How Often Do Bed Bugs Feed?

How Often Do Bed Bugs Feed

Bed bugs feed every five to ten days. Bed bugs feed on the blood of both the people and animals in the household. They will have to feed between each of the five nymphal stages as they make their way toward full maturity so they can begin producing eggs. So, as long as food is readily available, bed bugs will feed approximately once every week.

If you want to learn more about the feeding habits of the bed bug, keep on reading.

What is a bed bug’s life cycle?

Bed bugs complete their life cycle by going through three distinct life stages. These stages are the egg, nymph, and adult stages. Bed bugs must take a blood meal in order to molt from one nymphal stage to another. They have five nymphal stages. Once they become adults, the females will need to feed to produce viable eggs. The usual time needed for a bid bug to complete its life cycle is around four to five weeks at room temperature. The female can lay at least 120 eggs during its lifetime.

How often do bed bugs feed?

In perfect lab conditions, with the ideal temperature, humidity, and other conditions, bed bugs can go without feeding up to 400 days. Bed bugs can only survive three to five months without feeding in room temperature and relative humidity, but may live longer in cooler climates.

In a typical household, adult bed bugs and nymphs feed about once a week. Because of this frequency in feeding, they assumedly spend most of their time digesting the meal and not actively searching and feeding. The nymphs feed five times before developing into an adult bed bug.

Also, because bed bugs are indoor pests, they are not subjected to the harsh elements other insects experience in the outdoors. Their feeding requirements are hardly affected, as long as they have a host nearby.

How do bed bugs feed from people?

Bed bugs do not actually bite people, because they do not have teeth. They have a beak that is similar to that of a mosquito’s. The beak will pierce your skin, but because the bed bug’s saliva has numbing properties, you will not feel it.

The bed bug feed’s almost always at night while their host is sleeping. The meal lasts between three to ten minutes. The bed bug may pierce the skin several times in a single feeding in order to get enough blood. They usually do this is a series of bites in a cluster or a signature zig zag pattern.

During what time of day do bed bugs feed?

Even though bed bugs usually feed at night when their host is asleep, people who have had infestations claim that that is not always the case. Bed bugs can feed on you even while you are awake on the couch, watching television, and you might not even notice it.

As long as their host is in a calm, unmoving state, that is good enough for these pests to start feeding. 

Since the bites are so small, you will hardly be able to feel them, so the bugs can attach themselves, feed, then make their way back to their shelter.

Despite being able to feed at any time of day, the majority of bed bug bites still happen at night. This is especially true if you are active and busy during the day and sleep only at night. On a brighter note, bed bugs are not known to carry any communicable diseases that they can transfer through their bites.

Is a bed bug painful?

The exact moment a bed bug is biting you, you will not feel anything, because their bites are not painful. This is the reason why so many people are unable to detect a bed bug infestation in its early stages.

The bed bug bite will only start to itch after one to two weeks, depending on the individual. While some people can feel the itch after one week, others will not feel anything and will only start to suspect because they see the bites. Bed bug bites take a bit of time to start developing into tiny red spots on your skin that can spread anywhere, depending on the area you were bitten.

Bed bugs can bite you on any part of your body and very seldom will they have a favorite spot to bite. Mosquitoes will typically bite you on your ankles, joints, or wrists, while they do not typically bite your face, head, or trunk.

Bed bugs are fine with whichever part of your body is the closest to the bed. These parts are usually your arms, shoulders,  and stomach. But if your face touches the bed, they can go for your cheeks, forehead, or nose.

Why do bed bugs not feed frequently?

Bed bugs do not feed frequently because they do not need to. They will only really need to feed when they have to mature onto the next life stage, mating, and laying eggs.

Because there are five nymphal stages, the bed bug has to have at least five meals to become an adult. When they become adults, the male bed bug feeds to be able to impregnate the female, while the female also feeds in order to produce viable eggs.

As mentioned above, bed bugs need four to five weeks to reach full maturity while feeding once a week.

Do female bugs feed more frequently than male bugs?

There is no concrete scientific proof that one sex of bed bugs feeds more frequently than the other. What is true, though, is that they equally need blood. Even though, male bugs do not give birth, they still need to feed in order to impregnate the female.

Female bed bugs cannot give birth without the nutrients from blood, which is the case for any living being. If a pregnant bug does not drink enough blood, the egg quality will not be optimal and the new bed bugs will not be healthy.


Bed bugs will feed every five to ten days, or approximately once a week, as long as their host is nearby. A bed bug can survive up to 400 days without feeding in a controlled environment, and up to five months in room temperature. Male bed bugs need to feed to be able to impregnate a female, while female bugs need to feed for their eggs to be viable.

Image: / John-Reynolds