Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Alene Schill
Rewritten: Bed bugs are considered some of the most bothersome creatures. They not only feed on human blood, but a bed bug infestation also leads to sleeplessness and irritated skin.
We know they like biting you, but do bed bugs have other diets? We have compiled and researched some of a bed bug’s most favorite meals (aside from your blood)!
If There’s No Blood, What Do Bed Bugs Eat?
Human blood has always been the staple meal of the nasty back biters. Since adult bed bugs have saturated almost all homes, they have latched onto humans for their obligatory meal. Bed bugs eat nothing else because their mouthparts are specifically designed to suck blood.
Evolutionarily speaking, other bed bugs from the wild, like the Cimex Adjunctus (also called bat bugs), eat bat blood. However, that rarely happens nowadays since bed bugs feed solely on human blood. Are you also wondering if bed bugs are attracted to certain blood types?
To Eat Or Not To Eat
While some insects are known for insect parasitism, do bed bugs also share the same characteristics? No, they don’t. Bed bugs prefer human blood.
A bed bug bites its host’s skin and inserts its long labium (straw-like sucking mouthpart) for its blood meal, while the short one is for injecting an anesthetic-like substance into the bite resulting in rashes or allergic reactions.
However, even if there are no hosts around, bed bugs will not attempt to eat each other as this will reduce the population’s potential mates.
Since the human bloodsuckers live close to the body, others think they eat dead skin, but bed bugs eat only blood. Those that eat dead skin are called dust mites. They survive by feeding on the dust and our flasks of dead skin.
Like a bed bug, dust mites can also make your bed, bed frames, and personal belongings their hiding place. They also thrive in warm conditions but are killed by extreme heat; the only difference is their manner of feeding. 
As mentioned above, a specific class of bed bugs called bat bugs can survive by feeding on the blood of other mammals like bats. Like a common bed bug, they bite through the skin and suck the blood out.
Bed bugs mostly prefer hosts with high body temperature. However, when their preferred host is unavailable, the insects can feed on cold-blooded animals (or those with low temperatures in the body). But do bed bugs smell blood?
So what do bed bugs eat other than blood? Most people think bed bugs eat crumbs. Many pests survive by eating trash from people’s homes or any food left out in the open.
This is commonly observed among cockroaches, but bed bug infestations mainly revolve around human blood or other mammals.
Even if there is no other way, bed bugs won’t resort to eating crumbs.
The bloodsuckers often hide in bed frames and crevices along wooden walls before they pounce for a hearty meal of blood, so do bed bugs eat wood also? No, they don’t.
Humans often confuse them for termites because most bed bugs rely solely on wooden cracks for shelter.
So bed bugs don’t eat their own kind, but do bed bugs eat other insects? Other insects feed on other critters to survive, but bed bugs don’t fall under that category.
Bed bugs mainly feed on the blood of humans. Even if bed bugs had direct access to other alive or dead insects, they wouldn’t be enticed to feed off them. But can pets carry bed bugs?
Humans who complain of bed bug infestations claim they feel bed bugs feeding off their hair when they sleep, but that may be an exaggeration. They only feed on blood, so they don’t eat hair. Even fleas or ticks feed not directly on hair but on the scalp. But can bed bugs get into your private parts?
Unlike humans that are incapable of surviving without water, a bed bug only needs blood to quench its thirst and nutritional needs. When they eat blood, they can isolate the water from the blood, plus their waxy external shell is made to prevent water from evaporating, so they’re pretty much set in the hydration department.
As a matter of fact, bed bugs die naturally when drowned in hot water. Although it doesn’t take a few minutes, it simply shows that water isn’t for them.
Bed Bug Eggs
Like the adults, bed bug eggs are visible to the naked eye, but do bed bugs feed on their young when there is no food around? No, they don’t. Insects lay eggs to proliferate their kind, and eating them would be counterintuitive.
They perform a special communication that keeps them from parasitizing the younger ones so their species can survive longer.
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Why Do Bed Bugs Only Feed On Blood?
Imagine if you had just a straw for a mouth, you’d pretty much only eat soup to survive, and such is the case among bed bugs. Other food types are literally inadmissible, so they resort to drinking liquid foods — blood. That explains the light brown to reddish-brown excretions they leave outside their hiding spots which are digested blood from their meals.
Like humans, bed bugs can survive only on blood from mammals with higher temperatures. However, mammals with cold temperatures can be an alternative when the desired host is unavailable.
How Often Do They Eat?
Bed bugs are known to survive prolonged periods of time even when they don’t feed. On average, they can survive for 2-3 months without a host to feed on, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to consume blood frequently.
Like humans, we can survive up to 21 days without food and water and up to 3 months without food, provided potable water is available. However, we still eat 3 meals a day. Bed bugs also need to feed about once every 10 days or two weeks.
How Long Can Bed Bugs Survive Without Eating?
One common myth among bed bugs is that they can normally survive with no food for up to a year, but that simply isn’t true. The temperature and humidity highly influence their survival in their surroundings.
At normal 23° Celsius, bed bugs at older stages can only survive two to three months without food. They can slow down their metabolism in chillier cold temperatures to prolong their survival without feeding, which, in some cases, goes beyond a year. 
This is rarely the case.
Will too much blood kill bed bugs?
Normally yes, but bed bugs will not feed beyond what their bodies can carry. A bed bug can consume food up to 6 times its body weight, constituting around 3-10 minutes of feeding time. After which, they return to their hiding spots and hibernate until their next blood meal.
How long can a bed bug live?
Bed bugs can live up to 10 months on average. A normal bed bug living under normal environmental conditions (23° Celsius) and a readily available blood supply can definitely last up to almost a year. 
If you’re still wondering, “what do bed bugs eat other than blood?” there is one simple answer: none. Bed bugs feed primarily on blood, and you won’t entice them any time sooner to feed on other meals no matter how hard you try.
So, you will most likely wake up with bite marks all over unless you do something about your bed bug infestation. As final words, feel free to contact pest control companies or kill the insects yourself to unshackle yourself from the pesky human bloodsuckers.
Alene Schill is a property manager from Columbus, Ohio, who has dealt with numerous pest control agencies. She helps families find the perfect homes and knows very well that bed bugs are an ultimate deal-breaker. She enjoys cycling around Scioto Mile during her spare time.