When we think about bed bugs, many of us probably think about a live bug moving around our living spaces and taking up residence under our mattresses. While understanding the life cycle of a bed bug can be helpful when trying to eliminate them from your home, you probably don’t know much or anything about bed bug shells, skins, or casings.
Discussing the bed bug exoskeleton is not meant to make your skin crawl even more or gross you out but instead, give you a better understanding of bed bugs in general.
Bed bug shells and casings are the same, but you may hear them described as one or another. Since bed bugs are an insect, they have a skeleton (or exoskeleton) on the outside of their body, and like all insects, a bed bug must shed its skin to grow. A bed bug exoskeleton that has been shed is often known as a shell or casing.
Once the nymph emerges from its egg, it seeks its first blood meal. Since a nymph must go through five stages before becoming an adult, it will molt (or shed its exoskeleton) five times. Each time a nymph sheds its shell and leaves behind a casing, it can enter the next stage of life.
Since the size of the shells or casings may vary, many people assume that adult bed bugs shed their exoskeleton. On the contrary, any casings you come across belong to the eggs or a nymph at a various stage. Once a bed bug has reached adulthood, it no longer sheds or grows.
Many people wonder what a bed bug shell looks like and in most cases, it looks just like the bed bug but without the body on the inside. Many shells are undamaged, and it appears as though the nymph magically disappeared from its exoskeleton.
The larger the infestation of bed bugs, the more casings you will find lying around. Most molted casings are in areas where bed bugs gather together in groups. Given that bed bugs are more likely to group together than go out on their own, casings may be anywhere throughout your living space.
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