How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in an Empty House? Let’s Find Out!

Here we'll explain how long can bed bugs live in an empty house, we'll also provide tips on properly cleaning the house to get rid of the pests while you're away.
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: January 11, 2023
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Bed bugs are nasty little critters that are extremely difficult to get rid of once they’ve made your house their home. Of course, in order for bed bugs to survive, they need a food source. In most cases, the blood of humans is their meal of choice, though they will happily feed off of any warm-blooded creature. But what if there aren’t any creatures for them to nibble on? How long can bed bugs live in an empty house?

Well, this depends on a few factors, including how long they have to go without any human interactions, as well as whether or not there are any replacement food sources for them to feed on between human meals. The temperature of the home can also affect how long the bed bugs live. For more information on how long bed bugs can survive in a vacant home, keep reading.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Without a Host?

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in an Empty House? Let's Find Out!

Bed bugs Trusted Source Bedbugs - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic Bedbugs are small, reddish-brown blood-sucking, wingless insects. Bedbug bites usually clear up without treatment in a week or two. Bedbugs aren’t known to spread disease, but they can cause an allergic reaction or a severe skin reaction in some people. www.mayoclinic.org are small insects with red-brown coloring that are known to live in the nooks and crannies of mattresses, box springs, headboards, and bed frames. They can also be found in nightstands and other furniture around beds. You may even find them beneath peeling paint or wallpaper, in the carpeting around baseboards, in electrical outlets or light switch plates, or the seams of upholstered furniture. They wait patiently until nighttime when humans climb into bed to sleep. Then they emerge, biting into the skin to drink blood.

Though bed bugs can be found in homes, they more frequently infest hotels, hostels, hospitals, and homeless shelters. This is because these buildings have visitors coming in and out much more often, bringing the bugs in with them. In fact, if you’ve noticed a new infestation of bed bugs in your home, they were likely brought in from one of these places, riding along in a suitcase, backpack, or even in your clothing.

Once the bed bugs have made their home in a building, they are quite difficult to eradicate. Of course, if there is nothing for them to feed on, there is the chance that bed bugs can die on their own. The following factors can contribute to their demise.

Lifespan

Bed bugs have a much longer lifespan than you may expect. Their life cycle Trusted Source Bed bugs Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) were almost completely removed from North America due to mass treatments with highly toxic insecticides that are no longer in use. extension.umn.edu begins when a female bed bug lays her eggs, which can number between 200 and 250 and can hatch in 6 to 10 days. The high amount of potential offspring and fast hatching time is just part of the reason why bed bugs are so difficult to remove once they’ve taken up residence in your home.

The hatched bed bugs are in the nymph stage, which is when they begin feeding on the humans, pets, or rodents inhabiting the home. The nymphs must feed at least once before they shed their exoskeleton, the process of which is called molting. They may even feed once each day. When you consider how many eggs there were, it’s no wonder their bites are so easily noticed on your skin. Nymphs molt five times during this stage of their life. If they do not get the blood required to get through all of the molting sessions, they won’t survive, though it can take up to 2 months for the lack of food kills them.

After the fifth molting stage, a bed bug reaches the adult stage, which is when these pests are the hardiest. Though they still need to feed on blood, during this stage of life a bed bug can go semi-dormant, which is a form of hibernation that allows the bed bugs to slow their metabolism to reduce energy use until their next feeding. In fact, they can live up to a year and a half this way before they starve to death.

Temperature survival

Due to their long lifespan, bed bugs can survive in an empty house for much longer than you may expect. Of course, there is another factor that can reduce their lifespan, namely the temperature of the house they are inhabiting. Bed bugs prefer warm temperatures but can’t handle weather that is excessively hot or cold.

In fact, these nasty little critters can only handle a temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for a few days. Any longer than that and the cold will kill them. If you happen to live in a cold climate and discover bed bugs in your home during the winter months, you may be able to eliminate them using those low temperatures. Simply turn off the heat and leave your home for 2 to 3 weeks. After this amount of time in the cold, the bed bugs should die on their own.

Increasing the temperature of your home can also have the same effect on bed bugs. If the temperature of your home reaches 113 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the bed bugs will die. This will also be quite warm for you and your family, so you may want to vacate the home for a week or more to stay comfortable while you eliminate the unwanted pests.

Can they live with other pests?

Humans are a bed bug’s favorite source of food, though they will feed off other animals if there are no people nearby to nibble on. As long as they have contact with something that bleeds the same way humans do, they can still feed. Such alternatives can include pets, like dogs, cats, rabbits, or even hamsters.

Even in a home where the owners and pets have left for a few days or weeks or in a vacant home, there could also be rodents living there that the bed bugs could feed on. This includes mice, rats, or anything else living in your home. If there are even a few of these around, a bed bug can survive for several months without a single human to nourish them.

Do Bed Bugs Ever Go Away?

Since bed bugs need the exact right conditions to die off on their own, including a lack of food and either excessively hot or cold temperatures, it is quite rare for you to rid your home of them without some help. Luckily, there are several methods for killing bed bugs in your home. This will ensure that you get rid of all the bugs for a safer, healthier household. When they are gone, you can also go out freely without worrying about carrying unwanted travelers to stores, hotels, or the homes of friends and family members.

Wash clothes

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in an Empty House? Let's Find Out!

When trying to rid an empty house of bed bugs, you need to follow similar methods that you would in a lived-in home. First, remove all the clothing from any suitcases, boxes, dressers, and closets. Place them in plastic bags and seal them tight. This prevents any of the bed bugs from escaping as you transport the bags to a washing machine. Do the same for all of the sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels.

When washing the clothing, use hot water to kill any of the bed bugs on the clothing and other fabric items. It’s also a good idea to dry them using high heat if possible to eliminate any bugs that survived the washing machine.

When the clothing, bedding, and other items are all clean, place them into new plastic bags until the bed bugs are removed from the rest of the home. You can also try one of the best bed bug foggers to kill the pests in your bedrooms before bringing the clothing back in.

Spray furniture

Another method for getting rid of bed bugs in an empty home is by spraying the furniture using one of the best bed bug sprays on the market. These are designed to kill bed bugs and their eggs, though some sprays take a few applications to eliminate all of the bed bugs in the home. The Ortho Home Defense Max Bed Bug, Flea, and Tick Killer is the second step of a 3-step system designed to eliminate even the hardiest pests and includes a Comfort Wand that lets you apply the spray into hard-to-reach spots.

Even if you’re sure all the bed bugs are gone, you can take extra steps to prevent their return. One option is using the best bed bug mattress covers to trap any bed bugs that could still be living on your mattress and prevent them from biting you while you sleep. You can also place ShieldFleX TruGuardX Bed Bug Traps beneath the legs of your bed and other furniture, trapping the bugs so they can’t climb the furniture legs and reach you when you’re sleeping in bed or relaxing on the couch.

Check all suitcases and boxes

Checking all suitcases and boxes is another way to prevent bringing bed bugs from an infested location to a clean one. Keep in mind that bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, so they can be tricky to see with the naked eye.

To see them better, you may want to use a bright LED light while inspecting all of your suitcases, bags, briefcases, and boxes.

If you’re unsure that these items are clear of the bugs, you can also use one of the best steamers for bed bugs to kill any you can’t see. You can also steam your floors, furniture, and anything else that may be hiding a few of the pests.

Bathe pets

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in an Empty House? Let's Find Out!

As well as the cracks in floors and seams of furniture, bed bugs love to hide in the abundant hair of your pets. If you plan to take your pets with you when moving into a bed bug-free home, it’s best to bathe them first. You should also make sure that any beds, crates, and toys that will be coming with your pet are also free of the bugs before moving them.

Final Thoughts

Bed bugs are one of the worst pests that you can have in a home since they are so tiny and hard to find, and are almost impossible to get rid of. Of course, with the proper time and effort, you can eliminate these nasty little critters. You do need to clean everything well and use the proper sprays, foggers, and steamers to kill the ones in a home, even if it has no inhabitants. So, if you’ve ever wondered how long can bed bugs live in an empty house, as long as they have no blood to drink or the temperature is either very cold or extremely hot, you could be rid of them in a few months at the most.

References

1.
Bedbugs - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Bedbugs are small, reddish-brown blood-sucking, wingless insects. Bedbug bites usually clear up without treatment in a week or two. Bedbugs aren’t known to spread disease, but they can cause an allergic reaction or a severe skin reaction in some people.
2.
Bed bugs
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) were almost completely removed from North America due to mass treatments with highly toxic insecticides that are no longer in use.
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