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July 25, 2018
The movie “A Bug’s Life” features adorable bugs that many people would willingly welcome into their homes. We’re talking about ants with large, round eyes and soothing blue bodies that you might want to tuck into bed at night. The movie is classic entertainment for families, but most people know more about these animated bugs than they know about the reality of a bug’s life on earth today.
For instance, do real bugs sleep?
Let’s explore the sleep patterns of some common bugs while touching on the lifespan of insects, including those dreaded bed bugs.
It’s fun to imagine insects crawling into their underground lairs and tucking their babies in between soft sheets made of leaf matter and dirt, but reality is always more interesting than fiction.
Do sleep habits predict the lifespan of insects? The amount and quality of sleep that humans enjoy on a routine basis naturally impacts quality of life, and sleep deprivation is often listed as a risk factor for deadly accidents and some life-threatening diseases. It only makes sense that insects are equally impacted by their sleep habits.
Queen fire ants live longer than worker fire ants, and they receive twice as much sleep. The queen enjoys about nine hours of sleep each day while the workers settle for hundreds of short naps that add up to less than five hours per day.
The bed bug life cycle includes shedding the outer skin five times, which is why empty shell casings in the cracks and crevices of a mattress are often strong signs of infestation. Female bed bugs must feed on warm blood before they can produce eggs, and they can drop hundreds of eggs in their lifetime when well-fed.
How long do bed bugs live? This often depends on the amount of blood available for feedings. When food is plentiful, they should die off within six months. Long periods without food force them into some state of hibernation or sleep, which extends their lifespan. They can live for months between feedings, and that extends up to a year in cool climates.
The ladybug life cycle involves a gradual transition from egg to adulthood. New eggs transition to larva, then to pupa and finally to adults within a couple months. The adult ladybug can live for up to a year, which is rather short when you consider the amount of rest that these bugs receive when in hibernation.
The next time you snuggle in bed with your child to watch “A Bug’s Life” or another movie featuring animated bugs, think about the way those insects really live. Perhaps it will open the door to a teaching moment with your child, or perhaps you’ll just think more seriously about preventing bed bug infestations in your home. It’s often as simple as bringing home one or two bugs from a hotel, and they aren’t the cute and cuddly kind that you see in the movies.