Yes, bed bugs can come back after six months because these insects are incredibly resilient. Even if only one bed bug was able to survive the treatment method that you thought killed all the bed bugs, the infestation can restart in a few days.
You might think that moving out of an infested house for a few months is enough to starve and kill all of the bed bugs in a house, but bed bugs can actually live up to a year without feeding. So, they could just be waiting for you to return to the house so they can feed and hopefully restart an infestation.
Why are bed bugs so hard to get rid of?
Bed bugs have become resilient, and even immune, to some of the toughest treatment methods. Most DIY treatment methods can only kill the bed bugs that you can easily find, while leaving the ones that are hidden in the dark corners of your house to survive and thrive. Some products you could be using may be effective against adult bed bugs but are not effective against bed bug eggs. Bed bug nymphs can survive eradication attempts because they are experts at hiding and keeping safe so they can very easily continue an infestation if they want to.
It is still advisable to hire a professional pest control service to inspect and treat your home no matter how expensive it might be. It will all have been worth it when you realize how stress-free it is to no longer worry about bed bugs.
Why do bed bugs keep coming back?
The main reason why bed bugs keep coming back is that they are never entirely eradicated in the first place. Even a single surviving bug or egg can reignite an infestation cycle again.
Bed bug biology makes them difficult to detect. They are also efficient in reproduction and are resilient to most treatments.
Eliminating bed bugs is a difficult undertaking and often requires multiple treatment methods and attempts.
1. Rapid reproduction
Bed bugs may not reproduce quite as fast as flies, but they are notorious for producing healthy and viable eggs almost 100% of the time. So even if they only lay five eggs a day, all those eggs will become adults in a few weeks, who then themselves start laying eggs.
2. A female bed bug will lay between 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime.
Bed bug infestations are only detected when it has already gone past its early stages. This is a testament to how well these bugs hide from people to keep safe.
To achieve full extermination, every single egg, nymph, and adult bug needs to be killed. This is difficult to achieve even by professionals with decades of experience.
3. Can live anywhere in your home
Compared to other bloodsucking insects that always need to be attached to their host like fleas and lice, bed bugs do not need to live on their host’s body. Apart from when they feed, bed bugs prefer to stay away from humans. They only need to make contact with people once a week for a blood meal. Bed bugs can live on any surface of any piece of furniture or object in your room, as long as it is still close to the bed where their human host sleeps. When they are not feeding, they are usually in their harborage, hiding away and digesting their latest blood meal.
4. Resistance and ability to survive for months without feeding
Bed bugs are known to survive for over a year without feeding. If there are no human hosts nearby, they will not think twice about drinking blood from any warm-blooded animal. In room temperature, bed bugs can live without food for up to three months, but in a lab controlled setting with cooler temperature they can live past one year.
Over the years, bed bugs have developed strains that are seemingly resistant to pesticides. This can complicate a chemical treatment method for curbing infestations, and give the pests a chance to come back stronger because they were never killed in the first place.
Bed bug eggs have a different kind of resiliency compared to adult bed bugs. So even if the entire adult population of bed bugs are killed, the eggs can still hatch and bring on a new generation.
5. Incomplete elimination
To call an eradication a success, all the eggs, nymphs, and adult bugs have to be found and killed. This is difficult due to the size of the bugs, their thousands of hiding spots, undetectable early stages, their population in the thousands, their ability to survive without feeding, and their resistance to chemical pesticides.
How will I know if all the bed bugs are gone?
Unfortunately, there is no concrete tell-tale sign that will inform you that all the bed bugs have been killed. The best you can do is to watch out for signs of re-infestation by being observant. Once you think you have killed all the bugs, you should do a deep clean of your entire house. If you need to hire professional cleaners, it will have been worth it in the long run.
What are the chances of bed bugs coming back?
There is no clear answer as to how likely your case is for a reinfestation, but there are factors that can give you an idea.
If you have a large house, you are more likely to have missed some bugs and eggs during inspection and treatment.
If your house is messy and cluttered, this gives bed bugs more places to hide in, that is why it is important to be organized.
The treatment method you chose to kill the bugs is also another factor. Using contact-only chemical pesticides or diatomaceous earth is not as effective as professional heat treatment.
Yes, bed bugs can come back after six months. The factors that can encourage re-infestation are bed bugs’ innate ability to survive up to a year without feeding, their ability to produce viable eggs, the fact that they can live on multiple areas around your home, and if the initial treatment method you had done left some bed bugs alive.
There is no way to tell whether a complete eradication was achieved, so you still need to be on the lookout for signs of infestation even if you think all the bugs were killed. The key is to catch it in the early stages so it will be easier to manage.
Image: istockphoto.com / Matteo Lanciano