If you were dealing with just one bed bug, your battle would be easy and short-lived. Unless, of course, that bed bug were the size of your cat, or even of a tarantula.
But the real horror of bed bugs is that an infestation means you are fighting an entire, constantly reproducing, population.
You must learn how to kill bed bug eggs, or else, even when every unhatched bed bug has been eradicated, your efforts will be in vain. And if even a single impregnated female bed bug escapes, the infestation continues.
Read on to learn to identify bed bug eggs, bed bug larvae, and likely bed bug egg “hatch houses.” Find out how to kill the eggs before they hatch and become a mob of bloodthirsty little nymphs crawling atop your mattress at night.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Eggs and Larvae
Bed bug larvae will often be killed by the same insecticides or bed bug home remedies that kill adult bedbugs. However, the eggs will typically survive and will need treatment with a separate chemical or the same chemical, but about two weeks later when you can be sure all the eggs have hatched.
Thus, you really need to read all bug bomb or spray chemical claims very closely. Each chemical or natural insecticide is different, some killing off eggs and some not.
But, in reality, even though there are some anti bed bug treatments that kill some eggs, there really is no sure-fire chemical you can just buy and use to kill 100% of bed bug eggs for sure.
Thus, you have to use heat or apply anti bed bug measures two (or more times) at proper intervals. There really is no other way. That could mean calling in a professional exterminator, but not necessarily.
What Do Eggs Look Like?
Perhaps, you may be thinking, “How can I fight bed bug eggs? I wouldn’t know a bed bug egg from a grain of rice.” Well, in fact, they look very much like rice, only smaller.
Here are some features of bedbug eggs to help you identify them:
- Grain-like shape.
- Milky-white coloration.
- About one millimeter long.
- You’ll find one or a small cluster at a time.
But where will you find the eggs? Typically, there are hidden away (smart bugs) in inaccessible cracks and crevices. But, you may find some on your clothes, on pillows, on bed sheets, or on your mattress or box spring. It just varies.
How Long Does It Take for the Eggs to Hatch?
It normally takes less than two weeks for newly laid bed bug eggs to hatch. Six to 10 days is a good estimate, but it can vary based on temperature and other conditions in the environment (and “environment” here means “your bedroom!)
Females will lay only between 1 and 5 eggs at a time, but they can lay up to five hundred eggs in a lifetime and lay them nearly every day!
They usually live 4 to 6 months, but under favorable conditions, they can live up to a year. And they can sometimes go up to a year without eating too, which doesn’t quite mean that they can live their whole lives without a meal (and you know they don’t if you’re reading this article!)
Upon hatching, bed bug “nymphs, ” as they’re called, immediately head out looking for blood. Nymphs then molt and go through several stages, leaving casing behind on your mattress or in your carpeting (besides fecal stains, which is digested blood poop. Yuck.)
No stage in the bedbug life cycle has wings, and you are always dealing with flat-bodied insects. The young ones are more transparent, except after a blood meal. The older ones actually change body shape, becoming long instead of circular, after the gorge themselves on blood.
Bed bugs start 1.5 mm long but get up to 9 millimeters at full bed bug maturity. But they always remain immature “mentally” and keep on biting you and drinking your blood, from the moment they hatch to the bitter end.
Can I See the Eggs?
Bedbug eggs are hard to find and hard to see, but they are not impossible to see nor even microscopic.
If you look very closely and carefully on your mattress, clothing, pillow, or any infested area, you may well spot some eggs. But you need not see the eggs to know they must be there and to take drastic action to destroy them. After all, wherever there are bed bugs, bed bug eggs are not far off.
Again, there are many things that will kill some bed bug eggs, but nothing known to man will kill all of them. And you couldn’t be sure the treatment would even touch them all (hidden in crevices as they are) even if you could know it would kill every egg it touched.
That said, here are two ways, besides pesticides that list egg-death as one of their virtues, that you can kill a “whole lot of eggs:” diatomaceous earth (DE) and rubbing alcohol. Read more about these remedies just below.
Yes, if you douse bed bug eggs with DE (diatomaceous earth), they will die and not hatch, at least most of the time. And DE will kill off larvae, nymphs, juveniles, and adult bedbugs too, even if not always immediately.
Here are some of the virtues of DE in your fight against bed bugs and their grainy eggs:
- DE in a line creates a barrier that bed bugs will tend to avoid crossing, keeping them from laying eggs on the other side.
- DE is non-toxic and all-natural. It is the discarded shells of tiny sea creatures called diatoms (think the white cliffs of Dover here) and is not earth at all.
- DE will cut into delicate bedbug shells and either kill them right away or gradually dehydrate them over a period of up to one or two weeks at most. It will kill the eggs too.
- No bed bug or egg can develop a resistance to DE. It always works.
But don’t get pool-grade DE or DE mixed in with pesticides. Read the “ingredients.” It should say you are just buying plain old diatomaceous earth and that it is meant for use on pests. And wear a mask when applying DE to avoid breathing it in.
Yes, rubbing alcohol will kill at least most of your bed bug eggs, if it can contact them.
- Rub it on your legs and arms and the back of your neck before you sleep to deter bugs.
- Spray it on your mattress and box spring.
- Spray it under your bed on the carpet and along the baseboard of your bedroom.
Rubbing alcohol and a simple spray bottle will kill bed bugs if it hits them direct, and it can kill some eggs. It also helps soother your itchy bites, deter (not 100% stop, but “deter”) bedbugs from biting you or from laying eggs where you sprayed rubbing alcohol.
This is a cheap, common product, and it can be a key player in your attempt to kill bed bug eggs and eradicate the population. But don’t use it alone. Make it a part of a bigger, broader bed bug action plan.
What Should I Do With Eggs on Clothing?
There may be bedbug eggs on your clothes. It’s possible, especially if you leave them lying on the carpet all day. But even in the laundry bin, they’re not immune.
Bed bug eggs can be killed by washing then drying your clothes. The dryer is what really gets them more than the washer, but who dries clothes without first washing them? You will need medium-high or more as the temperature setting to kill the eggs (at 118ºF), but that depends on your dryer.
What temperature can kill the eggs? Bedbugs die in heat. Eggs, nymphs, adults, all stages die, every last one of them. That’s why professionals with expensive high-powered equipment rely heavily on heat treatment to cure bed bug infestations.
Heat your home’s interior or a particular room to 118ºF for about 70 minutes, and all the bed bugs, both hatched and unhatched, will be destroyed.
That doesn’t mean they can’t come back, though, if your pet is bringing them in. So eliminate the source before doing a heat treatment.
Steam, if hot enough, can also kill bedbugs. Steam treatment can be used on mattress seams or anywhere bed bugs may be hiding. It can kill off their eggs as well.
You would need special equipment to kill bed bug eggs by steam-power, however, so this would likely be a job for professionals. But you can find out the best steam cleaner for bed bugs in this article.
In sum, note that what kills bedbugs generally also kills their eggs. DE and rubbing alcohol are two good tools, but insecticides or heat treatment can also be effective.
It’s not absolutely necessary to call in a pro to kill off bed bug eggs, but if you are going to do it by heat or steam treatment, that’s likely where you’re going with it.
Remember that killing bedbugs is only a temporary fix. Killing them and their eggs win the war permanently, barring a new “invasion.”