A bed bug’s life span is affected by many different factors including: temperature, humidity, food availability, and genetics. In ideal conditions in a laboratory, bed bugs typically live for 6-12 months, with some living beyond the year mark. In the harsh conditions of the real world, however, they do not usually live that long, with 4-6 months being common estimates.
Finding adequate blood meals, avoiding predators (spiders, roaches, centipedes, etc.), and adapting to the environment are all difficulties that bed bugs face. If the bed bug survives to adulthood, it will reproduce and add to the infestation.
What is the timeline for bed bug development?
Reaching maturity and being able to reproduce can happen in just over a month. After bed bug eggs are laid, it will take anywhere from 6-17 days for the eggs to hatch. The young bed bugs are called nymphs. The nymphs must go through 5 different molts (instars) before they are considered adults. In perfect conditions, the process from egg to adult can happen in as little as 37 days. This is why infestations can grow so rapidly. Temperature is one of the biggest factors that determines development and lifespan. Bed bugs will remain active in temperatures between 57-97 degrees Fahrenheit, but they tend to develop faster when temperatures are on the warmer end of that spread. When temperatures drop below the desired range, bed bugs will go into a state of inactivity, but will not die. It takes extremely cold or hot temperatures to kill bed bugs.
How long can bed bugs live without feeding?
Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood and need it to molt and to produce eggs. Unfortunately, bed bugs have adapted to be able to go a long time without feeding if necessary. While they will normally feed around twice a week, it has been observed in laboratories that bed bugs can go up to a year without feeding. This is an extreme example, however, and typical times of survival between meals usually ranges from a few weeks to a few months depending on the conditions.
What does this mean for you?
Knowing about a bed bug’s life cycle and how quickly it can grow to maturity helps homeowners understand that infestations should be handled as quickly as possible. A bed bug’s ability to go without food for long periods of time also makes it unwise to try to starve a bed bug by vacating the home for a while. This approach will not work and should not be attempted. Through this information, you may also realize that an infestation can reappear months after you initially believed it to be taken care of due to hatching eggs that were not destroyed. Once you understand this, you can be more cautious when declaring the home bed bug-free and make an effort to keep up on the treatment for longer than it might seem necessary.
Luckily, help is available for bed bug infestations. Pf Harris makes home pest control products that will get rid of bed bugs for good. We sell everything from sprays to powders to help you tackle these unwanted house guests. Check out our great line of products today.