How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

We will discuss various scenarios if you want to know how long bed bugs take to starve. How long can bed bugs live without food? They can live up to a year in a laboratory setting with no blood meal. However, in most cases, a stage 5 bed bug nymph and adult will live between 6 and 21 weeks.

But how long does it take for a bed bug to go hungry in a real-life environment like a home? The majority of bed bugs will die after a few months without food. However, we have found that there are always a few stronger survivors.

We keep bed bugs in glass training vials with a screen for our bed bug detection dog training program. Some vials have not had a blood meal in 6 months, and many times out of 10 bed bugs, there will be 9 dead ones and 1 live one.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

The bed bug’s lifespan without food can vary depending on weather, environment, and movement. If the bed bugs are not exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures, they will live longer without food.

Another thing to consider is if the house is quiet with minor cleaning and movement, then that will increase their lifespan without food. As the bugs become disturbed, they will use more energy and die faster without a blood meal.

A 2011 study titled “Survivorship During Starvation for Cimex lectularius L” revealed that 5th instars and adults survive the longest without food. In this particular study, on average, they lasted between 6 weeks and 5 months.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without a Host?

Suppose an adult bed bug (or 5th instar) does not have a host to obtain blood from. In that case, it will die in 4 – 5 months, according to the study by Andrea M. Polanco, Dini M. Miller, and Carlyle C. Brewster – “Survivorship During Starvation for Cimex lectularius L.”

When a bed bug does not have a host, it will die faster than if it’s getting regular blood meals. However, you can’t just wrap the mattress in plastic and think that will kill them all. Mainly since bed bugs are found in many places, not just mattresses.

With this in mind, there are some rare cases where bed bugs can last up to a year without a blood meal. Surviving a year without food is not the norm but rather the exception to the rule. Learn more about what causes bed bugs here.

What Do Unfed Bed Bugs Look Like?

What do unfed bed bugs look like?

An unfed baby bed bug will be straw-colored. If you find an adult unfed bed bug, it will be flat, dark reddish brown, and almost paper thin. See the photo below of the unfed bed bug.

unfed baby bed bug

Do Bed Bugs Need Blood to Live?

Yes, bed bugs need blood to live. Bed bugs usually feed at night and can go a long time without a meal. However, they will eventually die if they do not feed. Bed bugs can live outside for some time, searching for a blood meal. Therefore it’s best not to pick up any furniture you find on the street.

It’s essential to remember that if a bed bug does not get human blood, it can feed on other mammals or birds. So, just because no humans are around does not mean that the bed bug is starving.

To learn about their feeding habits, check out a more in-depth answer to “Do bed bugs bite every night?”.

What is the Longest Bed Bugs Can Live?

In rare cases, bed bugs can live up to a year. However, most will die between 4-6 months.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Survive in an Empty House?

On average, bed bugs can thrive in an empty house for three months to a year. The thing to consider is that bed bugs may find some other animal in your vacant house to feed on.

One of our clients bought a house in Brooklyn with a previous bed bug issue. They did not know how to check for bed bugs in the empty house.

Our client thought that the bed bugs would either go away or die if they just waited a few months before moving in. Unfortunately, this method does not work; our client moved their belongings into the house and began getting bites after a few days. It didn’t take long before the client called us to come and inspect.

If you have an empty house and are considering using this method to eliminate bed bugs, think again. The bed bugs had been feeding on some stray cats and rodents living in the house. It’s always best to call a professional pest control company if you are going to move into a place with a prior bed bug history.

How Do Bed Bugs Die Naturally?

A bed bug will die naturally to age-related causes between 4 months and a year. However, if the bug is exposed to chemicals, extreme heat, or cold, it will die on the earlier end of the spectrum.

One of our clients had a bed bug problem and thought they could wait it out. They read that bed bugs would die naturally after a specific time, so they moved into a hotel and let the bed bugs be. Unfortunately, this method did not work, and the client eventually had to call us to help locate and solve the problem.

While it is true that bed bugs will eventually die on their own, it’s always best to call a professional pest company to get rid of them as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more they will multiply and the harder they will be to get rid of.

Bed bugs are a problem that is best solved quickly and not left to chance. If you have a bed bug problem, call us today, and we will be happy to help.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without Food?

Bed bugs can go quite some time without a blood meal, but they will eventually die if they do not feed. Remember that using a plastic mattress cover to seal them up is not a solution. Although bed bugs cannot bite through plastic, they can squeeze through a hole. While bed bugs can live up to a year without food, most will die between 4-6 months. Trying to starve them out is not a good solution for getting rid of them. It’s best to hire bed bug specialists when dealing with resilient pests.

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