How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In Various Environments

The wingless and small species of insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals are called bed bugs. The scientific name of the two main species of bed bugs known to humans are Cimex Hemipterus and Cimex Lectularius. All the bed bugs belong to the family Cimicidae. Bed bugs may be as old as the human civilization, as these have been found in the ancient Egyptian tombs that date back to 3500 years from now. They have now also evolved to live and dwell in the bat roosts and bird nests.

Bed bugs are named so because they can adapt to the human environment and prefer to live in bed mattresses, sofas/couches, soft furnishing, and even the clothing of humans. They prefer dark areas. Bed bugs are one of the most recurrent problems that have been faced by humans in dormitories, private homes, army barracks, cruise ships, and other kinds of shelters and dwellings. Some important characteristics of bed bugs and their feeding patterns are given below.

  • Bed bugs feed on the blood of their hosts (including humans) at the time the hosts are asleep.
  • The most preferable feeding time for bed bugs is somewhere from midnight to 5:00 a.m. in the morning.
  • Adult bed bugs can be easily located and are visible in no more than 14 days.
  • Bed bugs can only reproduce, grow in size and numbers, and lay their eggs if they can feed themselves regularly. However, they can live without food for many months.

What do bed bugs look like?

If you can identify the bed bugs, you can control them better. The size and the look of the bed bugs may vary a bit based on the region and country. However almost all of them have certain similar identification marks and characteristics, which are described in brief below.

  • They are the size of a seed of an apple and may measure somewhere between 5 mm to 7 mm.
  • Bed bugs have a long and elongated body and a brown color. Their body may also have a somewhat oval curve and shape.
  • The well-fed bed bugs have the shape of a balloon and may acquire a more reddish-brown color.
  • A bed bug may have a musty and sweetest odor and smell that is due to the secretions of the bugs from the glands located in their body.
  • If you examine a bed bug closely, you will find that it has a beak (having three segments), an antenna (having 4 parts), hairs (of golden color), and wings (that cannot fly).

The younger and newly born bed bugs may not be easily visible, as they are very small and have a translucent or a yellow-white color. The eggs of a bed bug have the size of the head of a pin and are white in color.


The life cycle of bed bug

The different stages of the life cycle of a bed bug is given below. They develop from an egg to be a nymph and an adult. The life cycle of a bed bug is given below.

  • Eggs of 1 mm thickness.
  • Nymphs (there 5 different nymph stages where the bed bug can grow from a size of 1.5 mm at the first stage to 4.5 mm by the 5th stage).
  • Unfed adult male or female.

Bed bugs can only pass from one life stage to another if they keep on feeding themselves. They also keep on shedding their exoskeletons to grow bigger and larger. Bed bugs will reproduce when they keep on obtaining their blood meal. A bed bug may develop from an egg to a mature female or male in approximately 37 days. The life of an adult bed bug is closed to a year if they get favorable temperatures and blood meals.

Can bedbugs die out naturally?

As stated, the natural life of bed bugs is closed to a year. Therefore, if left on their own, and if they get favorable temperature and meals, they will continue to live for a year and die naturally after that period. Bed bugs will also die if their body temperature is more than 45Celsius. Exposing the bed bugs to a high temperature can kill them, no matter at what live stage they are. Bed bugs will be killed rapidly at a temperature of 60Celcius or more. Bed bugs will also die at extreme cold and below a temperature of -18Celcius. This low temperature has to be sustained for 4 days for killing the bugs and their eggs.

How long can bed bugs live on clothes?

The answer to the question “How long do bed bugs live on clothes?” is approximately 4 to 5 months. In the majority of cases, bed bugs can live on clothes for up to 4 months. They even do not require any meal during the period. However, they may lay during the period. The eggs they lay on will grow again into nymphs and adult bed bugs. One thing to remember is that bed bugs will continue to live for longer periods as well if they keep obtaining their blood meals. If you find bugs in your clothes, you should get them cleaned and treated immediately. You should not wear such clothes until they are free from bugs.

How long can bed bugs live in a handbag?

Bed bugs can readily live in handbags and all other kinds of luggage. They are an endemic pest found in many different parts of the world. Their period of stay in the handbags can be from one month to a maximum of 5 months. They may also lay their eggs during the period. Bed bugs will only die after a 5-month period if they do not get their meals.

How long can bed bugs live in closed plastic bags?

Bed bugs can live in closed plastic bags for up to 5 months. They may not require meals during the period as well and may also lay their eggs.

How long can bed bugs live without food?

Bed bugs can live without food for up to 400 days if all other conditions including humidity and temperature are favorable. If a bed bug is at a later stage of development and nymph, it can survive for an even longer period without requiring any feeding. The young bed bugs may not live if they do not get their meal within 30 days. Laboratory tests reveal that the adult bed bugs and the more mature nymphs can easily survive for almost a year under ideal conditions.

Do bed bugs go dormant?

Bed bugs can also go dormant like all other kinds of insects. This hibernation condition is also called “diapause”. During the period of diapause, the bed bug metabolism rate will slow down and it will be able to conserve more energy. Bed bugs usually go dormant when the environmental conditions are not favorable to their life and growth. They resume their life activities once the conditions are conductive again. Bed bugs can be dormant for up to hundreds of days. However, the bed bugs found in homes do not go dormant usually. It is so because the conditions of the home and business establishments are favorable for the growth and life of bed bugs. There are no extreme variations and the humidity is also controlled. Bed bugs can also obtain their meals easily.

Can bed bugs live in your car?

Bed bugs can travel to your car through your furniture, clothes, bags, luggage, and other kinds of items. However, bed bugs are transported into the cars by humans only. Therefore, they are not found in large numbers in the automobiles. However once inside the car, they can keep themselves alive for a long period and up to 5 months or so. They can draw blood from mammals and humans whenever they get an opportunity.

How to get rid of Bed Bugs?

If you know the process and the details of it, you can get rid of bed bugs with your own efforts. However, to remove the bed bugs from infested areas, you first need to identify them. Bed bugs are often found in couches, bed mattresses, curtain folds, and other areas that provide dark shades. They may also grow in the furniture joints, base boards, and electrical outlets, beneath the posters and paintings, under the loose wallpapers, and in wall ceilings (at the joints). You can also use a magnifying glass and a flashlight to have a better view of these dark areas. Once you have identified the bed bug infestation in your home, you need to follow the process given below.


CONTAIN THE BED BUG INFESTATION: the bed bug infestation can be contained so that it does not grow further. You can run your vacuum over the hiding places including dressers, beds, electronic items, and carpets. The vacuumed content can be placed inside the plastic bag and should be thrown away. You should also clean your vacuum cleaner thoroughly once the task is done. All the affected clothes and the linens should be washed in a high-temperature setting. You can also put the clothes in a dryer (for approximately 30 minutes) for killing the bed bugs.

PREPARE FOR THE TREATMENT OF BED BUGS: clean your floors and remove all the items including clothes, magazines, and books, that are placed on the floor. Do not hold on to unnecessary items and throw away whatever you do not need. The items from an infested room should not be kept in a clean room as it may spread the infestation. You also need to seal all the open areas. For instance, you can tape the electrical outlets if they are open and glue the loose wallpapers. The cracks in the base boards and furniture should also be caulked.

KILLING THE BED BUGS: bed bugs can be cleaned by using chemicals and in other ways. If you do not want to use chemicals, you can kill the bed bugs by exposing them to high heat (of more than 45Celcius). You can also expose them to intense cold (of less than 10Celcius) to kill them. For heating, you can use the dryers or the steamers. You can also place all the infested items including bed mattresses, clothes, and others out in the open sun on a hot day so that the bed bugs go away.

The bed bugs can also be removed chemically and by the use of insecticides. However, use only insecticides that are approved US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Some of the insecticides that can be used for treating and cleaning killing bed bugs include:

  • Pyrroles
  • Pyrethroids
  • Pyrethrins
  • Desiccants
  • Products based on plant oil
  • Big bombs or foggers


You can do most of the bug removal activities yourself and do not require professional services. However, if you find the task to be overwhelming or if you do not have enough time, you can always call the expert and professional home cleaning services that may also help you get rid of molds and other kinds of adverse growths in your home or office.

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