Can Bed Bugs Live In Water?

Can Bed Bugs Live In Water?

No, bed bugs cannot live in water, especially for extended periods of time. Bed bugs live in dry, warm, enclosed, safe places such as under your mattress, box spring, and bedframe. Bed bugs can survive for a few hours floating on cold water, but if they are left for longer, they will eventually drown.

Hot water, 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, will kill the bed bug, so their chances of surviving in water is also dependent on the water’s temperature.

Can bed bugs swim in water?

No, bed bugs cannot swim in water. If you place a bed bug in water they will drown. If a bed bug gets itself into water, it is light enough to float on the surface. Unfortunately, bed bugs do not have the physical capabilities to propel themselves through the water and onto a ledge. This is because of the shape of their bodies.

Insects that have longer legs will use the water’s surface tension to lift themselves above the water. This will allow them to breathe without struggling. Bed bugs have short legs which cannot lift their bodies off of the water’s surface.

Bed bugs breathe through pores on their body. They do not have lungs the same way other animals do. The air travels through these pores and then circulates through their body.

If a bed bug is on the water’s surface, the pores on their body are blocked by the water making them unable to breathe. The bed bug’s inability to remove themselves from the water as well as being unable to breathe will cause them to die.

Why are bed bugs unable to swim?

The reason bed bugs cannot swim is because they have not adapted to do so. Compared to other insects that have legs that allow them to walk over the water’s surface, bed bugs have not needed to adapt to living on water. Some bugs, despite not normally being around water, are still more capable around water than bed bugs. Bees, flies, or wasps can find themselves on water, but they can maneuver until they reach a place to hoist themselves up on to escape.

Bed bug ancestors lived in caves and fed on bats. They never encountered water so they never needed to evolve to living around it. Just like modern bed bugs, their ancestors fed on their hosts for a few minutes and then hid in the cracks while digesting their blood meal.

Modern bed bugs live inside dwellings because they know that that is where their main food source is. They almost never leave the indoors unless they are brought out accidentally for whatever reason. Because of this preference, modern bed bugs are very rarely exposed to water. They do not have the natural instincts needed to survive around water.

Can bed bugs survive in water?

In a short amount of time, yes, bed bugs are able to survive in water. It also helps their chances if they are floating on the water as opposed to sinking. 

When you wash your infested clothes, the bed bugs are drowning in the water as it goes through a one hour cycle. This is why it is advised to wash your clothes in a washing machine if you have an infestation. The constant agitation almost ensures that the bed bugs will not have a chance to stay on the surface and have access to air. If a bed bug is floating on the surface, they have access to air and may be able to survive.

A study showed that soaking infested linen in cold water without soap resulted in all of the baby bed bugs, or nymphs, and adult bed bugs getting killed. Interestingly, all of the bed bug eggs survived.

Bed bugs that do float when placed in water are the ones that have not taken a blood meal yet. This makes their bodies light, and due to their body shape, they can lay flat on the water’s surface and keep from sinking.

Even though bed bugs can float, their survivability also depends on the temperature of the water they are currently on. If the water is cold, the bed bugs have a higher chance of surviving, but if the water is hot, they usually do not stand a chance.

How long can bed bugs survive in water?

If a bed bug can float on the water, it allows them to survive. But if they start to sink, that is when they start counting down the time until they die.

As mentioned above, bed bug eggs are able to survive being submerged in water for over 24 hours. Some adult bed bugs are able to survive being submerged in water for a few hours as long as the water is cold. So, washing infested clothes in cold water may not kill the bed bugs.

To be sure, washing your clothes in hot water will kill the bugs both below or on the water’s surface. Bed bugs cannot handle their bodies being exposed to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This is true for adult bed bugs, nymphs, and bed bug eggs.

How do I kill bed bugs with water?

The best way to kill bed bugs using water is to place your infested clothes and linen into the washing machine. Put all the laundry through a hot wash cycle with detergent for at least 30 minutes. The water, soap, and temperature should be enough to kill most, if not all, of the bed bugs and their eggs. To be absolutely sure the bed bugs are all dead, place the laundry into your dryer for 30 minutes at the highest temperature setting. Any bed bugs and eggs that survived the wash are surely going to die in the dryer.


No, bed bugs are not designed to live on or anywhere near water. Bed bugs like to live in the dry, warm, secluded areas of your room where they are always close to their favorite human host.

A bed bug can possibly survive for a few hours if they accidentally drop into water, but eventually they will sink and drown. They do not have the natural instincts to survive in water unlike other insects.

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