Can Bed Bugs Live Outside?

Can Bed Bugs Live Outside?

The short answer: YES. 

Common bed bugs can live outside. But it’s unlikely.

These bugs feed on human blood and generally live close to areas where we frequent.

They also avoid being in areas exposed to air movement. 

As such, they are most common on mattresses, box springs, headboards, nightstands, pillows.

There are bed bug species that are more likely to stay outdoors. These types of bed bugs feed on warm blooded animals such as chickens, chimney swifts, swallows, and bats.

Another reason you won’t find common bed bugs outside is because they are photophobic, which means they avoid sunlight.

While bed bugs have poor vision, they can sense light pretty well. And if you shine a light on a bed bug, they will run and hide.

As such, their brains are hard-wired to prefer living indoors and avoid staying outdoors.

That said, they can live in the cracks and crevices in outdoor furniture such as chairs, pool beds, tents, upholstery, pet beds, and tables. 

If you generally sit on your outdoor furniture frequently and long enough, they could be ideal for bed bugs to take harborage.

Keep in mind, bed bugs can survive for up to three months without a blood meal.

And if it’s cold enough, they may even be able to slow down their metabolism and live up to a year without feeding.

As such, you don’t necessarily have to lay or sit on the bedbug-infested furniture as frequently as you lay on your bed for bed bugs to survive.

So, to answer the question. Yes. 

Bed bugs can thrive outdoors in specific circumstances. 

But, overall, they are rarely found outdoors and are most common in the bedroom.

Do bed bugs Live in Grass?

No. Bed bugs don’t live in grass.

Bed bugs generally live close to areas where their host frequent and stay for an extended period.

They also like being in crevices and folds where there is little air movement. 

While bed bugs have been reported crawling outdoors, it’s rare and typically only because they are trying to get indoors.

Keep in mind, bed bugs are photophobic. That means they will try to avoid sunlight as much as possible.

One occasion that you may see a bed bug on grass is if they’ve been transported there by a person.

Bed bugs are expert stowaways and would typically hitch a ride on people’s clothes and personal belongings.

It’s possible then that a person who stayed on a bedbug-infested place to carry bed bugs with them when they travel.

That said, bed bugs will not survive long on grass. To live, they need to feed on a host’s blood, whether that’s from a human or an animal.

So unless there’s a host that’s willing to lay on that area of grass consistently, the bed bugs will likely starve to death if they stay there.

Another reason bed bugs will live in grass is because they cannot jump and cling to a passing host to feed.

This mechanism is what ticks use to get their blood meal.

Unlike bed bugs, ticks can survive outdoors for more extended periods. They wait till a host to pass by and cling on them to feed.

But bed bugs are not equipped for this.

If you accidentally drop a bed bug on the grass, it would likely find a hiding place away from the sun and eventually die there.

Can Pets Bring Bed Bugs in from Outside?

No. Your pet will not bring bed bugs in your home.

Bed bugs are not equipped to cling onto hair.

While other blood-sucking insects such as lice and ticks are equipped with claws designed to climb through hair, bed bugs aren’t.

As such, they would generally avoid hair when they crawl on their host.

While it’s true that bed bugs will feed on animal blood such as dogs and cats, they would only do so if the pet is immobile.

That is why bed bugs live on mattresses. Bed bugs cannot cling on their host to feed.

If you see a bug in your pet, it’s more likely that it is a tick and not bed bugs. 

Unlike bed bugs, it’s quite common to find ticks outdoors. 

Ticks are known to stay in tall brushes,

wooden areas, leaf piles, along walls and fences. 

Also, ticks have evolved to be able to jump and attach themselves to a host passing by.

Can bed bugs come from neighbors?

Yes. Bed bugs are tiny, which allows them to freely move through wall voids, along utility lines, heating ducts, laundry, elevators, shafts, and mail chutes, and even crawl right under doors.

Because bed bugs can easily walk through walls, they are particularly hard to control in multiple-unit buildings. 

Since bed bugs can quickly enter cracks and crevices, bed bug infestation in one unit can easily spread to an entire building if left unchecked. 

Why do Bed Bugs Live Indoors?

Bed bugs live indoors for several reasons:

They are not very mobile.

Bed bugs survive by their ability to live near their host.

They hide in cracks, folds, and seams and do not emerge from their harborage until they are ready to feed.

They also cannot cling on to their host. Thus, they feed when their host is either sleeping or sitting down.

This survival instinct is very different from other blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes and ticks.

Mosquitoes feed by flying. Ticks are equipped with strong legs and claws that allow them to jump and cling on their host.

Since bed bugs can only thrive by being close to their host, they prefer to live and nest indoors.

They are photophobic

Bed bugs are also photophobic, which means they avoid sunlight.

While bed bugs have poor vision, they can sense light pretty well. And if you shine a light on a bed bug, they will run and hide.

As such, their brains are hard-wired to prefer living indoors and avoid staying outdoors.

Bed bugs need to feed

Juvenile bed bugs cannot develop or molt into an adult without having a blood meal. They go through five molts before becoming an adult.

As such, bed bugs must lay their eggs near their host for their population to survive and grow.

Adult bed bugs cannot survive longer than three months without a blood meal. 

If it’s cold enough, they may even be able to slow down their metabolism and live up to a year without feeding.

But they will still need to eat eventually.

Overall, indoors is the best place for bed bugs to live if to get consistent blood-meal from human hosts.

Intolerant to Hot Weather

Studies show that 10% of bed bugs die when exposed to temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours.

Overtime, high temperatures can slowly deteriorate a bed bug population. 

That said, bed bugs have a high cold tolerance. 

In fact, to even kill a bed but with cold you would need to keep them in 0 degree Fahrenheit temperatures for several days. 

If the freezing temperatures are not consistent the bed bugs can easily survive. 

When would bed bugs live outside?

Bed bugs are indoor pests. But, certain situations may cause them to live outside.

The first is bed bug treatments.

Bed bugs may seek shelter outside your home to get away from the heat or chemicals you apply in your home during a bed bug treatment.

They may hide anywhere with cracks and crevices such as outdoor structures, tables, pool beds, patio chairs, woodpiles, and upholstery.

Bed bugs may also live outside of your home if you have furniture you frequently sit on.

The primary reason these bugs cannot live outside is that they are relatively immobile. They cannot fly, run, or jump to feed.

As such, they need to live close to their host to feed. They also need their host to be immobile when they eat.

Since we spend most of our time resting on our bed and couch, this is where you’ll typically find bed bugs.

But, if you generally sit on your outdoor furniture for extended periods, they could be ideal for bed bugs to take harborage.

Keep in mind, bed bugs can survive for up to three months without a blood meal.

And if it’s cold enough, they may even be able to slow down their metabolism and live up to a year without feeding.

So, you don’t necessarily have to lay or sit on the bedbug-infested furniture as frequently as you lay on your bed for bed bugs to survive.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide Outdoors?

Bed bugs generally do not live outdoors.

But if they do, they will look for shelters with little exposure to the sun and air movement.

Some ideal places for bed bugs to hide are wooden structures, furniture, upholstery, and woodpiles.

Bed bugs also need to be near their host to eat.

As such, if they live outside, you’re most likely to find them in places where you stay for extended periods such as pool beds, patio chairs, tables, and alike.

How far can bed bugs travel outside?

Bed bugs cannot travel very far on their own. But they are expert stowaways and can move from one place to another by hitchhiking.

Bed bugs are relatively immobile compared to other insects. 

They can’t fly or jump but can crawl three to four feet per minute on most surfaces. 

That’s about 250 feet per hour.

Bed bugs or their eggs also travel by hitching a ride in or on furniture, luggage, clothing, and electronic devices.

Common items bed bugs can hitch on are:

  • Furniture
  • Luggage, purses, computer bags or briefcases
  • Clothing
  • Mirror or picture frames
  • Electronics like clocks, computers or cell phones
  • Carpet
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Curtains or drapes
  • Laundry baskets
  • Cardboard boxes

 

How Long Can They Survive Outdoors?

Bed bugs can survive outdoors for at least three months if predators do not eat them and are not under extreme weather temperatures.

Some factors that will affect the longevity are:

Food

 

Common bed bugs need to be close to their host to feed. That’s because unlike other insects, bed bugs are not equipped to travel far for food.

So unless there’s a consistent source of food nearby, bed bugs won’t last very long outside.

In general, bed bugs can survive for three months without feeding. In colder conditions, they can survive for up to a year.

Predators

Another factor affecting bed bugs’ chances of survival outdoors is their natural predators such as ants, lizards, and spiders.

Weather Conditions

Temperatures is another factor that determine if bed bugs can survive outdoors. 

Studies show that 10% of bed bugs die when exposed to temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours.

Overtime, high temperatures can slowly deteriorate a bed bug population. 

That said, bed bugs have a high cold tolerance. 

In fact, to even kill a bed but with cold you would need to keep them in 0 degree Fahrenheit temperatures for several days. 

If the freezing temperatures are not consistent the bed bugs can easily survive. 

FAQ

Can Bed Bugs Live In Your Car?

Yes. Bed bugs can live in cars.

Bed bugs typically get inside cars by hitchhiking a ride on objects that you bring inside your vehicle.

They can ride on your clothes, bags, used furniture, guests’ clothes, boxes, or early anything that they can hold onto.

Once they’re inside the car, they only need two things to survive: food and shelter.

Bed bugs need to be close to their host to eat.

And they only need to suck on blood for three to ten minutes to fill their stomach.

Since we sit on our cars for an extended period when we drive, bed bugs should have enough time to get their blood-meal.

Cars also have small cracks and crevices that provide bed bugs an ideal shelter.

Bed bugs will hide near the driver seat or in the back seat if you have children.

While you are driving, bed bugs will feed on you.

Bed bugs can survive without a host for up to 14 months.

This means that they don’t need to eat often to be able to survive in your car.

Do Bed Bugs Live In Wood Piles Outside?

Yes. But it’s highly unlikely.

Bed bugs can take shelter in the small cracks and crevices in wood piles.

However, because they will need to be near their host to feed, they will not survive that long if they stay there.

Woodpiles are more of a temporary shelter for bed bugs.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live When Put Outside In Black Trash Bags?

In general, bed bugs can survive for three months without feeding. In colder conditions, they can survive for up to a year.

As such, you wouldn’t want to wrap your bed bug-infested furniture or items on trash bags and leave them outside.

To prevent the spread of bed bugs, you must label your bags as bed-bug infested.

If you are looking for a hands-off approach to treating the bed bugs, you can seal them in bags or containers.

Note, however, that this method may not kill the bed bugs for at least a year.

As such, I recommend you keep the encasement on for at least 14 months.

Also, keep in mind that while trash bags are cheap and quick, they can rip.

If the bed bugs get out, then all the time you spent waiting is wasted, and you will need to find where the bed bugs are now hiding.

How to Prevent Inside and Outside Your Home?

Seal Voids On Your Wall

Bed bugs typically spread from room to room through crevices and voids.

This type of transfer is especially common in multi-unit building.

To prevent these bugs from entering your home, make sure to seal up all the holes and crevices on your walls, floors, doors, and windows.

Bed bugs are tiny and can get into the smallest cracks and crevices, so don’t skip any holes because they seem innocuous.

Keep Your House Clean And Tidy

Bed bugs love clutter. It provides them with the perfect shelter to hide and reproduce

Bed bugs can hide anywhere from dirty laundry, backpacks, lamps, books, electronics, etc.

The cleaner your house, the fewer places bed bugs can hide.

Being clean and organized makes it spot bed bugs as well as to get rid of them.

Change Your Linens

Changing your linens will help you identify bed bug infestation in its early stages

Examine Used Furniture

If you like to buy used or antique furniture, inspect them before taking them home.

Inspect the zippers, folds, and seams for signs of bed bugs such as casings, droppings, eggs, and live bugs.

Use Smooth Storage Bins

Get storage bins that’s made of smooth plastic or metal. This way bed bugs wont be able to crawl and infest anything in it. 

Traveling

When traveling, keep your luggage off the floor to prevent it from becoming infected.

Place all your clothes inside a sealed plastic bag.

Once home, make sure to wash your clothes on hot water.

Any clothes that need to be dry cleaned should be sent for service.

You can also put them in the dryer and run it on high heat for 30 minutes.

How to Treat Bed Bugs Inside and Outside Your Home?

There are several different ways you can treat bed bugs. 

Common treatments include:

  • Washing, Steaming and Vacuuming
  • Heat Treatment 
  • Mattress Encasement 
  • Fumigation 
  • Chemical Insecticide 

Washing, Steaming, and Vacuum Treatments

This treatment process involves washing all fabrics, sheet covers, and drapery where bed bugs are located. 

Items need to be washed on hot and dried on high temp to kill any bed bugs hiding inside. 

The second step is using a steamer on all major furniture where bed bugs are hiding. 

Steamers can reach temperatures up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit which can kill bed bugs instantly. 

 

Using the steamer to steam all major hiding places for bed bugs. 

The final step is to vacuum up all crevices, folds, and seams where bed bugs hide. 

This does two things: 

It picks up any dead bed bugs. 

Remove any remaining bed bugs that the steamer missed. 

Vacuuming is an excellent way of removing a large number of bed bugs, eggs, and shell skin quickly.

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Mattress Encasement

Mattress and box spring encasements can be a great way to control bed bugs.

Encasements create a barrier between you and the bed bugs living in your mattress.

They are great if you are looking for an inexpensive and quick solution for your bed bugs.

Encasements are also great to use if you do not want to dispose of heavily infested mattresses.

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Fumigation

Fumigation treatments release fumigant gas into bed bug-infested areas to control bed bugs in all life stages.

The great thing about fumigation is its ability to penetrate areas that are difficult to access, such as tiny folds, seams, and intricate fabric.

That said, fumigation requires extensive preparation.

You’ll need to vacate all living things in your home until all traces of the fumigant have dissipated.

Fumigation also requires professional assistance, which can be costly.

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Chemical Insecticide

When using insecticides, make sure to read and follow all label instructions.

Pay special attention to what type of furniture, surfaces, and materials is the insecticide safe to use.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how long it takes before re-application and follow accordingly. 

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Signs of Bed bug Infestation

Some of the most common signs of bed bug infestation are:

Live Bed bugs – Bed bugs are about the size of a grain of rice, oval, flat, and light brown to reddish-brown.

  • Bed Bug Eggs – Bed bugs are smaller than a grain of rice, white and are oval.
  • Dried Blood – Small specs of fresh blood will look like dark red dots around your couch.
  • Skin Casings – Bed bugs shed their skin to grow. The presence of these skin cases is a good sign of bed bug infestation.
  • Bed Bug Bites – Bed bug bites look like welts and do not have a red spot at the center, unlike other insect bites such as spiders and fleas.

 

Bed bugs tend to hide in groups or near each other. 

This is typically in undisturbed areas around your bedroom or other parts of your home. 

They tend to hide near their host to make feeding as easy as possible. 

This is why they tend to hide in seams, crevices, and folds in the fabric, furniture, and drapery.

The most common locations bed bugs hide are in bedrooms or where humans tend to spend a lot of time.

During the day look for bed bugs in the following locations:

  • Mattresses seams and folds
  • Underneath mattresses
  • Under box spring
  • On box spring seams and fold as well as inside box springs, especially on the wood.
  • On wood crevices on box spring
  • Bed covers
  • Pillow covers
  • Drapery and curtains
  • Small crevices or gaps on the bed frame
  • Dressers and nightstands
  • Other furniture near beds or couches
  • Lamps
  • Walls
  • Behind hanging pictures and other hanging items.
  • Holes or crevices on walls or floorboards.
  • Inside couches
  • On carpet
  • On chairs and other furniture
  • Window sills

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