Goodnight, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite is a cliche sing-song rhyme kids are usually told as they go to sleep. For some, they were actually told this, and others, we only saw it on TV; cartoons and American movies. But what are bed bugs and what do bed bugs eat? Bed bugs are insects that feed on human blood usually at night. They can be found in your house usually in well-protected places where they can easily hide in places like mattress, beds, couches and clothing. Bed bugs are reddish, flat and have an oval-like body. They’re also really small and this gives them some stealth and swiftness. It also allows them to manoeuvre around tight spaces like crevices and right in your closest through small openings. Bedbugs do not fly, thankfully – but they are capable of laying hundreds of eggs as small as a dust specks.
Their bites are known to not carry any infectious diseases and are generally not painful, but they can lead to health impacts like rashes, sleep disturbance, some psychological impacts like stress, anxiety and chronic attacks, also allergic symptoms like itchiness, tiredness and a hayfever may arise. They feed on blood for about three to ten minutes before crawling away, probably with smirk satisfaction on their faces.
There are several ways one can control the population size of bed bugs in the house. Predation is discussed for amusement, but it’s generally not recommended. It’s also somewhat difficult to prevent a bed bug infestation since they are adapted to feed on human blood and are attracted by the Carbon Dioxide we breathe out.
What eats bed bugs
Bed bugs are fortunately not any apex predator. They are little blood-sucking nuisances which are preyed on by a wide variety of other insects and animals. Some of the natural enemies of a bed bug are listed down below. Though for many of them, if not all, it would probably not be a very good or a pleasant idea to introduce these predators in your house; you’d be risking a bug infestation which won’t be easy to control. Unfortunately, these bugs already look too disgusting to be eaten by humans, and they emit an unpleasant odour when crushed too. Predation is also generally not effective because of how fast beg bugs can grow and how well they can hide. The presence of these natural enemies, however, could allude to the presence of bed bugs, to begin with so it is worthwhile to know about them. Primarily, pharaoh ants and cockroaches find bed bugs as a reasonable source of nutrition and are thus one of the natural enemies you are due to find in your house. Some species of spiders and other insects and animals also prey on bed bugs. This is discussed in detail below.
Not many people or animals, as a matter of fact, go out of their way to eat bugs, especially not bugs that emit an unpleasant odour when squashed. But there are some insects which find bugs, and bed bugs in particular – a scrumptious meal to be savoured. Some of these are, for example, the Masked Beetle Hunters. These flying dark brown/black bugs with elongated bodies are found in the USA, mostly in the eastern and central parts since they generally prefer warmer climates, otherwise, they will tend to live in homes of humans. They are known to feed on bed bugs. They are also capable of biting humans, and their bite is said to be as painful as a snake’s bite so you probably don’t want this bug predator as a means of pest control in your house. In fact, if you find it, you should probably get rid of it. Below, other bed bug predators are discussed.
Cockroaches are omnivorous, so they feed on pretty much any organic food content there is in the house and make a nasty little pest. They are mostly attracted to sweet, meaty and starchy foods and are also known to eat hair, books and other decaying matter. They are also known to spread diseases because they feast on human faeces and can easily go on to feed on human food. According to the World Health Organisation, cockroaches are proven or suspected carriers of diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, plague, typhoid fever, and viral diseases such as poliomyelitis. They also carry eggs of parasitic worms. Cockroaches are thus known to eat both bed bugs and their eggs even when they are such vermin. This applies to common household cockroaches like the German Cockroach and the American Cockroach. Given all this, it’s quite discomforting to leave your house pest control work to these little critters, and they just attract other bugs like spiders, to begin with. Their presence also doesn’t necessarily allude to the presence of bed bugs since they eat just about any organic matter and human hair. In a game of bed bug vs roach, the bed bug is small and fast enough to outrun and hide away from a cockroach though roaches are also quite fast.
Pharaoh ants are another example of bed bug predators. These 16th of inch-sized ants look like normal household ants, but instead of being black, they’re gold. They breed really quickly and the female is capable of producing up to 400 eggs in her lifetime. These ants are one of the most annoying and penetrative pests there are. They are so good at getting into places, they’ve been found in well-protected and well-shielded recombinant DNA laboratories. They can also survive most common household pest control treatments and fortunately, they feed on bed bugs as well. Because of their efficiency, it must be hard for bed bugs to hide from them, but at the same time, this makes them unpleasant guests in your house and ill-suited predators. This is since they also transmit diseases mechanically.
Do spiders eat bed bugs?
Some spiders do indeed kill bed bugs and since most insects, if not all, kill only to eat – these spiders eat bed bugs. Though the majority of house spiders have bodies that are as small as bed bugs, eating them would be a whole mission, so they tend to not. A spider generally tends to look bigger because of its legs. Some spiders are also passive hunters, they create traps – mostly in the air for flies where bed bugs aren’t likely to fly into because first of all, bed bugs don’t fly. Spiders that do hunt for their food don’t necessarily seek out bed bugs for a meal, instead, they only really eat them if they happen upon them in their escapades. Some of these hunting spiders are wolf spiders, yellow sac spiders, jumping spiders, and running crab spiders.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Introducing bed bug predators to reduce a bed bug infestation is generally not a good idea as they are also annoying pests that feed on other things in the house of value and may introduce diseases, making the problem bigger than it already is. If you want to get rid of bed bugs here are some alternate solutions:
- First of all, identify all infested areas like inside plug sockets, in bed frame cracks and any other dark small places usually in your bedroom, but not necessarily. You can also hire a professional to do this for you – some have dogs trained for this sort of thing.
- Seal-in the infestation by vacuuming all the places where you’ve identified these including your mattress and bedding and carefully dispose of the resulting waste.
- Prepare your house for treatment and seal all necessary cracks and openings in your home so no bug can easily slip through or hide in next time. You can then wash your beddings in very hot 115°F (46°C) or freezing cold water. Do this for at least 30 minutes and put them in a hot dryer for another 30 minutes minimum. You can then also use a steamer to clean places where the bed bugs were found and put freezing bags of ice in places where bed bugs were found for at least 4 days – constantly replacing it of course.
Bed bugs can always make it in your home despite how clean it is because they’re attracted to your blood. If you experience any of the bite symptoms make sure to follow the necessary steps to get rid of them and stay safe.