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How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in an Empty House?

Bed bugs can be the bane of anybody’s existence. These little insects, who like creeping up on your bed, can completely infest your bed without you even noticing. They are tiny, nocturnal, and hard to spot. Their bites are not painful; in fact, most people can’t tell if they have even been bitten unless they develop welts and sores, which a lot of people don’t. Because of all these reasons, it takes a while before you can even recognize a bed bug problem in your house.

The bed bugs prefer making their homes in places like mattresses, couches, sofas, and recliners. While they are commonly found in these places, and the name suggests that these bugs live exclusively in beds, they do not limit themselves to just beds. A bed bug will live in any environment where it is close to its food source. It can live in travel suitcases, theater seats, and train seats. If left unchecked, bed bugs will spread to other parts of the house as well, including furniture, cracks, and carpets.

In the absence of human company, the bed bugs will feed on any warm-bodied creature, such as rodents, cats, dogs, and other animals. It can also go for a long time without feeding and still stay alive. Some claim that bed bugs can survive up to a year without feeding on humans, but that is an extreme number to quote. Typically, bed bugs in an empty house can survive up to 6-8 months on average in the perfect living conditions, but their survival largely depends on two factors: the age of the bed bug and the temperature of the house.

Bed Bugs – Get to Know the Invader

Bed bugs are a nuisance. Once an infestation occurs, they are very hard to get rid of, especially if the problem has spread to other parts of the house as well. Infestation isn’t very quick, though. Compared to other insects, bed bugs don’t reproduce that rapidly, and they also take time to mature. So if you spot the bed bugs early enough and get rid of them, you will not have to take drastic measures to get rid of the problem.

Bed bugs are small, brownish, wingless insects that look a lot like ticks. But unlike ticks, they cannot live on their hosts’ bodies and have to settle somewhere nearby, where they have easy access to their blood supply. Bed bugs cannot fly, but they can scurry pretty fast across your bed, giving you only a fraction of a second to recognize what they are.

However, no matter how disgusting they might seem when they’re crawling along the seams of your mattress, and however big of a nuisance they become, rest assured in the knowledge that bed bugs don’t really harm humans. They might give you minor skin reactions and painful welts, but they carry no diseases that they can transfer to you, and no serious harm can come to you from being exposed to bed bugs.

Though they are not dangerous, if you discover a bed bug infestation after you get back from a long vacation, you can call in pest control services, who will use pesticides and undertake other activities to eliminate the bugs from your place.

How Long Exactly Can they Go without Human Blood in an Empty House?

In case you leave your house unattended, the bed bugs will eventually die. That’s the deal with any living thing, right? Take away its food source, and it will eventually starve to death. But how long is eventually? How long it would take for a complete bed bug die-off within your house is dependent on a couple of factors.

It turns out, these little suckers are not so easy to get rid of. Their survival instincts are incredibly strong, and they have adapted themselves to survive in almost all climatic conditions and with very little food to get on with. Only the most extreme conditions will kill them off completely and surely. You might need to get professionals involved in case of an infestation that has gotten out of hand.

While bed bugs like to feed on a human, if they don’t have access to the human blood supply, they will make do with any warm-bodied creature. So don’t think they’re going to die out by themselves by the time you come back from your long vacation. Rodents, cats, dogs, and other small animals present in your house are enough to sustain them for months.

Adult bed bugs try to feed every 3-7 days, while their offspring, called nymphs, need to feed even less frequently. However, in the absence of a blood meal readily available, these little blood-suckers can go into hibernation to conserve energy. This can allow them to go for months without having a blood meal.

How long a bed bug survives in an empty house mostly depends on two factors; their age and the temperature of the house.

Age

Younger bed bugs are called nymphs. After hatching, they take about 5-6 weeks before they mature into fully-grown adults. These nymphs go through stages before they can become fully-formed bed bugs. For them to pass through each stage, they need a blood meal. However, they can go weeks without consuming blood.

Adult, matured bed bugs are a different story altogether. They try to feed themselves every 3-7 days to replenish themselves. You can tell when a bed bug has eaten, as its stomach inflates, and it moves around sluggishly.

However, in case the bug does not have a human host at its disposal, adult bed bugs have ways of conserving energy and outliving the food-scarce times. An adult bed bug can lose up to 1/3 of its body weight to conserve energy and last longer without proper food. Adult bed bugs are also capable of going into hibernation and sleep through the food famine period. So, if the conditions are right, the adult bed bugs can power through in an empty house, and wake up when it can feed.

Females also need blood meals to help them form eggs and lay eggs. Nymphs need 5 blood meals before they are ready to mate. In a truly empty house, where they don’t have a blood host, bed bugs cannot mature quickly enough and cannot lay eggs quickly or effectively enough.

Temperature

Temperature also plays a big role in how long bed bugs can live in an unoccupied house. The lifespan of the bed bugs can vary drastically with the temperature in a particular house.

Bed bugs survive best at moderate temperatures, say 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In a controlled environment at approximately the same consistent temperatures, bed bugs can survive for up to 6-8 months. So, in tropical countries or during springtime, bed bugs are well-suited to survive without much food.

As temperatures drop, the bed bugs find it harder to cope. However, they can withstand temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs have many life-saving techniques up their sleeves. In colder regions, if they are trapped in an empty house, bed bugs will hibernate. Reducing its energy consumption to almost zero, the bed bugs will have no trouble going without food and will focus whatever little energy they have into keeping themselves warm and alive. They also have a semi-hibernation state that they can go into when food is scarce. So, while you can’t create environments cold enough in a house to kill off these creatures, the opposite can work.

Though they have defense mechanisms that help them deal with freezing temperatures, they are not equipped to handle excessive heat that well. If left without a food source in a house that is heating up, their lifespan will decrease drastically. A 15-degree increase in temperature can halve their lifespan, and when temperatures touch 99 degrees Fahrenheit, they can only last a month or two. They cannot withstand temperatures that are beyond 120 degrees – they die when the temperature of a house gets to this point. A boarded up, closed off house in hotter countries can possibly reach temperatures, which will help eliminate bed bugs within two to three months.

Whenever you come back from your vacation or move into a house that has been abandoned for a while, or check into a hotel room, be sure to check the beds and sofas to spot an infestation. Unless you’ve been gone for a long, long time, the bed bugs that you left behind in the hopes that they will be gone by the time you are back will be right there waiting for you.

Bed bugs are well-equipped by nature to survive an empty house for an average of 6-12 months, depending on the conditions provided. If the infestation is too large, you might need pesticides to finish them off. Get professional help and get rid of the little suckers, once and for all.

FAQs

What is the average lifespan of a bed bug?

Bed bugs have an average lifespan of 4 – 6 months under normal living conditions.

How to spot a bed bug infestation?

The best way to spot an infestation is to look closely under your mattresses and the sides where the bugs can hide away safely. You might also observe their shed skin. Sometimes, you can even see tiny spot spots on the sheets or fecal spots made by these bugs.

Do bed bugs indicate unhygienic and unsanitary living conditions?

This is a popular myth, but it is incorrect. Bed bugs are not attracted by germs and dirt; they are attracted by human blood. Bed bug infestations can occur in tidy, well-kept rooms as well as in abandoned, run-down shacks.