How long can bed bugs live without food?

Bed bugs are notorious for living in mattresses and being a nuisance to get rid of. However, a bed bug's lifespan is 6-18 months without food. This means that according to many studies, it would take more than one year for an average infestation to die off from starvation alone!

If you think you might be dealing with bed bugs, then this article is for you! We will cover everything from what bedbugs look like to how long they can live without food. Hopefully, after reading this, your questions will be answered, and you'll know exactly what to do when the time comes.


What is a bed bug?

The bedbug is an insect that has been known for thousands of years and lives mainly in large cities. Although it practically disappeared after the Second World War, its population has been multiplying since the 1990s. 

The bedbug is a crawling insect of the Cimicidae family that measures, in adulthood, between 5 and 8 mm long by 1 mm high. It seeps almost everywhere: in the seams of mattresses or armchairs, in tiny cracks, behind baseboards and moldings.

Where Do Bed Bugs Live?

Bed bugs mostly live in bedrooms, where they bite sleepers at night to feed on their blood. Bed bugs avoid the light and hide: 

  • Around mattresses and box springs; 
  • In the bed frames; 
  • In cracks in walls, floors, and furniture; 
  • Behind the tables; 
  • Under the moldings; 
  • In electrical outlets; 
  • In any other object offering a dark and narrow place where they can hide. A slot the thickness of a credit card is enough to provide shelter. 

Bed bugs can take up residence in rich and poor alike, in clean and unclean homes. 

But, unlike lice or other parasites, bed bugs do not live on humans. 

How Often Do Bed Bugs Feed?

The bedbug feeds on blood, which makes it a parasite and our nightmare. Both males and females bite us to suck our blood as a mosquito would. The meal lasts 3 to 15 minutes. The insect then hides for digestion, which usually takes several days. A bug bites on average once a week. The mosquito's saliva acts as an anticoagulant to keep the blood fluid and facilitate aspiration during the bite. The result: a skin reaction to the insect's saliva, traces of mosquito-like bites, causing itching; the strength varies from person to person. The bites are on parts of the body that are uncovered during sleep. The bites can form characteristic lines but also spread all over the body. Bedbugs are especially active at night, so the bedroom is their chosen land. Fleeing the light during the day, they fold into dark, narrow, and inaccessible places: box springs, mattresses, bed frames but also cupboards, plinths, etc. 

Factors that Affect Bed Bug Survival without Food

Its average lifespan varies between 10 and 12 months. Some of them, however, can live for more than a year. This is because bed bugs can survive for several months without feeding. The best thing for a bedbug to live in is an environment where the temperature is 20 ° C to 28 ° C. These temperatures are ideal for it to live, reproduce and thrive throughout the year. 

However, the more the temperature drops, the longer the lifespan of a bedbug. So, if at 27 ° C, the average life span of a bedbug is 65 days when the temperature drops to 10 ° C, it can live more than 400 days. Likewise, its lifespan is further extended when the bedbug is deprived of food. 

On the other hand, they are sensitive to extreme temperatures, representing one of the most interesting ecological solutions for anti-bedbugs treatments. 

Our advice for spotting the presence of bedbugs at home?

Bedbugs hide during the day and come out at night to bite their victim (the exact term is "bite"). Noticing the presence of bedbugs can be difficult unless you are well informed and know what and how to check.

First of all, be aware that a bedbug infestation is in no way linked to hygiene or the dilapidated nature of the premises. On the other hand, perfect daily hygiene, vigil, and permanent fight are essential factors in reducing insects' contamination and dispersion. 

The different signs of infestation

Several observations may suggest a bedbug infestation:


Pimples caused by bedbug bites (specifically saliva inoculated during bites) can come out after a few hours and up to 14 days after the bite. They usually show up online or bundled together.

The reactions are person-dependent, which means that some people have no skin reaction while others have very strong or even severe reactions. 


It is rare but not impossible to see bedbugs moving around even in broad daylight. Usually, when you see bedbugs, the infestation is already at an advanced stage.

The young or immature are light in color (on an empty stomach), making them inconspicuous and difficult to detect at the start of the infestation.

Adult bedbugs are brown and therefore easier to identify. 

Traces of droppings

Bedbug droppings are mostly digested blood. Therefore, they are black and liquid when broadcast.

Isolated, their size is 1 to 3 mm, and they permeate the fabric.

On non-absorbent structures, they form a small, more or less pasty mass similar to an ink stain. 

Traces of blood

The traces of blood on the sheets may correspond to: 

  • To the metabolism of the bedbug. A bedbug can gain up to twice its weight during a meal. When she has overfed, she leaves a characteristic trail of blood behind her and leaves her victim to reach her hiding place.
  • To the crushing of a bedbug while the victim was sleeping.
  • At a scratched button. 

Eggs and molts

The eggs measure about 1mm, whitish in color, and they are laid singly or in small clusters of 5 to 15 units. Stuck by the bugs, they adhere where they were laid. As a result, they are difficult to remove, particularly on textiles (clothing, suitcases, bags, etc.), hence the need to brush and treat all textiles, not just shake them.

When the young or immature change stage, they enlarge and change "skin." It is, therefore, common to find molts of bedbugs at infestation sites. Unfortunately, these molts are very clear and, therefore, also difficult to spot. 

Conclusion :

Bed bugs are resilient parasites that can live without food for up to a year. If you have bed bug issues, it's important to be vigilant around your home and be proactive in preventing them from coming back. There are natural remedies to get rid of these pesky creatures, so we recommend that you read this article: - How to get rid of bed bugs naturally.

Also helpful:

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In An Empty House

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