How Long Can One Bed Bug 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.

I Found One Bed Bug On My Bed: Are There More?

If you have found even one bed bug on your mattress, then do note that there are bound to be many more of these pests lurking nearby. This is due to the simple fact that female bed bugs lay hundreds of eggs in cracks, crevices and other hard-to-access areas. These bugs also hide during the day and come out only at night to feed when they are attracted to the heat and carbon dioxide emitted by the human bodies.

Let us take a look at what it means if you have found one bed bug on your bed.

Bed Bugs: Are they present if there are no bites?

Majority of homeowners who find out about bed bug infestations do so only after they have seen one bed bug crawling on their mattress. In 90% of such cases, the inhabitants of the household do not suffer any bites. The reason being: only a few people are allergic to the bed bug’s saliva. Thus, most people get bitten, but they produce no symptoms on account of improved immunity to the bites.

Another common misconception about bed bugs is that they do not occur in clean households. No matter how scrupulously clean a bedroom is; bed bugs can still infest it particularly if they have hitched a ride by crawling inside you home through someone’s luggage. Chances are that you might have had some overnight guests. These could, quite unknowingly, bring bugs into your home. Secondly, you yourself might have taken a recent trip in an infested bus or plane or stayed in an infested hotel. No matter how clean the sheets or how luxurious a hotel is; it can still have a bed bug problem.

So, if you have found even one bed bug on your bed, please remain alert. Watch out for tell tale signs such as discarded shells, rust colored stains and a sweet almond like odor in the air. All these are signs that you have bed bugs.

Do bed bugs ever go away?

Ask any homeowner who has dealt with a bed bug infestation and chances are that s/he will tell you that they never really go away for good. This is due to the fact that bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides. Secondly, they have developed the ability to go without blood meals for long periods of time; some are even known to survive for months, or years, without feeding.

The female bed bug lays 100s of eggs and these tend to hatch rather quickly under favorable conditions. The bed bug larvae need tons of blood to grow and develop. In absence of humans, bed bugs could also bite pets, poultry, rodents etc and survive.

What to do if you have found one bed bug?

First of all, closely inspect all your sleeping areas for signs of bed bug activity as described above. If you find none, it does not mean that you are safe from bed bugs. It just means that they are hiding rather well and will come out when the time is right.

If you do see other bed bugs, do not try to take care of the infestation on your own. Call in the professional company who can treat the premises with the latest safe and effective bed bug products.

What can I do to avoid a major infestation

Once the pest control company has treated your home, you can do several things to keep the matter in check and prevent a large scale infestation.

  1. The best thing to avoid bed bugs is to keep the house clean by thoroughly vacuuming carpets, and rugs. Note that vacuuming will not kill eggs.
  2. If possible, wash all bedding, sheets and blankets in hot water-as much as the individual fabrics can withstand.
  3. Never buy used clothing or pick up old furniture or bedding from the road side as these could be infested. If possible wash used clothes before use.
  4. Treat your mattress, box springs etc with approved bed bug products like sprays, powders etc.
  5. You could also use natural substances like Borax and/or Diatomaceous powder to treat all sleeping areas. These are known to be highly effective against bed bugs as they kill them by shredding the bug’s insides. Naturally, for them to be effective, the bed bugs must come in contact with the powders.
  6. Once you have a confirmed infestation, make sure you restrain it to the sleeping areas. This can be done by avoiding moving things especially blankets, linen etc to other rooms.

As stated above, even if you have found one bed bug, you must try and avoid DIY approaches to get rid of it, as majority of these approaches are rather risky. The use of bug-killing aerosol products can cause allergies, asthma etc. You might kill the bug by spraying it directly, but this is not a guaranteed way of getting rid of all the other bugs. The Internet is also full of websites and products which promise a miraculous treatment to ensure complete riddance from bed bugs. No matter what treatment you choose, do make sure that you research it well in order to reduce fire hazards.

Got bed bugs?Here are 10 products that can help you get rid of and prevent them.

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 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 does it take for bed bugs to die after an extermination?

Bed bugs are tough creatures. They are resistance to cold and heat between some temperatures and they can live for a long time without feeding. Sohow long will it take bed bugs to dieafter a bed bug treatment?

Bed bugs are tough bugs

They can easily keep living between 45°F and 100°F. Conditions will be harder for bed bugs, when temperature is near to 0°F and more than 113°F.

If they fed once, they won’t need feeding for several months, and maybe for a year in some cases:

They have resistance to any environment in US and can easily adopt where they started to live.

How quick they die after a treatment?

The answer will vary to what is used for bed bugs. You can use some homemade remedies or chemicals or bed bug sprays. They will all have different results from each other.

Let’s look at the effect of bed bug remedies one by one:

Bed bugs will die in different times due to your remedy

As you see above, there is no certain answer for dying process of bed bugs. What you use for bed bugs will determine the death time of bed bugs.


Bed bug are resistant creatures, and it’s not easy to kill them in most cases. Those chemicals or sprays you use for bed bugs are the most effective ways to kill them.

But if bed bugs don’t directly touch with your treatment, they won’t die. So, you must wait for at least a few week in every single treatment to get the result.

Bed bugs will keep moving around and they can contact your spray or dust anytime. When they contact it,bed bugs will die in various timesdue to your treatment way.

Whatever those treatment do, you must always remember that chemicals and other unnatural treatment ways may be dangerous for household and you should be careful with your kids and babies during a bed bug treatment.

My advice is always to hire a professional, if you have a budget for it.

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