One of the bed bug’s most frustrating characteristics is its elusive nature. While the signs of a bed bug infestation may be plain to see (if you know where to look, that is), the insects themselves can often be difficult to spot.
Bed bugs are adept at hiding, and you might easily find yourself struggling with a full-scale infestation and never actually see one of these blood-sucking parasites in action. But we can change all that. Let’s talk a little about the activity of the bed bug, with a highlight on when and where they come out to play.
Are Bed Bugs Nocturnal?
We tend to think of bed bugs as being nocturnal, but that’s not entirely true. While it is unusual to see bed bugs during the day that doesn’t mean that they only come out at night – far from it.
Bed bugs are opportunistic creatures, and they are always in search of an easy meal. The reason bed bugs are predominantly active at night is simply because that is when their food supply (us) is more often than not asleep and unaware of their activities.
Bed bugs depend on their host being inactive in order to feed, and a sleeping target is an easy target. But it’s not the time of day that drives the bed bug. It’s the availability and activity of their hosts. Change your sleeping schedule and any bed bugs in your home will alter their feeding times.
So Bed Bugs Come Out During the Day, Right?
Well, yes and no. While bed bugs are not truly nocturnal they do tend to prefer the nighttime for their normal activities. In most cases bed bugs will hide during the day, only coming out to feed if circumstances are ideal.
It’s not unlike our own eating patterns. If you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, and there’s no one around to scold you, you’ll happily pad out to the kitchen to raid the fridge of that left over fried chicken. Bed bugs are much the same. Day or night, if there’s no one around to inhibit their activities, they’ll happily venture out for a feeding.
Do Bed Bugs Avoid the Light?
Hiding out during your active hours is how bed bugs manage to avoid being spotted by their hosts. That’s why they tend to prefer dark and shadowy spaces. They will hide in skirting boards, under carpet edges, and in mattresses to avoid being found and exterminated. But they are hiding from humans, not from the light.
Above all else bed bugs are on the hunt for food, and if a meal is available they will come out to feed regardless of the presence of light. For example, night shift workers are just as vulnerable to bed bugs as anyone else. They may be ‘day sleepers’, but when they crawl into bed in the afternoon bed bugs are more than happy to venture forth for a quick snack.
It’s true that more often than not bed bugs will try to avoid the light, but that is learned behavior – not instinct. When necessary bed bugs will happily venture forth into the light.
How Long Does it Take a Bed Bug to Feed?
Day or night, light or dark, bed bugs live to feed and a meal doesn’t take long to complete. Once they’ve found a suitable host, and a suitable spot to feed, they tend not to waste any time. They get in, bite the host and feed on their blood, and then scurry back into hiding as quickly as possible. At most the whole process can take less than 10 minutes, with the host none the wiser throughout the whole procedure.
This is not to suggest that there is a 10-minute window during which bed bugs feed. This is just the time it takes a single bed bug to feed. Feeding times will be staggered throughout the colony, with every bed bug venturing forth on its own schedule. So different bed bugs will come out to feed at different times, as well as in different locations.
You may fall asleep on the couch and be bitten by a number of bed bugs, only to discover the bites later and assume the attack happened in the bedroom. That is why it is so important to bring in a professional bed bug inspector when you suspect you might have a bed bug invasion. You need to root out the colonies in all parts of the home to fully eradicate an infestation.
How Long Does a Bed Bug Infestation Last?
Once bed bugs have become established in a home they are in for the long haul. There’s no point trying to wait them out. They’re not going anywhere without a fight. That means calling in a professional bed bug inspection and removal service as soon as possible. The quicker you take action the sooner you can eliminate the problem and return to safe and serene home life – free from hungry bed bugs and their even hungrier babies.