How Long Does A Single Bed Bug Live

Learn About Bed Bug Infestations So You Will Be Better Equipped to Fight Yours!

A bed bug infestation is a big deal. It can disrupt your sleep/life, and you may have no idea what is happening to you or how to stop it. Bed bugs are different from most other household insect pests and are much more difficult to live with and to get rid of.

Bed bugs are keen to find a way into your house, and you have to be aware of their “migration tactics” in order to thwart them. You need to know how they move from house to house and room to room, how fast they can spread, where they are likely to hide, and what options you have for killing them.

Make no mistake. A bed bug infested home means your home has just become a war zone. You can’t let the enemy sneak by unnoticed under your radar, and knowing the facts about bed bugs is winning half the battle.

Table of Contents

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

Bed bugs are quite willing to enter your premises uninvited, take up permanent residence, and help themselves to a blood feast. But where do they come from to begin with?

The fact is, bed bugs live primarily in human habitations all over the world, be it in mattresses, box springs, carpeting, picture frames, cracks in floor, furniture, or a host of other locales.

Of course, bed bugs ultimately hail from the great outdoors, and you may find some still living there in tall grasses, but they are overwhelmingly an “indoor insect.”

Transferred from Person to Person

Unlike fleas and lice, bed bugs do not tend to live permanently on human beings or animals. Instead, they will generally hide is some hard to reach nook or cranny and come out at night to feed. That’s why they like to live in or near beds and other places people sleep or sit for long periods.

But, it is still possible for bed bugs to be transferred from person to person.

Here’s why:

  • They can get into your clothes, purse, laptop bag, jacket, or anything else you wear or carry about.
  • From there, they can get onto clothes of others you are in close contact with.

Their eggs can also be found on clothes sometimes, and if egg-infested clothes of yours touched someone else’s clothes, even the eggs could get transferred.

So, while it’s not very likely, it is possible for bed bugs to move from person to person.

Spread From House to House

Bed bugs, as clever as they are, do not generally walk long distances between buildings. They have other ways of getting into your house.

These stealthy home-invasion strategies include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Hitch a ride on your laundry, luggage, or other possessions that you bring back from a bed-bug-infested hotel room.
  • Your pet might pick up a bed bug while visiting another house (or even outdoors) and then bring it back to your place.
  • Bed bugs may be hiding in furniture in one house, but the owner may sell it at a garage sale or put it on the curb to dispose of it. Then, you take that old bed-bug-ridden piece of furniture into your house, thinking it’s a great find.
  • You sleep over at a friend’s house where bed bugs live. Bed bugs get into your stuff or on your person, and you unknowingly transport them home with you.
  • If you live in a multi-unit home or apartment complex, these bugs can crawl down the hall, through vents, and through cracks in the walls to get into your living quarters.

Spread from Room to Room

You may, perhaps, imagine that bed bugs can’t get around too fast. It’s true they have small legs and can’t hop or skip, but they can walk up to 100 feet in a single night. They just “keep going till they get there.”

Bed Bug Hiding Spots

And bed bugs are known to move through the inside of walls, which they will access via outlets if not through cracks. They can run inside of in-wall piping for a quicker move from room to room. It really doesn’t take more than a single night for them to migrate to a new room. And they can even get into your vacuum cleaner so that you are helping them spread quicker as you clean the carpet.

It could be a matter of days before your entire house is infested, given you have enough of a bed bug population and your bed bugs are motivated to look for food/water/blood somewhere other than where they are at the moment.

Infestation Map

I found a bed bug, you say, so where should I look for more? Can I map out the infestation so I can map out an eradication plan?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to be sure of all the nooks and crannies your unwelcome guests may be hiding in, and they may even move around from night to night. All you can do is know the likely spots and apply bed bug killer.

I Have One Bed Bug. Does It Mean an Infestation?

A single bed bug may or may not indicate you already have a true infestation.

But if you do find a bed bug, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A single impregnated female can produce a whole population. She will lay the eggs and then breed with her own offspring.
  • The odds are in favor of your not having found the only bed bug in your house. Where there’s one, there are probably more.
  • Bed bugs can go 6 months or more without a blood meal, and many individual bugs may not feed more than once a week on average. Thus, you won’t see them all out searching for food at the same time.
  • Is the bed bug red-bodied? Then it was feeding. If they’re feeding, chances are they’re breeding.

My Bed

Once in your bedroom, bed bugs will have no trouble finding your bed. They are attracted to carbon dioxide such as warm-blooded animals exhale and to your body heat. As soon as they sense CO2 and heat at night, they will go to your bed because you, their target, are lying on it.

Bed bugs can get into your bedroom on your dirty clothes, on the clothes you are wearing, or by hiding in suitcases, hand bags, boxes, furniture, or anything else you bring into your room that offers them good cover.

Walls

Do bed bugs live in walls? The answer is: sometimes. Walls are not necessarily their number one or preferred hideout, as with cockroaches, but when no better shelter exists near their feeding zone, they’ll be quick to reside inside wall cavities.

Of course, there has to be an entry point for them to get into the wall. So if your walls have cracks or small holes in them, caulking it up, painting over it, or otherwise sealing it off may deny your bed bugs a hideout.

Wood Floors

Yes, bed bugs can live inside wood flooring. They can even crawl along inside the seams between wood planks, even when those seams are rather tight.

The pancake-flat bodies and small size of bed bugs allow the to get into and live in even the most inaccessible areas. There are few wood floors, if any, that are so tightly put together that bed bugs couldn’t get into them.

Infestation Timeline

You may be wondering what to do if you have bed bugs, and how long you have before they overrun you. You may be waking up at night, staring at the clock, and wondering, “How long do I have?”

How Long Does It Take for Bed Bugs to Infest?

Here are four facts you should know that will give you an idea as to how long it takes for a bed bug infestation to get started and to get into “full swing:”

  1. Female bed bugs can lay from one to five eggs per day and ultimately 200 or 250 eggs in a lifetime.
  2. Eggs will hatch in five to 10 days’ time, and the emergent nymphs will immediately begin looking for a blood meal.
  3. It takes around four or five weeks for a bed bug to reach maturity, going through five molts along the way.
  4. Bed bugs will live around four to 10 months, but life spans may vary quite a bit based on conditions (and on your extermination efforts!)

The Life Cycle of a Bed Bug

Conclusion: an infestation can get rolling in less than a week, become unbearable in one to two months, and reach peak population levels in six months to a year, given the right conditions and plenty of blood.

What You Should Know

You may be wondering, “Do bed bugs go away if I just leave them alone a while?” Wishful thinking may have its merits, perhaps, but no, they normally won’t just go away on their own.

My Apartment Is Infested With Bed Bugs. Now What?

If your apartment definitely has a bed bug infestation, what can you do about it? You’ll need to learn how to kill bed bugs and how to keep them from coming back.

Here are Five Key Steps you can take to eradicate your blossoming bed bug population:

  1. Clear away all the clutter from your bedroom or other infested area. In fact, clean and organize your whole house like you were getting ready for white glove at college.
  2. Wash and dry all your clothes and linens that could possibly have gotten exposed to bed bugs or their eggs. Use the high-heat setting.
  3. Spray bed bug killer along the baseboards, into cracks and crevices, onto mattresses, box springs, upholstered furniture, and anywhere else it’s safe to spray it. Also apply diatomaceous earth under and around your bed, set up CO2 bed bug traps, and use rubbing alcohol to protect your exposed skin at night.
  4. Use a one-two punch bed bug fogger bomb approach. The first bombs will kill off adults mostly. Wait two weeks so the surviving eggs can hatch, and then bomb to wipe out the hatchlings before they mature and repopulate.
  5. You can repeat the four steps above several times, but if the problem persists, call in a professional who can safely heat your home to 118 degrees Fahrenheit to kill every bed bug.

Three Steps to be Bed-Bug-Free

Can They Come Back After Treatment?

Bed bugs can return the same way they got into your home to begin with, even after you totally eradicate them.

Thus, you need to think about how they may have gotten in. Stop bringing in garage sale or curbside furniture, routinely sprinkle diatomaceous earth along your door’s bottom if you live in an apartment complex, or change whatever else it takes to keep them out!

Learn how bed bugs spread into and throughout houses and how their population explodes. Take measures accordingly without delay to kill them and prevent a return. Knowing the facts about your bed bug infestation will help you end it!

You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

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

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​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 DO BED BUGS LIVE?

If you’ve had to deal with bed bugs hitching a ride home on your pet or your luggage, you’ve probably asked yourself, "how long do bed bugs live?"

As far as insect life spans go, bed bugs crawl the earth for longer than most — tapping out around the 10-month marker, according to bedbugs.org. And while that 10-month window is true for most, some are thought to live up to a year.

A bed bug life cycle includes multiple stages. A female bed bug lays eggs in groups of one to 50 and they take anywhere from six to 17 days to hatch, according to bedbugs.org. By the time she dies, a female will have laid hundreds of eggs.

The eggs are small, about 1 millimeter in size, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One millimeter is around the size of a mustard seed.

With the right conditions and temperatures, a bed bug can go from an egg to its adult stage in approximately 37 days. Warmer climates promote faster bed bug reproduction and development.

Baby bed bugs are called nymphs. A nymph will go through five phases of growth before it becomes an adult, shedding its skin each time, according to the EPA. They start life at 1.5 millimeters (the thickness of a U.S. penny) and grow to about 4.5 millimeters (the size of a medium-to-large pearl).

Even in their nymph stages, bed bugs are ready to eat. They primarily feed off of people, but will also bite animals − including dogs, cats, rodents and chickens. A bed bug can last up to a year or longer without feeding if the temperatures are ideal.

Still, the average bed bug life cycle isn’t very long, but they do lead active lives, which includes aggressively mating. If you think you may have signs of bed bugs, contact a pest management professional immediately.

UNDERSTANDING BED BUG BEHAVIOR TO LEARN THE TELLTALE SIGNS OF INFESTATION

Bed bugs may be waging a nightly war on your family, so you’d better know your enemy. Learning about bed bug behavior is your first line of defense, even before you call in pest management professionals. Discourage these creepy home invaders by getting inside their heads. Here’s how.

INTERESTING BED BUG BEHAVIOR

Feeding patterns are mostly nocturnal and often occur in the “breakfast, lunch and dinner” bite pattern. This means the bed bug will first feed where your exposed skin meets the bedding and then move up for “lunch” before moving again and drawing their third bite, thereby creating a distinctive line of bites. You can also receive a singular bite or even develop a larger cluster of bites as dozens of bed bugs feed on your blood while you sleep.

THE BED BUG DINE AND DASH

Thanks to an anesthetic in their saliva and an extremely sharp, straw-like mouth they use for piercing your skin and sucking your blood, you won’t wake up during a bed bug feeding. The saliva also contains an anticoagulant, which prevents clotting, so a typical meal only takes between three to 10 minutes before the bed bug is gorged with your blood.

After eating, the bed bugs will scurry back to hiding spots in your room’s baseboards, floorboards, box springs, carpeting, picture frames, crevices, books, etc. Studying bed bug behavior tells us that they typically hide within eight feet of their victims, digesting your blood, mating and laying eggs before heading back to your bed for another feeding in about five to 10 days.

Oddly enough, it’s not the smell of humans that makes these pests drool as they gravitate from all corners of your home toward your bed. High doses of human aldehydes actually repel bed bugs. Instead, the CO2, warmth and moisture your body emits can lure these bloodthirsty bed bugs to your bedside, all of which they can sense from three feet away. Beyond that, they search for blood meals in random patterns.

GUESS WHO ELSE IS COMING TO DINNER

Bed bug behavior is based around invading, multiplying and completely taking over your bed. After feeding, they return to their hidden trenches to digest the blood meals and begin the vicious bed bug mating process.

A single female lays between one and 12 eggs each day and between 200 and 500 eggs in a lifetime. Guess where all those offspring will be feeding? Now, multiply that reproduction rate by each bed bug in your home, and it’s clear why the pros say it’s never just one bed bug.

After hatching, bed bugs require a meal of blood between each of their five nymph stages. Molting occurs after each phase, which makes exoskeletons (i.e., bed bug shells) a telltale secondary sign of infestation. Immature bed bugs continue to become darker and larger as they feed between each phase until they reach adulthood. An egg can fully mature into an adult in as little as a month and a half if conditions are right (between 70°F and 90°F). The average lifespan of an adult bed bug ranges anywhere from four months to over a year with the right conditions. They spend this entire time feeding, mating and expanding the infestation.

What we know about bed bug behavior tells us this feeding and mating cycle will continue relentlessly. That is why you need a professional. Bed bugs are very difficult to control for several reasons. They can go a whole year without feeding, can survive any temperature between freezing and 122°F and are even evolving to resist standard pyrethroid insecticides.

UNMISTAKABLE SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE BED BUGS

Don’t rely on bites as a reliable sign of bed bugs. Bed bug bites can be hard to differentiate from other insect bites. Instead, look for secondary signs of bed bug infestation as well, such as shed skins, rust-colored spots on the mattress and bedding (bed bug feces), blood spots on your sheets and pajamas and a musty, sweet-smelling odor.

Physically spotting these insatiable insects is the gold standard for diagnosing a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, bed bugs are nocturnal so catching one is difficult. If you get lucky, place captured bed bugs in a sealed container and show them to an expert.

Be sure to call Terminix® at the first sign of bed bugs. We understand bed bug behavior and will provide a free bed bug inspection for your home and a battle plan to win the war against bed bugs.

Is It Possible That I Have Only 1 Bed Bug?

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When I receive a call from a potential customer, one of the things I’m told very frequently is, “I think I might have bed bugs.” Not a bed bug, but bed bugs (plural). It’s a natural, commonplace way to describe the issue. Yet, what I’m also asked on occasion is, “It is possible I only have 1 bed bug?” I’ve always felt it’s an excellent question when asked, and a question worth talking about more in detail.

When a person has unknowingly brought a bed bug infestation into their home (or workplace, etc), they’ve either brought in a non-fertile single bed bug, or, more than one bed bugs at once, or, a single fertile female bed bug with the ability to reproduce. Certainly, if you’re going to get an infestation, the first scenario is without question the best case to have. You’ll be able to remediate the problem much more quickly.

We performed an inspection recently that was quite possibly a 1 bed bug infestation:

When we arrived at the customer’s apartment, the customer showed me the series of bites she had talked about on the phone. Having seen many bed bug bites over the past few years, her bites clearly resembled those performed by a bed bug. She had bites in 2 different areas: first, a 3-bite pattern on her leg, and then, a couple of bites on her arm. She said she’d received the first set of bites 8 days earlier, and then the most recent ones on her arm the night before (which is why she called us). It’s not good news at all that she was receiving bites, but, it was good that she was having a reaction to the bites – her welts were very noticeable, even the ones still present from 8 days ago – and her reaction triggered her phone call.

Rockie (our bed bug dog) and I performed a detailed search of the apartment, and our search yielded no positive alerts (an alert is the indication the dog gives that there is a live bed bug presence) until we entered the customer’s bed room. There, our dog alerted to the right side of her mattress/boxspring. The alert took place on the side of the bed that the customer sleeps on, and it was the only alert we received in that room. We finished the inspection, and the dog didn’t alert anywhere else in the apartment.

Upon visual inspection, I lifted up the mattress, checked both sides thoroughly, and found nothing except a few droppings near the seam of the mattress. The droppings were an indication that a live bed bug had had a feeding, and then relieved itself, in that spot. But a bed bug itself was not there. When I checked the boxspring, that’s when we found a culprit – 1 very large bed bug sitting right on the underside lip of the boxspring – in full view once the boxspring was turned over. The customer could see that it was a large bed bug full of blood, and I found it exactly where the dog had alerted. Keeping in mind that a dog will provide the same alert whether there’s 1 bed bug present or more than 1 bed bug present, I continued to search, and found no other bugs. It doesn’t mean there wasn’t any more bed bugs present (they are extremely difficult for humans to find, especially when small infestations are present), but there weren’t any more that I was able to find. (a sidenote here: Boxsprings are particularly difficult to search, because of the vacancies and underlying mesh that can conceal & camouflage a bed bug – especially smaller bed bugs).

Given everything we learned during the search, this was a location where it was possible that only 1 bed bug was present. The customer had a bite pattern that resembled the presence of 1 bed bug, and I happened to find one live bed bug. My advice to the customer was to still take actions to eliminate & control a bed bug presence, because there’s obviously the potential of more bed bugs being present. She purchased a mattress and boxspring cover from us (at a wholesale price), as well as Climbup interceptors, and put them in place immediately on the 4 corners of her bed frame legs. If any more bed bugs were present on either the mattress or inside the boxsping, she’d trapped them right away. Any service that ensued could now be targeted within the room, including the areas closest to the bed where there could still be a live bed bug presence. She also purchased do-
it-yourself, safe pesticides that she was going to apply on the bed frame and surrounding areas the next day, right before she knew she’d be out of the apartment for a while ( in order to avoid any unpleasant pesticide odor at the time of application).

These actions gave her a great chance of controlling any bed bug presence within her sleeping quarters. I’ll add here that licensed pest control company service should always be considered when a bed bug infestation exists, because a good company has the experience and resources needed to bring an infestation under control, and well-concealed fertile bed bugs can and will reproduce very quickly if a do-it-yourself approach is not successful. Yet, sometimes, a person can take action that can start to bring a bed bug infestation under control quickly, especially if a small number of bed bugs are present. Or in some cases, 1 bed bug.

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