Let’s face it, the sheer mention of bed bugs makes you automatically think of those itchy bites they like to inflict upon us whilst we sleep.
But why do bed bugs bite? Well pretty much to feed is the simple answer. Bed bugs feed on a diet of blood, and need it to fully complete their life cycle.
Bed bugs feed mainly on the blood of humans, however they can also feed on pets such as cats and dogs. This is due to bed bugs being attracted to the warmth and carbon dioxide, something both humans and pests emit whilst breathing.
When do bed bugs feed?
Most of the time, bed bugs tend to feed on us during the night. This is so that they can enjoy their midnight snack in peace and quiet without being disturbed by us.
However, there are some cases, only if the bed bug is starving that it might come out during the day to feast on your blood.
Do bed bugs eat other food?
Unlike some other insects such as house flies and cockroaches, bed bugs don’t forage for multiple sources of food. They can only survive off the blood of a host subject.
Although they need blood to survive, bed bugs can’t rely on scavenging for spilt blood, they have to feed directly from a host subject. This is believed to be due to a mixture of factors such as temperature and pressure.
How often do bed bugs feed?
Under normal conditions, bed bugs will feed around once every week. Female bed bugs need to feed before they reproduce. Bed bug nymphs, on the other hand, need to feed before moving on to the next instar (stage) in their journey into adulthood, this could be as often as once a day.
Bed bugs feed within a limited range of their nest. So, if you have a bed bug infestation in your home, the bed bugs feeding on you at night aren’t the same ones that are tucking into your family members in other rooms. Each piece of furniture and room can have it’s own family of bed bugs dwelling there.
How long can bed bugs live without feeding?
Bed bugs can go without feeding for up to five months if conditions are favourable. However, this is only the case for adult bed bugs, as bed bug nymphs are a bit more dependable on food.
Bed bug nymphs need to feed more often to help complete their life cycle, but they can still survive a few weeks without needing a blood meal. Bed bug nymphs, during the 4-5th instars, can last longer without feeding than those in their infancy.
The University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources state that there have been cases where adult bed bugs have lasted 400 days without feeding at low temperatures.