Written by

David Floyd

David Floyd

Reviewed by

Brett Ehlert

Brett Ehlert

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food? – Surprisingly Long

It is common knowledge that bed bugs are highly resilient insects. Once they infest a household, they can prove to be difficult to eliminate. And even if successful in getting rid of them, there is always the risk of their return. This raises the question, how long can bed bugs live without food?

In this article, I’ll discuss how long bed bugs can live without food and what factors influence their longevity. I’ll also provide some tips on preventing bed bugs from infesting your home in the first place. Before we get started, let’s look at what bed bugs are and how they live.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals.  They are small, flat, brownish-red insects that can hide in cracks and crevices in furniture, bedding, and floors. Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, but their bites can be itchy and uncomfortable.

how long can bed bugs live without food

Bed bugs pierce the skin of their host with a sharp beak-like mouthpiece. They then insert their straw-like tube into the wound and withdraw blood. A single bed bug can consume up to seven times its weight in blood, and they typically feed for about five minutes before returning to their hiding place.

While bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood, they will also feed on the blood of animals if necessary. Bed bugs were once known as “mahogany flat,” “wall louse,” and “redcoat” – all names that refer to their ability to infest homes and furniture.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

Now that we’ve reviewed some basic information about bed bugs let’s answer the question: how long can these pests live without food?

The short answer is that bed bugs can survive for quite a while without feeding. Adults can live for up to a year without eating, while nymphs (young bed bugs) can survive for a period less than adults. This is because they are able to enter into a state of semi-hibernation when conditions are unfavorable.

In this state, bed bugs will lower their metabolism and enter into a dormant state. They can remain in this state for long periods of time, only emerging to feed when they sense the presence of a potential host. Bedbugs are more likely to enter into a dormant state when the temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also more likely to do so when they are not able to find a food source.

When bed bugs are in a dormant state, they can survive for extended periods of time – even up to a year in some cases. However, it’s important to note that bed bugs will only enter this state when necessary. If conditions are favorable (i.e., there is a food source available and the temperature is above 70 degrees), they will remain active and continue to feed.

What Factors Influence a Bed Bug’s Longevity?

Several factors can influence how long bed bugs live. These include:

The Temperature:

As we mentioned, bed bugs are more likely to enter into a dormant state when the temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Low temperatures can kill bed bugs.  However, it’s important to note that bed bugs can survive in temperatures as low as 46 degrees Fahrenheit if they are in a protected environment (such as cracks in furniture or behind baseboards).

The Availability of Food:

 As you might expect, bed bugs with a regular food source (i.e., humans) will live longer than those who don’t.  Studies have shown that bed bugs can live for up to 400 days without feeding if the temperature is right.  However, most bed bugs will only live without food for about 200-300 days.

The Presence of Other Bed Bugs:

 Bed bugs are more likely to survive if they are in close proximity to other bed bugs.  This is because bed bugs are social creatures, and they secrete a chemical called pheromones that help them communicate with each other. Pheromones also help bed bugs regulate their feeding and reproduction.

Sometimes, when bed bug populations get too large, they will start to cannibalize each other. In these cases,  the cannibalized bed bugs will usually die within 10 days.  If you have a large infestation of bed bugs, they may not live as long as those in smaller populations.

The Presence of Predators:

Bed bugs have several natural predators, including dust mites, spiders, and centipedes.  These predators can help to keep bed bug populations in check.  You might not think that dust mites could kill bed bugs, but they can. 

Dust mites are tiny creatures that live in mattresses and feed on dead skin cells.  However, they will also feed on bed bug eggs and nymphs.  Spiders and centipedes usually only prey on adult bed bugs. 

The Stage of Life:

 Bed bugs have different lifespans depending on what stage of life they are in.  For example, bed bug eggs usually hatch within 10 days.  After hatching, the bed bugs will go through 5 nymph stages before reaching adulthood.

Adult bed bugs can live for several months without feeding, while nymphs will die within a few weeks if they don’t have a food source. In general, bed bugs in the later stages of life will live longer than those in the early stages.

Final Thoughts On How Long Do Bed Bugs Live Without Food

Now that you know how long bed bugs can live without food, you should be able to get rid of them quickly and effectively. It would help if you also kept in mind that bed bugs can spread quickly, so it’s essential to act fast. If you can’t get rid of the bed bugs yourself, you should consider hiring a professional. If you have a bed bug problem, you can try some methods mentioned above.

I hope you’re enjoyed our guide on how long do bed bugs live without food! View our other Bed Bug Guides!

Resources:

https://extension.umn.edu/biting-insects/bed-bugs

David Floyd:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. David is Quality Pro certified and is a certified Structural Pest Control Operator in the state of North Carolina, and the owner of NCPestControlExperts pest control company.

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