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How Long Do Bed Bugs Live in a Plastic Bag? (2022 Updated)

Now that you successfully removed the bed bugs from your mattress and furniture, you may be tempted to place them inside a Ziploc or any sealed plastic bag, for that matter. 

But how long do bed bugs live in a plastic bag? Will they survive or not? We scoured the internet to find the answer.  

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag? 

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag? 

Many people think that they can use plastic bags to suffocate bed bugs and kill them, but did you know that bed bugs don’t need much oxygen and food to live? 

Bed bugs can live up to 400 days, even without food [1], so they can live in plastic for a year or longer, depending on the humidity and temperature. 

If you plan to get rid of bed bug infestation, you cannot trust a plastic bag as the primary method for killing bed bugs, but it can be helpful. You can use an airtight bag to secure infested things like clothes so that they will not contaminate other belongings and for easy mobilization. 

Will Leaving Clothes in Plastic Bags Kill Them?

They say “desperate times call for desperate measures,” which may apply to bed bug-infested items. People get a plastic bag and gather all clothes with a severe infestation, hoping that suffocation will kill bed bugs.

We hate to break it to you, but no, leaving clothes in plastic bags will not kill them. We knew earlier that bed bugs are immune to being sealed in plastic bags, so you cannot kill bed bugs just by stuffing infested clothes in the bags. 

However, it can be useful in isolating bed bugs from other things. Also, it is a handy way to transport clothing without spreading it on non-infested items. 

Factors To Consider

Factors To Consider

Temperature

Hot

Aside from food, the temperature is another condition for the bed bugs to survive in the environment. Bed bugs live in the same temperature environment as humans do; however, it is not a preference but a requirement for them to survive. 

If you have a bed bug problem, heat treatments, professional steam cleaning, and home steam cleaner can help bed bugs die faster. If you prefer to kill bed bugs inside the plastic bag, use extreme temperatures. 

Did you know? Excessive heat can kill bed bugs! At 120 °F, bed bugs and bed bug eggs start to die.

Cold

Aside from exposure to heat temperature, another way to kill bed bugs is by using cold temperature. Cold temperatures help kill bed bugs [2], so if you have a freezer (not for food, of course, that’s disgusting!), you can use it to kill these tiny bloodsuckers. 

Using a ziplock bag or a plastic garbage bag, seal the bed bugs or anything infested and freeze them for three to five days. Also, you can use bed bug sprays or pest control measures after they freeze to death to ensure their demise. 

Air Supply

Air Supply

Another factor that influences the survival of bed bugs inside the plastic bag is the air supply. While bed bugs don’t need as much air to survive, they do thrive in fresh air, so controlling the air supply contributes to the success of eliminating bed bugs. 

We highly recommend a vacuum-sealed bag that pulls out excess air because vacuum bags may kill bed bugs quicker. Also, air-tight bugs are necessary because they prevent the bed bugs from escaping. If you use a vacuum cleaner to deeply clean your furniture, empty the vacuum cleaner bag and seal it to cut off air.   

Bed Bug Age

Young

Young bed bugs have a lower chance of survival than adult bed bugs. They die first due to unfavorable temperatures and lack of food. Bed bugs have life stages, and young or nymphs go through five before being adults. Young ones must feed more often than adults because they can only survive for weeks without food. 

Old

Bed bug adults can survive for a year without food, so there is a higher chance for them to survive than younger ones. In addition, a bed bug can lay 200 to 250 eggs in its lifetime. Since adult bugs can last from 20 – 400 days without food, there are surely four successive generations of bed bugs per year. Yikes! 

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Can Bed Bugs Get Out of Plastic or Ziploc?

Can Bed Bugs Get Out of Plastic or Ziploc?  

Bed bugs cannot get out of a sealed plastic bag or Ziploc because they don’t have teeth that can chew or bite. Bed bugs have a tube-like sucker needle to feed themselves, but there is no way for them to scratch a good black plastic garbage bag using it. 

However, if you use some grocery store bags made from plastic and those are with smaller holes, they can easily slip through them. By this, you should use sturdy trash bags or ziplock and seal the top with tape to help prevent small bed bugs from escaping. 

Will Bed Bugs Live in Vacuum Sealed Bags? 

Bed bugs cannot live in vacuum-sealed bags, but how long bed bugs can survive in that environment? As we mentioned earlier, even without food and very little oxygen, bed bugs can survive and live in plastic for over a year. If you want to get rid of the bed bugs, place the bags at very high or very low temperatures. 

Vacuum storage bags are useful in protecting your stuff from cross-contamination but not for killing bed bugs promptly. A bed bug can die in suffocation because, after all, they are animals. However, it can be a long process and inefficient since infestation should be dealt with immediately.

FAQs 

Do bed bugs lay eggs on plastic?

No, bed bugs do not lay eggs on plastic. It is unusual for bed bugs to lay eggs on plastic because they prefer to lay eggs on mattresses or other living space furniture. It gives the best access to their host. 

However, bed bugs may lay eggs on plastic, especially if they are trapped inside. While they have nesting instincts, if the mommy bed bug is pregnant, there is no way she can hold it, especially since they lay eggs one to twelve times a day. 

Do bed bugs hate plastic?

Bed bugs do not hate plastic, but they will surely choose fabric over plastic. Plastic is smooth and flat, so they cannot lay eggs there, unlike fabrics. Newly cleaned things are placed in plastic bins because bed bugs cannot crawl there. 

In addition, it would be challenging for bed bugs to keep the eggs in place and well protected in plastic. Plastic is always hole-free, to begin with, but since not all plastics are created equal, if there is a tiny hole, they will surely go through it. 

Do plastic mattress covers stop bed bugs?

No, plastic mattress covers cannot stop bed bugs. A plastic mattress cover can trap existing bed bugs in your mattress and keep them from spreading to other furniture. However, it cannot get rid of or stop bed bugs from populating faster unless you use pest control.

Plastic mattress covers may not immediately kill them, but they may not last long since they don’t have access to much air and food. 

Can bed bugs climb plastic?

No, bed bugs cannot climb plastic. Bed bugs cannot climb any smooth surface like plastic, glass, and alike. They may have claws at the end of their legs, but they cannot climb or crawl on smooth surfaces. 

However, bed bugs can climb other materials to reach the host- their food source. They can climb curtains, wooden furniture, picture frame, small toys, stuffed animals, and bed frames, but there is no way they can climb smooth surfaces like plastic.

Can bed bugs eat through plastic bags?

No, bed bugs cannot eat through plastic. Even though they are known for their bites, they don’t have teeth, so there is no way that they can eat through plastic. Since they cannot eat through plastic, people are putting clothes (bug-infested) in plastic bags to starve and suffocate them. 

The bed bug is almost the same size as an apple seed, and it has a tube-like needle that they use to suck blood. But that is not enough to cut through a good plastic bag, so choose the right bag for the bed bugs. So what do bed bugs eat aside from blood?

Final Thoughts 

After cleaning the entire home infested with bed bugs, it is natural that we put everything in a plastic bag hoping that bed bugs will die from starvation and suffocation. While using a plastic bag is possible and helpful, it is not the fastest way to kill bed bugs because they can live there. 

Bed bugs can live in the plastic bag, but extreme temperature and air control can shorten their lifespan. Bed bugs can stay alive for a year even without food, but their survival rate decreases if the temperature and humidity of the environment are unfavorable for them. 

References:

  1. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7454.html 
  2. https://extension.umn.edu/biting-insects/bed-bugs#what-you-can-do-yourself-49011

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