How Long Bedbug Survive Without Food
Top 10 Myths about Bedbugs
The insects, making a comeback around the globe, cannot fly and are really not interested in hanging out on your body–but they do occasionally bite during the day
- By Megan Scudellari on May 27, 2011
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Once a pest of the past, bedbugs now infest every state in the U.S..Cimex lectularius—small, flattened insects that feed solely on mammalian and avian blood—have been living with humans since ancient times. Abundant in the U.S. prior to World War II, bedbugs all but vanished during the 1940s and ’50s thanks to improvements in hygiene and the use of pesticides. In the past 10 years, however, the pests have staged a comeback worldwide—an outbreak after the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney was a harbinger of things to come. This revival may be the worst yet, experts say, due to densely populated urban areas, global travel and increasing pesticide resistance—something to consider as the summer travel season gets underway.
"By every metric that we use, it’s getting worse and worse," says Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Health authorities and pest control operators are regularly flooded with calls, and the epidemic may not have yet peaked. And because bedbugs are indoor pests, there are no high or low seasons throughout the year, he adds, only continual bombardment. "It’s just the beginning of the problem in the U.S.," Schal says.
Spreading rapidly with the bedbugs is a mass of misinformation about their biology and behavior. Straight from the experts, here are the facts behind some of the most notorious myths about the diminutive bloodsuckers.
Myth 1: Bedbugs can fly
Bedbugs lack wings, and therefore cannot fly. That is unless you put a blow dryer behind them, says Stephen Kells, a bedbug researcher at the University of Minnesota. Then they’ll fly about 1.2 meters. On their own, bedbugs crawl about a meter a minute, he says.
Myth 2: Bedbugs reproduce quickly
Compared with other insects, bedbugs are slow to reproduce: Each adult female produces about one egg per day; a common housefly lays 500 eggs over three to four days. Each bedbug egg takes 10 days to hatch and another five to six weeks for the offspring to develop into an adult.
Myth 3: Bedbugs can typically live a year without a meal
Scientists debate this point, but evidence suggests that at normal room temperature, about 23 degrees Celsius, bedbugs can only survive two to three months without a blood meal. But because they are cold-blooded, their metabolism will slow down in chillier climates, and the insects may live up to a year without feeding.
Myth 4: Bedbugs bite only at night
Although bedbugs are generally nocturnal, they’re like humans—if they’re hungry, they’ll get up and get something to eat. "If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it’s daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you," Schal says. Keeping a light on, then, unfortunately does not keep these tiny vampires away.
Myth 5: Bedbugs live exclusively in mattresses
"’Bedbug’ is such a misnomer," Kells says. "They should also be called pet bugs and suitcase bugs and train bugs and movie theater bugs." Bedbugs spread away from beds into living areas and can be seen on any surface, he says, including chairs, railings and ceilings.
Myth 6: Bedbugs prefer unsanitary, urban conditions
"Bedbugs are terribly nondiscriminatory," Schal says. Bedbugs can be found anywhere from ritzy high-rises to homeless shelters. The prevalence of the bugs in low-income housing is therefore not a result of the insect’s preference, but of dense populations and the lack of money to pay for proper elimination strategies. "Any location is vulnerable," Kells says. "But some people are going to have a harder time getting control of them because it is such an expensive treatment."
Myth 7: Bedbugs travel on our bodies
Bedbugs do not like heat, Kells says. They therefore do not stick in hair or on skin, like lice or ticks, and prefer not to remain in our clothes close to our bodily heat. Bedbugs are more likely to travel on backpacks, luggage, shoes and other items farther removed from our bodies.
Myth 8: Bedbugs transmit disease
Bedbug bites can lead to anxiety, sleeplessness and even secondary infections, but there have been no reported cases of bedbugs transmitting disease to humans. They do, however, harbor human pathogens: At least 27 viruses, bacteria, protozoa and more have been found in bedbugs, although these microbes do not reproduce or multiply within the insects. Canadian researchers announced (pdf) in the June issue ofEmerging Infectious Diseasesthat bedbugs isolated from three individuals in a Vancouver hospital carried methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus, aka MRSA. Still, there have been no reported cases that the bugs actually transmit human disease.
Myth 9: We should bring back DDT
When the controversial pesticide DDT was banned in 1972, most bed bugs were already resistant to it, Schal says, and today’s populations are even more widely resistant thanks to the use of a new class of pesticides. Pyrethroids, the main class of pesticides used against bedbugs today, targets sodium channels in bedbug cells, just like DDT. Consequently, as bedbugs develop resistance to pyrethroids, they also become cross-resistant to DDT.
How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?
Science can be frustrating. You may have been researching “how long bed bugs can survive without food” for a while now and found 63 different answers. Why are there 63 different answers? Why can’t you just get one answer and be done with this? You may read on a website that they can survive 18 months or more without food and how on Earth is that possible? Let me clarify and provide you the answer you’ve been looking for…..sort of….
The reason there are 63 different answers is because different factors and influences can change how long bed bugs can survive without food. Let’s take age for example. We know that 1st instar or “baby” bed bugs (right after they hatch out of an egg) can’t survive without food as long as adult bed bugs. Seems fairly simple and straightforward as a newborn human couldn’t survive as long as an adult without food. Activity level can also change the time it takes for bed bugs to die in the absence of food. If a bed bug is in a vacant apartment actively searching for food, they can’t survive as long as a bed bug in a jar on a scientist’s desk. As the bug in the vacant apartment wanders around looking for food, it is using energy and, therefore, will succumb sooner than the bug sitting in the jar. Again, using humans as an analogy, if someone is starving in a desert and wandering around looking for food they will succumb to the conditions sooner than if someone is stuck in a cave and can’t move around and use energy as quick as the person wandering. Make sense why there seem to be 63 different answers?
So the answer to the question depends upon why you are asking? If you have a vacant apartment that has bed bugs, and you want to know when it can be rented out, the answer is probably nine months or more. Research has found live bed bugs in vacant apartments six months after they vacated and how long they survive depends upon how active they are, the temperature in the apartment and what stresses they may have been exposed to. Because of all of these factors, there is no way to guarantee how long you should leave an apartment vacant to starve the bed bugs inside. In fact, you may be putting surrounding apartments at a higher risk as the bugs in the infested, vacant apartment are probably going to search for food, and that may increase the chance that a surrounding apartment becomes infested.
In a similar scenario, I have found live bed bugs in summer camps ten months after they were vacated. The difference in this setting is that the cabins were not heated over the winter, and the cold temperatures assisted the bed bugs in surviving longer than normal. How long could they have survived? The world may never know….
Lastly, many ask this question because they have personal belongings they want to seal in bags or in storage and want to know how long they have to leave the items before they can use them again. Unfortunately, this may be the toughest question to answer. You can find reports online that state people have observed bed bugs surviving 18 months or more when placed inside a jar and left in storage. To be honest, 18 months seems a bit long to me but bugs inside a container or bag and unable to search for food could probably survive 9-12 months or maybe much more. A good recommendation for this scenario is to add stresses to the setting to make the situation as difficult as possible on the bugs. Increasing the temperature, adding pesticidal dusts when possible (by label directions) and other treatment options can increase the stress on bed bugs in these situations and decrease the time they can survive.
So the answer to the question is…….don’t rely on starving bed bugs as a treatment option. Too many factors can influence how long they can survive and unless you can survive without an item for 12-18 months or more I would recommend finding a way a way to treat the item.
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 Survive Without A Blood Meal?
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It may not seem like it, but this is actually an extremely important question to ask, with implications that are further reaching than you might think. How long bed bugs can survive without eating is directly connected to why these blood-eating pests are so difficult to get rid of. Here’s what you need to know.
According to the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources Department, an average bed bug can go for 20 to 400 days between feeding, if the right conditions of temperature and humidity are present. Some adults have even survived longer than 400 days without food in the laboratory at low temperatures. That means they can hide for a really long time. Before you start thinking that this is a good thing, let’s see how this affects homeowners trying to get rid of these bugs.
When bed bugs are found, the first course of action most people take is to go to the internet for answers. They’ll usually type something like, "How do I get rid of bed bugs?" and then they are excited to find that there is a ton of self-help articles on the subject. They proceed to stick items in plastic bags, rip the guts out of their belongings, lay out traps, put down toxic materials, use foggers, wash and dry all their clothes and bedding on the hottest temperature, and even attempt to raise the temperature to a deadly level with heaters and fans. But, if they don’t burn their homes or apartment buildings to the ground, and make it through without getting sick, the results are usually bleak. If the pests disappear at all, it is only for a short time. And when they return, they return in force.
Getting rid of bed bugs requires expertise and experience. These pests learn to avoid areas that are dangerous. You can apply all the self-help pest control you want, but the best result you’re likely to achieve is temporary success. Those bugs will flee deep into the walls of your home and into secluded spaces until it’s safe to return. If the population contains females with eggs, those pests will be back in much larger numbers later. And, since they can go 40-400 days without a blood meal, they can easily wait for you to expend yourself on every crazy bed bug do-it-yourself pest control idea available on the web.
If you have bed bugs, the best idea is to call someone who has the specialized knowledge to properly corral and eradicate these frustrating and resourceful pests. These bugs are no fun to have around, and even less fun to have returning over and over again. Kill them all, the first time, with the help of a certified and experienced pest controller, like Moyer Indoor | Outdoor.
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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
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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.