How can one determine the length of time that has passed since the bugs arrived? Is it even possible? For large or long-time infestations, it becomes unrealistic to determine the age of the infestation by observation alone. Confounding variables such as multiple introductions, feeding frequency and treatment attempts enter into play. It is best to say they have been there for a long time (months or years), and leave it at that. However, the age of small infestations can be gauged fairly well for the first couple months, and that is likely sufficient in many cases.
A GOOD GUESS. At normal room temperatures (72°F) and with ample feeding opportunity, bed bug nymphs require about a week for development of each instar between molts. Each molt leaves behind exoskelton, the “shed skin.” In small infestations, these exoskelton can be used to estimate a timeline. This method is limited but can be useful under the right circumstances. For example, if a fourth instar bug is found alone in a mattress tuft along with some fecal spotting and three graduated exoskelton, a reasonable guess would be that it has been using that harborage for at least two to three weeks.
Able to lay 3 eggs a day if a host is available to feed on. Eggs take about 10 days to hatch at 72°F, so if you find hatched eggs attached to furniture, they’ve been there for at least that long. Newer eggs can be collected, and upon hatching provide an estimation of when they were laid.
Often a great indicator of how long an infestation has been around is the number of adult bed bugs present. Generally, it takes at least seven weeks for a bed bug to grow from an egg to an adult, so there should be no new adults from eggs during that period. Therefore, if many adult bugs are present one can reasonably assume that the infestation has been there for more than seven weeks. The assumption here is that the infestation started from only a few bugs and there have not been additional introductions during that time. For example, if an infestation starts with five bugs of any stages, there will still be no more than five adults seven weeks later.
The bottom line is that while there isn’t a surefire way to determine the age of an infestation, you can determine some limits. It requires careful inspection of the available evidence including fecal spotting, exoskelton, eggs and adult bugs.
Be sure to inspect your home regularly if you believe you have been subjected to an area with bed bugs. Or you can even call professionals to come and do an inspection of your home or vehicle. Don’t hold off! Call ECO Bed Bug Maryland to schedule your inspection (443) 266-0205!