A bed bug feeds on a human's blood.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Feeding?

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? The age-old question has plagued generations, but there’s a version for bed bugs, too: if a bed bug has nothing to eat, will there be an infestation? We all know that bed bugs bite humans while they’re sleeping, and if humans aren’t available, then they may turn to household pets. However, if no humans or pets are available and the bugs have no blood to drink, what happens then? How long can they survive without a steady supply of food?

The Life Cycle of a Bed Bug

In order to truly understand bed bugs, it’s important to understand their life cycles. First, a female bed bug can lay one to five eggs per day, meaning she can lay about 500 eggs over her lifetime. An egg, which is about the size of a grain of salt, takes about two weeks to hatch. Once a bed bug hatches, it begins to feed right away. Young bed bugs are known as nymphs, and the nymphal stage lasts about five weeks. They go through five molts, each molt requiring them to feed, and after the fifth one they are considered adults. An adult bed bug is roughly the size of an apple seed. They live four to six months, depending on the conditions of the place they’re living. 

How Often Do They Feed?

The average bed bug feeds once per week, or about every five to ten days. This can vary for several reasons, including availability of food, and that they don’t stick to a strict schedule. However, they do require a meal every time they molt and every time they want to produce eggs. So if you’re not waking up with bed bug bites every day, there may still be an infestation and you should exercise caution. 

How Long Can They Go Without Food?

The answer to this question depends on many factors, so it varies wildly. Bed bugs can live anywhere from 20 to 400 days without food. A young nymph cannot go very long, since food (blood) is required for them to molt and become adults. However, adult bed bugs have been known to go more than 400 days in a laboratory setting without eating! The average survival time without food, however, is roughly five months. 

What Does This Mean?

You might wonder why you should care about how long bed bugs can go without food. The fact that they can go a long time without eating means that even in empty homes, infestations can still happen. If someone has brought an infestation into a home and then moved out or passed away, the infestation can still thrive due to the bugs’ ability to live without food for long periods of time. So don’t assume just because a house is vacant and bed bugs don’t have access to food, that you won’t have a problem. 

Do You Have Bed Bugs?

If you think you have bed bugs or are interested in a home heat sanitation treatment, contact Bed Bug Barbeque, LLC in Lakewood, Ohio! We use heat treatment to eradicate bed bugs and we offer entire home sanitation heat treatments. This safe, effective treatment is completed in less than 12 hours, and Bed Bug Barbeque, LLC offers a 60-day warranty for you to verify for yourself that your bed bugs are fully eradicated. Contact Bed Bug Barbeque, LLC today for a FREE quote at (216) 221-1227 or through our website, and check out our other bed bug informational resources on identification, prevention, and eradication.

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