Having bed bugs in your home can be a source of stress and irritation for you. Aside from the usual methods of eradication, some people may be curious about possibly taking in animals or insects that are natural predators of the bed bug. But keep in mind that some of the bed bug’s predators can be quite menacing themselves.
In this article we will discuss the animals and insects that eat bed bugs in the wild or in your home.
Before we look at more exotic predators, lets us first consider the only other animals most households contain, cats and dogs.
Cats are natural-born hunters, and while they do enjoy stalking and hunting some insects, bed bugs are not one one of them. Bed bugs are too small and usually cannot attract a cat’s attention.
Dogs are better equipped with noses that can locate bed bugs. They may try to eat the bed bugs, but do not worry, because bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases that can be transferred to dogs.
Geckos and lizards can find bed bugs quickly, kill, and eat them. If you have a small bed bug infestation, they may be able to significantly affect the bed bug population. Some geckos require special living conditions because their natural habitats are specific. Lizards have a long list of different types of insects that they eat. They will pretty much eat any insect they find crawling across your bed. Geckos are generally harmless to humans and some are even kept as pets.
Multiple species of spider eat bed bugs. The species Thanatus flavidus is notorious for hunting bed bugs. They spin webs that can trap bed bugs and give them no chance to escape. They like to set their webs in bedrooms increasing their chances for capturing bed bugs.
The downside to these spiders as bed bug control is that they do not eat nearly enough bed bugs to be able to control the population. Some people also have arachnophobia and may not be able to sleep even more with both bed bugs and spiders in their room.
The masked hunter is an insect that is part of the assassin bug family. They live in dry and warm places, people’s houses being an ideal place for them. They are gray or brown in color. They have wings and are able to fly.
They are also called bed bug hunters because of their affinity to capturing bed bugs.
The fact that bed bugs are their favorite victims is a point in their favor, but some subspecies of the masked hunter carry diseases that may be transmissible to humans. Masked hunters bite humans when they feel threatened and sometimes even while you are asleep. The masked hunter’s bite is painful and even comparable to that of a snake.
Cockroaches may seem like they have absolutely no redeeming qualities, but the fact that they eat bed bugs may be one of them. This one positive is not enough to upend all of the negative traits cockroaches have. They are unsanitary and will bring a multitude of diseases into your home. This is because they live and breed in the dirtiest places in and outside your home. They can crawl through sewers and reach your kitchen, where they will walk all over your food.
They are not a good method for eradicating bed bugs because bed bugs breed too quickly for the cockroaches to be able to eat them all. Cockroaches live in kitchens and bathrooms, while bed bugs live in the bedroom. This fact also lessens the possibility of the two insects’ paths crossing.
These ants can also infest your home. They are honey or golden-brown colored and about two millimeters long. They are very skilled at getting into your food especially if your food has not been properly stored. They can spread diseases such as typhoid fever and dysentery just by coming into physical contact with your food. Their preferred foods are fats and sugar, but they will eat whatever they need to to survive, including bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
The ant queen breeds very quickly and will lay around 400 eggs in her lifetime.
These ants cannot survive in the cold but thrive in warm, humid weather.
Pharaoh ants are not effective in controlling your house’s bed bug population because they can infest your house themselves. They can also be difficult to exterminate.
These insects actually only have 30 legs instead of a hundred, which their name suggests. They are efficient bed bug predators. Having plenty of centipedes in your home is not ideal because they are annoying and they are also known to bite and attack humans. The quick reproduction of bed bugs is also too much for even a dozen centipedes to control.
These insects are also called kissing bugs, another species of the assassin bug family. Like the masked hunter, they also like to feed on assassin bugs. Unfortunately, these insects are even worse to be around than bed bugs.
They can bite you on your face while you sleep at night. They can give you Chagas disease through their bites if they have previously fed on infected animals. Their bites can also cause severe allergic reactions and even anaphylactic shock in those who are susceptible.
Can these bed bug predators get rid of your bed bug infestation?
No, it may seem logical to biologically control bed bugs through these animals and insects, but it is not feasible. Some of these creatures can cause their own infestations when uncontrolled. They can become even harder to get rid of than bed bugs. Some of them have bites that hurt more than bed bugs and can cause even more pain and damage. If you get goosebumps thinking about bed bugs crawling all over you, you might not like the thought of any of these other insects walking on your skin either.
Animals that can possibly eat or kill bed bugs are your cats, dogs, and geckos. Insects that feed on bed bugs include spiders, cockroaches, masked hunters, pharaoh ants, centipedes, and cone-nosed insects. These creatures only eat one or two bed bugs in a day. They may help in ridding your house of a handful of bed bugs, but they are definitely not a concrete or effective method for completely eradicating bed bugs. Some of these insects bring with them their own sets of problems and you are better off having none of them in your house.
The best way to remove the bed bugs from your home is a still professional or tested and proven bed bug eradication method.
Image: istockphoto.com / Suman Ghosh