How Often Do Bed Bugs Feed?

bed bug after feeding picture
It is common knowledge that bed bugs typically feed at night. Just like many other insects, the frequency of bed bugs feeding depends upon a number of factors such as:

  • Host availability
  • Population size
  • Conditions within the structure they occupy

Another important consideration about bed bug feeding is to realize that bed bugs do not feed on a predictable schedule; however, they feed when in need of a blood meal and there is an available host nearby.

After feeding, bed bugs return to their hidden harborages until they need to feed again.

Bed Bug Life Cycle:

  • Bed bugs complete their life cycle by going through three distinct life stages – egg, nymph and adult.
  • Bed bugs must take a blood meal in order to molt from one nymphal stage to another (they have five nymphal stages).
  • Adult females need to feed in order to produce viable eggs.
  • The typical time needed to complete the bed bugs life cycle is about four to five weeks at room temperature.
  • A female bed bug female can lay about 120 eggs or more during her lifetime.

Other Information:

  • Bed bugs can go without feeding for 20 to 400 days, depending on temperature humidity and other environmental conditions.
  • Bed bug adults can only survive about three to five months without a blood meal if they occupy an environment that resembles normal room temperature and relative humidity. In cooler environments, they may live longer.
  • In an environment that resembles a typical central air heated and cooled house or apartment, male and female adults and the respective stage of nymphs usually feed about once every week.
  • Bed bug nymphs feed at least five times before becoming adults. Under ideal conditions, it can take less than two months to develop into an adult.
  • Since nymph and adult bed bugs feed only about once per week, the majority of the bed bug population is digesting a blood meal, not actively looking to take another blood meal.
  • Since bed bugs are a domestic, indoor dwelling pest, they do not experience the temperature extremes that affect insects that live outdoors, thus impacting their feeding requirements.
  • Bed bug females likely are laying eggs at different times, thus causing time variations for when bed bug eggs hatch.