We’ve learned a lot about bed bugs over the years. We know now that these pests have been around, in one form or another, for over 100 million years. The fossilized remains of bed bugs have been found in archaeological digs around the world. They’ve even been mentioned in texts dating back to ancient Egypt and Classical Rome. Turns out our ancestors didn’t like them any more than we do.
But with all we’ve learned about bed bugs there are still some basic misconceptions that could use some clearing up. Let’s start with one of the most common questions about bed bug behavior. Specifically, when do these blood-suckers come out to feed…
Are Bed Bugs Nocturnal?
One of the most common misconceptions about bed bugs is that they are nocturnal creatures. It’s an understandable mistake. After all, over the years we’ve all come to associate bed bugs with – well -beds. We think of them as predators that only attack when we are sleeping. And, since the majority of us are safely tucked up in our beds at night we naturally assume that these pests are nocturnal.
But they’re not, they are simply being opportunistic. Bed bugs come out to feed at night because it’s the safest time to do so. Peak feeding activity is typically around 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., when most of us are fast asleep. Because we’re inactive and mostly stationary bed bugs have ample opportunity to feed in safety and return to their hiding places without us (their victims) catching them in the act.
So bed bugs aren’t nocturnal by nature. It’s just that the night time is usually the right time for them to go on the prowl.
Will Bed Bugs Hunt by Day?
While the night time may be the most common time for bed bugs to feed, it’s by no means the only time. Since bed bugs are not truly nocturnal they’ll come out to feed whenever they feel it’s safe enough to do so.
For example, if you come home from work in the afternoon and lay down on the sofa for a nap a hungry bed bug is going to see you as a prime target. You’re asleep and unlikely to notice a little bed bug crawling along the cushions. The house is quiet. You’re inactive. And a hungry bed bug is going to take the opportunity to strike.
In the final analysis, day or night, if the bed bug thinks it can safely come out to hunt it will do so – happily and hungrily.
Do Bed Bugs Avoid the Light?
The bed bug’s primary defense is subterfuge. They survive by keeping out of sight. They tend to prefer hiding in dark out of the way spaces. Now, this won’t stop them from coming out to feed when they need a blood meal. They may prefer to hide in the dark but food trumps safety every time.
So, if you work the night shift and sleep by day bed bugs will still come out to feed. The same holds true if you leave the lights on at night. While these pests may prefer the dark they will happily adapt when necessary. Eventually their hunger will force them out into the open. And once they learn your habits they will become bold enough to venture forth whether the lights are on or not. As long as they can find an unsuspecting, and preferably sleeping, victim they will come out to feed.
How Long do Bed Bugs Come Out to Feed?
The bed bug’s survival depends upon being able to come to feed and returning to their hiding place as quickly as possible. They typically won’t spend much time feeding. Once they have spotted a potential host they will make a beeline for their victim and complete their meal as quickly as possible.
In most cases a bed bug will need to bite their host several times in the course of a blood meal. This accounts for the so-called rash that appears on victims. A cluster of bed bug bites, often in a line, is the result of multiple bites. The whole process takes little more than 10 minutes. After which the bed bug will return go back into hiding.
It’s worth noting here that bed bugs don’t feed en masse. The entire colony won’t come out to feed in a frenzy. Individual bed bugs will venture forth from the colony to feed as needed, with each one taking it in turns to go out to eat. Feeding times will be staggered to make it harder for the host to realize what is happening.
How Long do Bed Bugs Stick Around?
Once bed bugs have invaded a home they’re in for the long haul. They aren’t going to relocate on their own. They will continue to feed, and breed, until they are forcibly removed. Once you begin to notice the signs of bed bug activity in your home it is important to take immediate action. Bed bug removal can be a difficult process, and the sooner you get the ball rolling the better off you’ll be.
If you think you may have bed bugs the time to act is now. The longer you delay the larger the infestation will become.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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