Just saying the words “bed bugs” immediately conjures an image for many of creepy, crawly, ugly and itchy little pests that are a nightmare to eliminate once your house becomes infected. They bite you in your sleep usually and because they inject an anesthetic before doing so, you won’t even know they’ve chomped down on your skin until you see the red, itchy welts appear.

While the bugs are quite resilient, one might assume that the little critters need a host (such as you or me) to live and if purchasing a house that has been empty for some time, there is no chance that it could be infested with bed bugs. But, is that the case? Let’s look at some facts about these pesky pests and see if that’s the case:

  • Bed bugs don’t need beds. While we often think of bed bugs hanging out in, well, beds, these yucky pests can survive just about anywhere. They have been found in planes, trains and automobiles, as well as in movie theaters, college dorms and grocery stores. The rule of thumb is, if humans go there, bed bugs will to.
  • Bed bugs don’t play favorites when it comes to which states they live in. No area of the country is safe from bed bugs as they have been found in all 50 states. Sadly, you can’t just pack your bags and move away from them.
  • They are excellent at hide and seek. One of the things that make bed bugs to hard to get rid of is that they are masters at staying out of sight. They traditionally only come out to feed at night and once they do, they will hide away for 5-10 days while they digest. If you go looking for them, unless you’re a professional, chances are, you won’t find them.
  • They are survivors. Want to try to freeze them out? Not likely, as bed bugs can live in extremely cold temperatures. Think cranking up the heat will send them packing? Nope! Bed bugs can thrive in temperatures as high as 122 degrees! And even with not a human in sight, bed bugs can live for months and month and have even been found alive in storage units for up to a year!
  • They can live on very little oxygen. While they CAN die if there is no access to oxygen, creating a true zero vacuum is nearly impossible without scientific equipment, so it’s not a tactic you can rely on. If you capture them in a sealed bag, it is more likely they would die of starvation than oxygen deprivation.

So How Long Can Bed Bugs Survive in an Abandoned House?

So back to our question, bed bugs can survive in an abandoned house indefinitely.

If they’re not killed by an exterminator or other predators (like cockroaches or spiders) bed bugs will stay in an empty house until they run out of their food source and move on. And that could take years.

So if you’re hoping that your new fixer upper home is free of bed bugs because no one has lived there in years, think again. The only way to know for sure is to call in an exterminator or bed bug specialist to test your home. The good news is if you’re in Palo Alto, San Jose, or anywhere near Silicon Valley, our team is ready to help. Call today to schedule your inspection.