Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood. They require a blood meal between each of their five nymphal stages as they grow to adulthood, and again to produce eggs. While bed bugs do not feed on a predictable schedule, when food is widely available, a bed bug will feed every 5-10 days or approximately once a week.
When a food source is more difficult to find, a bed bug can go a very long time without a meal. In perfect lab conditions with optimal temperature and humidity, bed bugs can go up to 400 days without feeding! However, in normal room temperatures and humidity levels, the time they can go without blood is drastically shortened to approximately 3-5 months. Since bed bugs do not need to feed very often, at any one time, the majority of bed bugs in the home are digesting and not actively seeking another blood meal.
A bed bug bite is usually painless and goes unnoticed at the time of feeding. This is because bed bugs have anesthetic in their saliva, which numbs the skin. Bed bug feeding almost always occurs at night while humans are sleeping. A typical meal can last from about 3-10 minutes, but a bed bug may pierce the skin several times in one feeding to get enough blood. This can create a series of bites in a cluster or a zig zag pattern.
Bed bug bites By James Heilman, MD [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Since bed bugs can go so long without feeding, it is unwise to try to starve them by leaving the house uninhabited for a period of time. This rarely if ever works. Instead, face the problem head on as soon as you notice signs of bed bugs. PF Harris products are designed for home pest control and feature many different bed bug solutions. Get rid of bed bugs for good by finding the right Harris product for your situation.