How Often Do Bed Bugs Feed?

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.