How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

Bed Bug

At first, I thought why would someone ask a question like how long can bed bugs live without food? Then I realized that bed bugs feed on blood, which likely prompted the question. Some people wonder what happens if we somehow deprive bed bugs of their food. Since bed bugs primarily rely on blood, if we were to leave the house for a few days, would the bed bugs die? If you are thinking the same way, then here’s an unpleasant fact for you. Bed bugs can survive for long without feeding on blood, typically ranging from 20 days to 400 days.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

Bed bugs can live longer without feeding. This is because they move into a semi-hibernation state when they do not find food for survival. The semi-hibernation state is an inactive state that allows bed bugs to slow down their metabolism and save energy.

Even though most bed bugs can live up to a few months, some of them can survive more than a year. On average, an adult bed bug can live up to 2-4 months at room temperature, usually around 21–24°C (70–75°F). In certain conditions, especially at low temperatures (not extremely low) in the laboratory, some adult bed bugs can live more than 400 days.

However, they will become thin and weak without feeding. A malnourished bed bug would have a slender body and reddish-brown skin. The skin of a baby bed bug will also turn pale yellow if it does not get food.

What Factors Affect Bed Bugs’ Survival?

There are several factors including environmental conditions that determine how long can bed bugs live without food. Here are some crucial factors that can influence the life span of a bed bug-

  • Temperature:

Temperature plays a crucial role in the survival of bed bugs. The moderately warm environmental conditions are ideal for bed bugs, ranging from 20-30°C. Extreme temperatures like extremely hot or cold environments are not good for bed bug’s survival. Bed bugs are more likely to die below -17°C and above 45°C. therefore, if you want to get rid of bed bugs, you can put the infested clothes or bedding in the freezer for at least a couple of days. However, that would not be a good idea as some bed bugs can still live there.

  • Humidity:

The ideal humidity for bed bugs is moderately high humidity, usually ranging from 75-100%. Bed bugs are more likely to die at too high or too low humidity levels.

  • Stress:

Even though it may sound weird, stress can actually affect the lifespan of bed bugs. A bed bug can live longer when they are provided with enough food sources and appropriate temperatures. Bed bugs may experience heightened stress levels under environmental disturbances, such as extreme temperatures, lack of access to food, pesticide exposure, etc., resulting in a shortened lifespan for bed bugs.

  • Age:

Age can significantly influence a bed bug’s ability to tolerate starvation. For instance, a baby bed bug or nymph requires blood more frequently for necessary development in their body. Therefore, in comparison to adult bugs, nymphs can survive starvation for a shorter period of time. While an adult bug can go several months without food, a nymph can only survive for 2-3 weeks.

  • Health:

A healthy bed bug will comparatively live longer than a malnourished bed bug. If a bed bug is already malnourished or deprived of food, it will not survive long without food.

  • Predators:

Some insects such as centipedes, dust mites, and spiders feed on bed bugs. While centipedes and spiders target adult bed bugs, dust mites feed on bed bug eggs and nymphs. Therefore, the predators can shorten the lifespan of a bed bug.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

There are different ways to eliminate the bed bugs. Let’s learn about how to get rid of bed bugs.

  • Use Heat Treatment:

Heat treatment is one of the most effective ways to eliminate bed bugs of all ages, from bed bug eggs to adult bed bugs. This method involves increasing the temperature of the room to a certain level that is deadly to bed bugs.

  • Hire Professional Inspector:

Some pest control companies provide support from experienced and professional inspectors. They will thoroughly inspect the infested area and identify the best treatment for eliminating the bed bugs.

Conclusion

In general, a bed bug can live for several months without feeding. At the right environmental conditions, some bed bugs can even survive more than a year. However, several factors, including temperature, humidity, age, health, and stress can influence the lifespan of a bed bug.

It’s wise to opt for a professional bed bug treatment to get rid of these pests, instead of relying on starvation to eliminate bed bugs.