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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.