difficult to tell apart from other common insects including cockroaches so you need to make sure that your diagnosis is correct before starting treatment.

Keep in mind that moulting or shedding skin is common in the insect world. Make sure that the castings aren’t of some other insect such as carpet beetles and cockroaches. It is helpful to compare the exoskeleton you find with online pictures to make sure you’re on the right track. Call an exterminator if you are having a hard time identifying the insects that cast its skin.

What to Know About Bed Bug Skin Shed

The primary reason why bed bugs and insects, in general, shed their skin is so they can grow. Some insects moult up to 60 times in their lifespan. There are a few bed bug skin shed facts that may prove useful to know mostly for identification and pest control purposes.

Bed Bugs, nymphs, eggs and shed skins.
Bed Bugs, nymphs, eggs and shed skins.

The size of the bed bug skin you find can give you a rough idea of how far along the infestation is in terms of development. It may be useful to know if you are largely dealing with nymphs or newly hatched eggs or mostly adult females that may be breeding. Below are the stages and corresponding casting sizes.

  1. Bed beg egg casting: 1 mm
  2. First nymph casting: 1.5 mm
  3. Second nymph casting: 2 mm
  4. Third nymph casting: 2.5 mm
  5. Fourth nymph casting: 3 mm
  6. Fifth nymph casting: 4.5 mm

A bed bug can only cast its skin after it has fed. The nymph has to have a blood meal at least once in each stage and can feed for up to 10 minutes at a time. The anesthetic in bed bug saliva temporary numbs the feeding area which is why you rarely feel the bite while you sleep.

Under perfect conditions, the nymph will moult once every week. Perfect conditions include a human host for a regular blood meal and a consistent temperature of between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, in poor conditions, the moulting is much slower and can take up to 6 months from hatching to adulthood.

Bed bugs usually live and gather in groups so you are likely to find collections of castings in close proximity rather than randomly strewn all over the house. Bed bug shells do not spread diseases although enough of these can trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses in people with respiratory issues. In rare cases, allergy-prone people may have severe skin reactions and outbreaks from coming into contact with bed bug casings. Wear a face mask or other protection when sweeping the casings to avid inhalation.

It may be useful to know where you are most likely to find bed bug skins. These are typically near the host so around your bed and particularly in the headboard and mattress seams is a good place to check. Couches, in air conditioners, along baseboards, where the ceilings meet the walls and in personal belongings such as books and clothes are also common areas.

Finding bed bug skins is a sure sign that you have an infestation. You may want to stop all activity at this point to avoid scuttling the pests everywhere and spreading the infestation to new places. It is much easier for the exterminator if he can pinpoint and isolate the affected areas and treat them accordingly. Call an exterminator as soon as you notice the problem.

Identifying Bed Bug Shedding

Identifying bed bug shedding is incredibly simple. The shedding looks like the bed bug walked out of its suit. The shedding looks a lot like an actual bed bug except that it is immobile and translucent in color. It is not uncommon to see a perfectly shaped shell complete with legs, antennae, proboscis and other identifiable body parts. The number of shells you spot may give you a rough idea of the extent of the infestation you are dealing with.

The typical bed bug will shed skin five times before reaching adulthood. The proper word for this shedding is to ‘Molt’ or moulting.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

There are plenty of DIY strategies suggested for getting rid of bed bugs but it is best to hire a professional pest control company in Ontario to perform the extermination.

Bed bugs are easy to misidentify and confuse for other common pests. This may lead to using the wrong extermination method or products which are ineffective.

Bed bugs hide in carpet fibres, cracks, cervices, in mattress seams and other hard-to-reach areas. Neglecting to treat all of the affected areas will only lead to an endless extermination cycle and recurring pest problem.

It is also worth noting that most over-the-counter pesticides and products do not contain the same potent active ingredients that the professionals use. Exterminators use tried and tested chemicals, methods and equipment to guarantee a successful removal. They also use eco-friendly chemicals that are not harmful to humans or pets.

Lastly, an exterminator can help you avoid a bed bug infestation in the future. Simply removing the pest problem doesn’t resolve the issue of how and why they got into your home in the first place.

Hire a pest control company that provides a warranty for the job for at least one year. Bed bugs can be difficult to exterminate so you need a guarantee that the problem is resolved permanently. Call the Exterminators at 647-496-2211 and we will deal with your bed bugs problem and guarantee the complete removal of these awful insects, we also offer bed bug control products in our online store.

Article Updated: September 26th, 2018

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Joe The Exterminator
Joe The Exterminator

Joe is a professional pest control exterminator with over 15 years of experience and enjoys sharing his knowledge about different pests and how you can deal with them.