Do Bed Bugs Eat Each Other?

Do Bed Bugs Eat Each Other

No, bed bugs do not eat other bed bugs. The only source of food bed bugs have is blood, specifically the blood of warm-blooded mammals. Bed bugs have evolved to prefer human blood, but if they are in a situation where there are no human hosts around, they will feed on a dog, cat, and even a rat.

Bed bugs do not have the mouth parts necessary, like teeth and jaws, to bite and chew through anything solid, much less another bed bug. Bed bugs only have a straw-like beak similar to a mosquito’s that is only strong enough to pierce through skin-like membranes. So, even if they wanted to feed on each other, they would not be able to.

What are the parts of a bed bug’s mouth?

Bed bugs do not have the typical insect mouth like roaches, termites, and grasshoppers. Those insects have mouth parts that allow them to bite and chew through wood or any solid food. Bed bugs only have a straw-like beak at the tip of its head. There is a short tube and a longer tube. The shorter beak is the one that pierces through the skin, while the longer beak is then inserted further into the hole through the skin until it reaches a blood vessel.

Bed bugs do not have lips, teeth, tongues, or jaws to aid in the biting and chewing of solid food.

How does a bed bug eat?

A bed bug eats by first searching for their host. They will trace their human host by following our warm body, the carbon dioxide we exhale, and the pheromones in our sweat. When they have crawled their way towards us, they will search for a part of our body that is not covered by clothing, such as our legs, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and face.

The bed bug will then pierce the skin with their short beak, releasing along with is their saliva with anesthetic properties. This allows the bed bug to feed without alarming their host. Next, they will insert the longer beak into the pierced skin and begin searching for a blood vessel. Once it finds a blood vessel it will start feeding. Bed bug saliva also has anticoagulant properties that keep the blood in the area they are drinking from from clotting, allowing them to feed continuously. When they are full, they will pull out their beak and make their way back to their hiding place. The anesthetic saliva will stop working long after the bed bug has returned to safety.

How many times a week does a bed bug feed?

A bed bug eats every five to ten days, so they will feed around once every week. If there are no hosts around, the bed bug will be able to survive without feeding for up to one year. Bed bugs retain moisture well making them survive off of one meal for months on end.

Once a bed bug egg hatches, the nymph will feed immediately. It will need to feed before moving on to the next nymphal stage.  After going through all five nymphal  stages, it will become a sexually mature adult bed bug. A female bed bug will need to feed regularly in order to produce viable eggs, while a male bed bug will also need to feed regularly in order to produce viable sperm. The pregnant female  will need to feed constantly for her to be able to lay her eggs.

During  the summer months, bed bugs feed more frequently because the heat aids in their digestion. This also means that they grow and mature quicker compared to colder months. Bed bugs in warmer climates can feed as often as every two to three days. The inverse is also true because bed bugs in cooler climates are fine feeding only once a month.

Do bed bugs eat each other?

No, bed bugs do not eat each other. First, it does not do a bug population any good if they start cannibalising each other because the point of an infestation is to increase their population so they have the most number of potential mating partners as possible. If they start eating each other, their species will die out.

If you think that they might feed on each other’s blood, you would be wrong. Blood that has been ingested by a bed bug turns into hemolpymh. Hemolpymh lacks the nutrients that bed bugs crave from like hemoglobin, so they would not like the blood from fellow bed bugs even if they tried to feed on them.

Do bed bugs eat food crumbs?

No, as mentioned above, bed bugs do not have the proper anatomical mouth parts to eat anything solid. They have neither teeth or jaws to bite and chew through food. All of the nutrients a bed bug needs in each life stage they can get from mammal blood. Nothing in food can replace what they are able to get from blood.

Why do bed bugs only eat blood?

The ancestors of bed bugs are bat bugs. Bat bugs look very similar to bed bugs except that they feed on bats. They lived in caves, and just like bed bugs, they only climbed onto bats to feed and would immediately go back into hiding after.

When humans began living inside caves, the bed bugs probably fell from the ceilings of the caves and decided to give human blood a try. Over time they realized that humans are much easier and better to feed on the bats. These bugs would go on to become the bed bugs we know today. Since they have had no need to evolve past drinking human blood, modern bed bugs are still doing what their ancestors did.


No, bed bugs do not eat each other because they do not have the mouth parts needed to consume solid food. They do not have teeth or jaws, instead they have a straw-like beak that they use to pierce through the skin to drink blood.

Bed bugs get all of their necessary nutrients from blood, so they do not need to seek other food sources for nourishment.

Bed bugs would not be able to feed on solid food even if they wanted to.

Image: / Matteo Lanciano