What Do Bed Bugs Eat? Do They Only Feed On Humans?

While bed bugs like human blood, they have been known to feed on animals like bats too. Discover more about bed bugs and their different types.

Bed bugs. You want them gone. They want to take over your home – and your bed. They do that well, staying hidden by day and preying on you at night while you are defenseless. This works for them and keeps them out of trouble with their human blood donors. But what do bed bugs eat besides blood?

There are many species of bed bugs, and they all feed on blood. Most species prefer one mammal over another. For some, the blood of specific mammals is required for them to lay viable eggs and survive. Most bed bugs, however, will feed on any blood available to sustain themselves, if their preferred warm blood is not available.

The most common species of bed bug associated with people is formally named Cimex lectularius. Human blood is their primary energy source. We house them, feed their young and provide them with the nutritional elements they must have to breed and produce viable eggs.

Should bed bugs be found in your house, they will most likely be C. lectularius, but it is important to remember that there is a possibility of other species invading, such as bat bugs. Bat bugs are in the same family as bed bugs and formally named Cimex adjunctus. As their name indicates, bat bugs live with and feed mostly on bats. Like C. lectularius, they will feed and survive on the blood of other mammals, including humans, but they must have bat blood to reproduce.

It is very important to identify which Cimex species you have, because their habits and habitats are quite different. In a typical bed bug infestation, close to 70 percent of the bed bugs will be either on or very close to the bed area.

You may not realize you have a bat infestation until bat bugs are identified in your home. Bat bug infestations will usually be in the attic or wall voids where bats have been nesting. These hiding spots are in completely different locations than that of bed bugs. Control must include removal of the bats and the bat bugs.

What do bed bugs eat? They might snack on animals. They might have bat-tasting relatives. But in the end, the bed bug’s favorite thing to eat is your blood. It will probably take a professional pest management specialist to identify whether you are dealing with human bloodsuckers or their bat brethren. The primary identifier is the relationship between the length of the hairs on the pronotum and the size of the eyes. Don’t know what a pronotum is? Then save your time, and your blood – call a professional.