How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 Weeks To 4 Months

Bed Bugs are quite resistant bugs that can survive under various stressed conditions. They can survive through extremely high temperatures of India and the Middle East to even extremely low freezing temperatures of Canada. They are extremely adaptable to different temperatures.

Traveling to different and unhygienic places, or having second-hand furniture can lead to bed bugs entering your house and creating their colony. However, you can avoid the spread of these bed bugs by treating them at a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes, frequently vacuuming your home, cleaning your clothes at high temperatures, use of pesticides, and other such measures.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

On average, it is scientifically tested through various experiments, that bed bugs can survive up to anywhere from a minimum of 2 weeks to a maximum of 4 months without having any food.

The time duration for which bed bugs can live without food depends on many factors like their age, their habitat, and their feeding habits as well. Depending on these factors, bed bugs can live anywhere from 2 days to even a complete year without having food.

The major factor among all these is the age of the bed bug. The complete life cycle of a bed bug consists of five stages, starting from hatchling to a completely grown adult. To grow in age and advance the stages, it is important to have enough food, however, in the last stage, or what also can be called the adult stage, bed bugs do not require much food.

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The first four stages of the life cycle of a bed bug are first instar nymph, second instar nymph, third instar nymph, and fourth instar nymph. During these stages, the bed bug has to feed at least 3 to 4 times during each stage to stay alive. If they fail to have their food, then they can live up to a minimum of 2 weeks to a maximum of a month. 

In the adult stage, according to the studies done on bed bugs, it was known that adult bed bugs can live up to 400 days without feeding.

Stages In A Lifespan Of A Bed BugTime
First 4 stages2 weeks to 1 month
Adult stage1 year

Why Do Bed Bugs Live That Long Without Food?

Moreover, bed bugs are unlike other bugs which either feed on organic waste or food crumbs. However, these bed bugs are shaped in such a way that the only food they can have is blood. Another thing to be considered is that these bed bugs can’t consume the blood of any mammal, but just humans. Therefore, these bed bugs are found around humans only where they can have their food.

However, even if they don’t find food for themselves, then also they can live up to a big duration of time. The reason behind that is because bed bugs create a colony where they can find enough food, like closer to bed or any other furniture. Since their habitat is near their food only, they don’t have to search for food and thus travel less. Moreover, in cold temperatures, the bed bugs use less of their energy. Therefore, as a result, they do not need to have food frequently. This is the reason why bed bugs can survive for a long duration of time without having food.

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However, on the other hand, if the bed bugs create their colony away from a good source, then they will have to travel more and as a result, they will require more food. Moreover, if the temperature is also higher than usual then they will have to spend more energy, and thus they will need to have more food. In these conditions, the bed bugs will not be able to survive longer without food.

Conclusion

Normally, found in household areas, these small bugs can be found inside your luggage bags, clothing wardrobes, and in any dark place where not much sunlight enters.

It is important to get rid of bed bugs as their bites can cause a lot of serious health effects, psychological effects, skin rashes, and allergic symptoms. The reason behind that is because their bites are known to transmit many infectious diseases.

References

  1. https://journals.asm.org/doi/abs/10.1128/CMR.05015-11
  2. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.ento.52.040306.133913
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