Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are not your typical garden pests, as they don’t have any interest in plants and cause problems mostly indoors but, can bed bugs live outside?
Yes, the blood-munching pests can live outdoors undisturbed for some time in the right conditions. Read on to learn more about bed bugs and their living habits.
Getting to Know All About Bed Bugs
As the insect vermin feed exclusively on human blood, they will just wait for the opportunity to move indoors with you, probably hitchhiking on your clothing, on your bag of gardening tools you just fetched from the shed or on your shoes. This is not a common gardening problem but it could happen.
And if they miss their opportunistic chance to somehow “jump” in your bed and feast on you that very night, the bugs will have a go at feeding themselves on your blood next time you sit down in the garden.
Well, this doesn’t sound great, especially if you have kids, whose skin is far more sensitive than that of adults. On that note, bed bugs might not be that dangerous to people (they don’t transmit diseases), but they will leave you with unpleasant bite marks, bumps or even a serious allergic rash.
Well, to get to some sort of conclusion on the matter, it’s best if you learn more about the pests’ irrefutable survivalist skills for bed bugs can travel across the yard.
Also Read: Pet Friendly Bed Bug Traps
How do Bed Bugs Survive Outside the House?
Bed bugs are cold-blooded creatures that can adjust pretty “adeptly” to their immediate environment. Depending on the temperature outside, the vermin insects’ temperature can drop or rise and thus they can save energy, go without food or the opposite – become active and get ready to mate and breed in the warm weather months.
With this said, however, the minuscule crawlies will be always on the lookout for ways of finding more accommodating conditions that can provide them with harborage and an occasional blood meal.
If you’re using a lawn sweeper or a fertilizer unit it could act as as vessel for critters to easily relocate. To mow your lawn on a regular basis is great but you should always keep such risks in mind.
Why Bed Bugs “prefer” to Live Indoors?
The answer to this question is simple. Even when it’s nice and sunny outside, bed bugs will make tracks towards your house, only because you’re there. You will act as their host, providing them with the vital food they need to lay eggs or move from one larval stage to the next, five in total.
The mini vampire insects find their food source by detecting the heat and carbon dioxide, emitted from warm-blooded animals and people. So, in this sense, they wouldn’t go through all the effort of crawling from outside to an abandoned building (or even the house next door), regardless of what the weather’s like, as there’s nothing in for them.
How and When Bed Bugs End Up Living Outside?
Hmm, this is an interesting point to explore. Let’s clear one thing. As we’ve already mentioned, bed bugs will stay outdoors only as a temporary measure before they embark on a trip across your yard to get to some food.
They can travel from one townhouse to another townhouse (possibly, a recently vacated one), crawling their way relatively fast.
As long as the surface, they move on, is not hostile (glass, plastic, porcelain, PVC), they can cover great distances in relation to their 4-millimetre size and do that in a short period of time. Bed bugs can end up living outdoors after a pest control treatment.
“Those, which have survived an insecticidal application (less chance of this happening after a heat treatment), will rush outside for a breath of fresh air.” said Alexander Crawley, an entomology consultant for the Australian-based Fantastic Pest Control.
“Another way of getting a bed bugs colony outdoors is through your exciting travels or a visit by a dear and none-the-wiser guest. The blood-sucking crawlies just sense the delicious host and will trip over to get a hitch on their luggage or clothing.” added the Fantastic Pest Control expert.
“And on that note, you don’t need to go far away to an exotic country or stay in a grotty, cheap hotel room, in order to unknowingly end up carrying the little squatters. No, you can just go to your local movie theatre one night and wake up all bitten by the critters.”.
Last but not least, you can bring bed bugs inside or outside your property by getting a second-hand piece of furniture, be it a swivel chair for your home office, a quirky-looking garden sofa or even an used foosball table.
How Long Can Bed Bugs Survive Outdoors?
There have been plenty of research and experiments done in labs across the globe to test bed bugs’ survival abilities and investigate their behaviour.
From freezing them and starving them to applying extreme heat, scientists have established the type of conditions the pest insects cannot tolerate before they eventually succumb to their maker.
Unfortunately, bed bugs can survive up to 5 months outside and with no food.
So, How Does Temperature Matter for Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs love hot and humid conditions to breed and go about their business (run backwards and forwards to their food supplier).
But if the weather turns in and catches them unprepared outdoors, they’ll just snuggle deeper into crevices and small hidden places in exterior wooden structures, garden furniture or even in your parked car.
Or in other words, these pests won’t die. Bedbugs’ body temperature will also drop along with the plummeting temperatures outside. This helps them survive for a very long time until they can find a better-suited harbourage.
Still, extremities, in terms of heat and cold, will, of course, kill them. But we’re talking about minus 17°C and above 48°C, which is difficult to reach without the help of a man-made device, such as a heat treatment machine or a commercial deep freezer.
So, you can guess that bed bugs can withstand the outdoor conditions of most climate zones. What you probably didn’t know is that they can do this for months, even up to a year.
To What Extent Food Availability Plays a Role on Bed Bugs?
Well, if the cold doesn’t bother bed bugs outside, the lack of warm blood nearby will definitely drive a said colony to extinction. After a long while, again, that is.
Yes, as mentioned above, they can survive for months outside, where it’s unlikely that their favourite food source will be hanging around for any length of time if it’s cold. On that note, if they have to, bed bugs will approach a chicken, a curled-up cat or any other animal outdoors to receive their critical dose of blood.
On a bigger scheme, food deprivation affects a bed bug family’s survival as a whole – females don’t produce eggs and young ones won’t reach adulthood.
Bed Bug Predators
Bed bugs will be eaten by various other insects and animals. From certain spiders, common cockroaches and a few ferocious types of ants to lizards and scorpions, the poor bugs are in grave danger if those emerge in the vicinity or if you encourage natural predators in your garden as means to get rid of pests.
Well, it’s another matter if you’ll dare to introduce some of these critters into your garden, considering that they are not exactly beneficial insects.
Furthermore, bed bugs that live outside your house are likely to outnumber any of their potential enemies. So, most of the colony will survive and enjoy the prospect of getting closer to where you sleep at night.
Important: Don’t use boric acid. It does not work for bed bugs It is basically a stomach poison and they will simply not ingest it unless flowing through your veins or all over your skin.
How Far Can Bed Bugs Travel Outside?
These pesky bloodsuckers will routinely patrol up to 20-foot away each and every night in search of food. Don’t be fooled, it’s an extremely adaptive species that can move fast and overcome various obstacles. Bed bugs are tiny and holes and cracks work in their favour.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide Outdoors?
So, where do bed bugs survive outside? Be sure, they will hang around near an inhabited property. Or to be more precise, there’s a high probability that the insect pests will make a temporary habitat out of any of the following:
Do Bed Bugs Live in Your Patio Furniture?
It doesn’t really matter how bed bugs infest your garden furnishings – you brought a contaminated piece from a thrift store or your neighbours drove them away from their house with a medium-strength insecticide.
The vermin crawlies are known to settle in the seaming of all sorts of fabric upholstery, as well as in crevices of wicker, wooden and rattan furniture. At least for a short while, until they feel brave or hungry enough to head towards your bed.
Do Bed Bugs Live in Grass, Sheds, Garages and Barns?
Sheds, garages and barns also provide plenty of concealed spots for the bugs to hide, from cracks in structural fixtures to any old junk and clutter. And those hiding places don’t have to be inside the building.
Usually, bed bugs won’t spend too much time in the grass but if drawn by a food source, they will proceed to follow. Exterior baseboards, wood beams and porch joints will do just fine when it comes to the pests’ “choice” of a short-term shelter.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Your Car?
Bed bugs may seek refuge in your parked vehicle to escape the cold, especially if they’ve sensed a human blood dispenser in the driver’s seat one bitterly cold morning.
Or you may end up with an infested car after a trip somewhere when bed bugs from afar got into your luggage in anticipation of a free ride and new “bloody” adventures.
Can Bed Bugs Survive in Storage Totes Outside?
The storage compartment will have enough to sustain the bugs for quite some time. In a small vail a single bed bug could survive up to two or three weeks.
How Long do Bed Bugs Live When Put Outside in Black Trash Bags?
The bags themselves do not pose any treat to bed bugs. This means that you wouldn’t want to approach any bedbug infested pile of trash for weeks to come.
Do Bed Bugs Live in Wood Piles Outside?
Bed bugs can live in wood piles outside. In their terms of perspective, the environment is sort of the same. However, the presence of many of the natural predators of bed bugs could make wooden piles a slightly harsher place to be, bed bugs might survive for weeks.
Do Bed Bugs Live Outside in Hot Summer Weather?
And finally, are you wondering if your favourite pastime in the summer could be spoiled by outdoor bed bugs having a nibble on you while you’re pruning, planting or weeding in your garden?
There’s a myth that the critters are in abundance in the warm weather months. But the truth is that bed bugs can be active all year round, providing that they are settled in a place that has optimum conditions – somewhere warm, comfortable, hidden and with plenty of blood going around.
Still, if stuck outdoors for whatever reason, bed bugs will be more active in the summer period than in the cold weather months. They will instinctively be more “determined” to travel and relocate near a food source, in order to reproduce successfully and preserve the well-being of the entire colony.
Now you know that getting an itchy bite in the summer, while appreciating your lovely flowers in the garden, isn’t always the works of a pesky mosquito. And if it’s a bed bug, be sure, the pest will be no longer outdoors in the winter.
Can Bed Bugs Live Outside? Yes!
The superior survival skills of bed bugs have prompted the development of advanced pest control methods against them, based on scientific research and numerous lab tests.
So, if you think you have bed bugs in or outside your property, don’t leave their eradication to chance or rely on any DIY techniques for that matter. Call a professional to handle the problem.