How Long Bed Bugs Can Live

Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without A Host? (A Simple Answer)

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn More

​Bed bugs are a very frustrating problem for lots of homeowners especially across many states in the United States.

Their excellent adaptability to a wide range of climates and their rate of reproduction have earned these parasites a notorious reputation throughout the country.

Because they get bitten every night by these nasty and stubborn parasites, a lot of homeowners are drawn into the wrong conclusion that leaving the house for a few days can starve the bed bugs to death or at least force them out of the property in search for a new host.

But does it really work?

​The bed bugs’ ability to survive without a host depends on a number of factors. And understanding these critical elements can help you land on the ultimate answer to the question.

​How Does A Bed Bug Feed?

​Before we can really answer the main question, it is best that we first take into consideration how a bed bug feeds.

As we all now know, bed bugs don’t have a chewing mouth part that help them burrow deep into our skin. Instead, these parasites are equipped with a needle like proboscis which they use to pierce through our skin and into the nearest blood vessel.

Prior to feeding, the bed bug excretes an ample amount of saliva which acts as an anesthetic component. It numbs the nerves of the skin surrounding the target area so that the victim doesn’t feel a thing. The be bug’s saliva also acts as an anticoagulant which helps keep the blood flowing as it feeds.

​Is Blood The Only Type Of Meal bed Bugs Prefer?

​Yes. Blood is the only type of nourishment bed bugs require and accept. They can’t and will not feed on anything else other than a thirst quenching blood meal.

Bed bugs need blood for them to molt and to develop full sexual maturity. Proteins and other nutrients found in their host’s blood is essential for the development of their eggs.

The following video is a close up documentary on how a bed bug bites and feeds.

​A blood meal from a human host is what bed bugs prefer. These nasty buggers are significantly attracted to us because of the heat signature that our bodies give off and the carbon dioxide that we exhale. But in the absence of a human host, bed bugs acquire blood meal from animals nearby.

​How Often And How Long Does A Bed Bug Feed?

​When an egg hatches, a nymph emerges. This nymph requires at least one blood meal to molt into the higher stage of its life. The nymph undergoes several molting process (less than two months) before it reaches full maturity.

Nymphs usually take about 5 minutes to feed. Adults on the other hand, may take around 10 minutes per feeding session. It then retreats to a safe spot for digestion of the blood meal it has acquired from its host.

Both nymph and adult bed bugs feed only once per week. If you get bitten by these critters every night, it simply means that you have a sizeable bed bug population to deal with.

​How Long Can A Bed Bug Survive Without Feeding?

​Basically, bed bugs can survive from several months to a full year without a host. But this survivability directly depends on a few factors.

​Adult bed bugs can survive longer compared to the younger ones or nymphs. The absence of a host for a blood meal doesn’t hinder the nymphs from developing into full adults.

Rather, it drastically decreases the amount of time needed for nymphs to reach full maturity. Nymphs become adult bed bugs in just about a month resulting to significantly weaker insects.

Temperature of the direct environment also plays a crucial role on how long a bed bugs survives without a host. Under normal room temperature, adult bed bugs can linger for a year. Increased temperature on the other hand, remarkably decreases the total length of time a bed bug can survive without a host.

Read More Bed Bug Answers

Check out our other bed bug guides. Each guide is expertly crafted to help you make sure these pests never bother you again.

HOW LONG CAN BED BUGS LIVE WITHOUT FEEDING?

How long can bed bugs live without blood? The answer depends on the age of the bed bug, if it is resistant to certain pesticides and the temperature range it is exposed to. “How long can bed bugs live without feeding before becoming adults?” is the first question to ask yourself.

A newly hatched bed bug is called a nymph. Nymphs go through five stages before becoming mature adults. When a bug molts, it sheds its skin. Immature bed bugs molt five times before reaching maturity and must feed in between every molt. For that reason, nymphs must feed more often. Despite their young age, newly hatched bed bugs can still survive for at least a few weeks without feeding.

But if nymphs can survive weeks without feeding, how long can bed bugs live without blood after maturity? That depends. When living in warm conditions, bed bugs will usually try to feed at regular intervals. Adult bed bugs can survive for about five months without a blood meal.

Once the bed bug settles on a host, it will feed for a few minutes. Length of feeding depends on the stage of development, how much it ate last time and how long it’s been since it last fed. After the bed bug is full, it will leave the host and return to a crack or crevice, typically where other bed bugs are gathered.

Bed bugs usually feed every three to seven days, which means that most of the population is in the digesting state, and not feeding much of the time. However, because bed bug infestations can spread so rapidly, it can often feel like you are waking up with new bites every morning. This can lead to high stress levels and a lack of sleep.

Don’t let bed bugs get the best of you. A pest control specialist can help you kick bed bugs out of your house and keep them out.

Polanco AM, Miller DM, Brewster CC. Survivorship During Starvation for Cimex lectularius L.. Insects. 2011; 2(2):232-242.

How long can bed bugs live without feeding?

Bed bugs are tough creatures and they are resistant to hunger. They can live without feeding for a long time and that’a what makes them challenging enemies. So, how long does a bed bug can live without feeding?

Bed bugs information

May be you have bed bugs at your home and may be you have not. First thing you must do is to be sure about bed bugs.

There are a lot of bugs mistaken for bed bugs. We published a post about it earlier: bedbugdetected.com/10-bugs-mistaken-for-bed-bugs

Bed bugs are small insects which are 1 to 5 mm sized and not always easy to see with human eye: bedbugdetected.com/what-do-bed-bugs-look-like-to-the-human-eye

But after a nymph become an adult, it’s always possible to see them with naked eyed while they are walking around.

A bed bug has those basic physical features:

  • It is oval-shaped and flatted.
  • Reddish-brown in color.
  • Close to red after recently fed.
  • It has no wings
  • It can’t fly
  • It can’t jump
  • It can move fast when it notices you watching it.

How bed bugs feed?

Bed bugs feed on only blood. They are blood-fed creatures and main food source of bed bugs are mammalians.

So, they feed on bats and human primarily. They can feed on birds or cats or dogs too, but they prefer to feed on these animals only when there are not any human hosts around.

This means that their favorite food is us, human!

How long bed bugs feed?

It depends on conditions, even so, average feeding time of an adult bed bug is 10 to 15 minutes if it is not disturbed.

As a matter of course, a smaller bed bug will feed for a shorter time.

How long does it take for a bed bug to starve to death?

This is also the answer of this question: How long bed bugs live without feeding? There are several answers to this question.

After taking a glance at some studies, the answer will be around 1 YEAR!

What does 1 year mean?

This means that it’s difficult to get rid of bed bugs. you may have no bites for months or you may haven’t seen them for a long time, but they can still be there, near you.

Even after a house left empty for more than a year, new movers can face the same bed bug problem as the previous hosts had.

Can bed bugs live without any hosts?

You must understand that bed bugs do not host on human or other mammalians, unlike fleas. Their hosts are cracks, holes, furniture, clothes or other staff which are near to their food sources.

So, bed bugs do not need to host on human for surviving. What they need is only a secure place close to their feeding sources.

Conclusion

Yes, bed bugs need to feed for surviving too. But unlike most alive, they can deal with hunger for a very long time.

If conditions like temperature or hiding possibilities are suitable for them, bed bugs can live for more than 1 year without feeding.

This doesn’t mean every single bed bug will survive for more than a year without surviving. Environmental conditions will of course, change their resistance. But you must be ready to the worst scenario to get rid of them.

So if you had bed bug problem once and you can’t see them around for a long time, do not relax to forget them.

Always be skeptical and keep searching them around on occasion.

For more information about bed bugs, you can also check these posts:

How long does it take for bed bugs to die without human contact

Scientific studies have shown that bed bugs (cimex lectularius) adults can live as long as 400+ days without feeding in a laboratory at low temperatures.

Adult bed bugs can live for more than a year and it was found that there can be up to four successive generations per year. As for nymphs the life span is shorter than adults.

  • Adult bed bugs can live 14 months without feeding
  • Nymphs live 5 months without blood meal
  • Females need first blood meal to lay eggs

Starving a bed bug is not an effective strategy in removing an infestation.

Pest management professionals follow specific guidelines to get rid of bed bugs permanently . These procedures will help identify the necessary effort to quickly remove a bed bug infestation in any size property.

To help reduce outbreaks please share with friends and family.

Do bed bugs die if they do not feed?

Bed bugs do require to feed (blood meal) in order to survive, yet there is a 14 month life span of a adult bed bugs without human contact found in scientific studies.

The complete life cycle of a bed bug requires at least one blood meal before molting to the next stage, this again depends on temperature and availability of food/blood meal.

Keep in mind development occurs more rapidly at temperatures between 70° and 82°F.

Can bed bugs live in a vacant house?

Due to an adult bed bug life cycle can last 400+ days without a host. It’s very common bed bugs can live in a vacant home.

Due to the feeding cycle of bed bugs, they may migrate to where a blood meal can be found. This may be the cause of an infestation from a neighbors home that is in your living vicinity.

What is the average lifespan of bed bugs?

The life stages of a bed bug are based on five nymphal stages (not including the egg). Each stage requiring a blood meal before molting to the next stage.

  • Egg – Eggs are white and oval shaped (about 1/16 long)
  • Tiny white nymph – Difficult to see (about 1.5mm) Look like specs of dirt until they move
  • Light nymph with black spot – (about 2mm) Noticeable black spot in abdomen area
  • Light brown nymph – Lager in Size (about 2.5mm) Resembles an apple seed in shape
  • Medium brown nymph – Size increases (about 3mm) smaller version of the adult bed bug
  • Darker brown nymph – Larger in size (about 4.0mm) More pronounce black spot on abdomen
  • Adult – Reddish brown “rust color” flat oval shaped body (about 4.5mm)Egg

All data is based on scientific studies to offer you the facts and not opinions. Our data was collaborated with UC IPM.

Solutions that get rid of bed bugs

Bed bug questions. don’t be shy ask below

We know this is a stressful situation and we appreciate you allowing us to help you thru this. In hopes of showing you are commitment and good faith as your supplier of pest control products.

We are happy to offer any advice we can to help you. We will do our best to reply, but please be patient as we are helping a large number of customers around the globe.

This Post Has 13 Comments

Please feel free to ask us any questions you may have. We are here to help you finally get rid of these pests. Just leave a comment or questions and we will be happy to help!

How long can a bed bug live with a host

Can bed bugs or eggs travel on the botshoesr to of your shoes

Yes they can, it is very common they travel from suitcases into your home. Another way we have a lot of readers get them is from their kids backpacks in school. They then come home with the bed bug in the back pack and that night, they begin burrowing into the beds and start feasting. A week later you begin to start noticing the bites.

So its very common these bed bugs migrate on shoes, luggage, clothing, etc.

I had a K 9 detect bed bugs in 1 room in my apartment. I had to pack up the entire apartment in plastic bags in the middle of the flood. I had 3 treatments. The last treatment was in November. there has been no known activity since. We can I finish unpacking and know that the treatments were successful

AWESOME. to hear your bed bug issue is gone. If your not feeling bites for a two week period or so, you can assume a success.

Although… please be aware, neighbors, public transportation, kids backpacks… other external things outside your home. This can bring back bed bugs. It’s possible… not always likely but it happens.

So its always recommended, while you do a monthly cleaning, simply SPOT-Treat your beds, couches, and walls, clothing areas with GreenBeanBuddy residual bed bug spray. This will prevent the pests from migrating from any outside sources.

Thankyou for sharing your story, we’re so thrilled you got rid of your bed bugs! We love it when customers tell us this.

Nobody seems to address specifically: Can bedbug EGGS lie dormant to hatch at a later time, when conditions are more favorable? How long can they last? Will adding moisture to dry old bedbug eggs reactivate them?

Hi Tom, thanks for reaching out. I will be happy to answer your questions. We have bed bug specialist on staff that confirm the answers as well.

As for EGGS being dormant and hatching, yes nymphs(hatchling bed bugs) do lay dormant then hatch later. This is why we recommend a re-treatment around the 7 day point, because this 2nd treatment cycle will get the nymphs that look to feed. These are usually very tiny ones you cannot see very well, yet you feel the bites. (And their bites are usually the more painful ones because they do not inject you with the numbing agent that the large bed bugs do when feeding.).

EGGS cycle usually hatch every 7 to 14 days.

Adding moisture to dry eggs will not re-activate them. In fact, Green Bean Buddy is so effective because the formulation kills bed bugs using a dehydration method that seals out the bed bugs moisture from the inside out, thus causing them to die without becoming immune to our formulation. So the nymphs are affected in the same way.

Thanks for contributing, your questions will help the community and assist us in which guides we should add to help more of bed bug victims and our clients.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

I noticed there are bed bugs in my house and I used pesticides on them, though most of them died but I realized their eggs were still there, my question is, can the pesticide kiilbthe eggs? If it can’t how long can I one use the pesticides on d nymph

Most pesticides will not kills the eggs.

You will notice after a treatment, another cycle occurs of bites a few days later… likely 5 to 7 days. This is the hatchlings from the eggs and these are the most painful bites. The little nymphs do not have a numbing agent like the larger adults when they bite, so you feel it.

What You Want To Do For The Eggs:

We found a way to get rid of the hatchlings and egg cycle with our residual bed bug treatment. You simply spray Green Bean Buddy bed bug killer on any surface (clothing, bed, boxspring, and around the bed on the floor). This will prevent and kill these pests from reaching you. In fact most will avoid the area of treatment and if hatchlings get near it they die. So we recommend a nice barrier every few days until all the hatchlings are gone.

Let us know if you have other questions and thanks for contributing to the community.

which is the most efficient pestside for bedbugs…Iv treated mine for 6months with no success

Hi Lizzy, it’s a process. I would advise the following steps below. It’s important to do a treatment and stay consistent. The reason of being consistent is because these bed bugs can hide in many locations. So it’s important to treat all the areas. To combat this difficulty, you may wish to consider a residual bed bug treatment spray. This allows you to spray the areas, then it leaves a clear residual to protect from re-infestations. This is how health facilities, resorts, and pest managers are using the bed bug treatment sprays.

I think one reason they been around for 6 months is you may not know the true source of the problem. This is very common. We’ve found the bed bugs hiding in picture frames way up on the wall. Then other times they were in electrical outlets. And of course… neighbors or when you travel on public transportation. They literally can hitch a ride.

We had someone who was a mechanic, and they worked in a car which had bed bugs. He didn’t know that they were jumping on his clothes from the vehicle he was working on. So they can come from multiple sources. This is why we have had such great success in residual bed bug spray. The simple fact that is kills and then spray along your doors, windows, walls, bed, couches, linens, etc. This will be like a shield which these bed bugs will either come near and die or simply evacuate due to the formulation.

Steps To Follow & Products To Use:

1. Identify what a bed bug looks like – so you can identify the different sizes of them.

2. Where do bed bugs hide – so you know where to treat.

3. How to treat bed bugs yourself – You can use these procedures during treatment.

Lastly, how to keep bed bugs away permanently with re-treatment. This is because re-infestations can come from external sources.

You can consider a Residual Bed Bug Spray to combat the problem. You may also want to consider a bed bug steamer as well.

Thanks for sharing with the community. Let me know if you have other questions. I think the guides will definitely help, just be consistent and remember when doing a treatment, SPOT TREAT… don’t drench. This will give you more product to use later on just in case you need to re-treat or want to prevent the infestation after its gone.

Add Comments: