Can Bed Bugs Live in Water? How Long Do They Survive?

​​How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In Water?

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. While many bugs drown in the face of water, bed bugs have the ability to stand strong for at least a short amount of time. However, rest assured — it isn’t all bad news.

A bed bug’s ability to survive in water is dependent on a few factors. In fact, once you have the right mix of elements, water can be a relatively successful way to eradicate these pests. Read on to find out more.

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how long can bed bugs live in water

CC Image courtesy of British Pest Control Association

Can Bed Bugs Swim?

Bed bugs may have strong crawling capabilities, but they cannot swim very well. They do have the ability to float though.

As bed bugs are such small creatures, they do not weigh very much at all. If a bed bug has not recently fed, it is usually light enough to remain on top of the water. It is there the bugs have the ability to survive for a number of days, as long as they do not slip beneath the surface.

However, if the surface tension breaks and a bug sinks under the water, their chances of survival fall. This is likely to happen to a heavier bed bug, one that has just fed and is full of blood. A sunken bed bug will not have the ability to resurface once it sinks below the water’s surface.

In general, bed bugs will try to avoid water. This aversion makes water a useful, physical barrier that you can use against them. You can place each leg of a piece of furniture, say your bed, into a bowl of water. The water will prevent the bed bugs from climbing up the legs of the furniture from the ground.

However, this method should be used alongside other preventative methods too. Bed bugs can climb walls and jump; so they may still be able to descend onto your bed or couch this way.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in Water For?

As mentioned above, their ability to float provides them with a survival mechanism, as delicate as it may be. The clock starts ticking the moment they sink. A bed bug’s eggs are able to survive, even after being submerged in water for 24 hours.

Some more resilient bed bug eggs can survive for a while in water, as long as the temperature is cool. Therefore, washing garments on a cool machine wash when they contain bed bugs, is not an effective way to kill them.

Survival is dependent on, and directly affected by, the temperature of the water the bed bugs are in. Bugs, either on or below the surface, will not be able to survive in water at higher temperatures. As soon as their body temperature reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit, bed bugs will die. This is the case with both fully grown bed bugs and their unhatched eggs.

If you are looking for a way to kill bed bugs on clothes or bed sheets, the washing machine is a great solution. Place the garments on the hottest wash setting, with detergent, and the bed bugs will not survive. Running the garments through a hot setting in a dryer for 30 minutes will also help to kill them.

However, if your home is being treated for bugs, make sure to keep the newly cleaned items in sealed bags. This will prevent any other bed bugs, or eggs, from finding their way into the clean garments.

Even if you manage to kill a few bed bugs in water, this won’t eliminate those elsewhere in your home. You should consider using other methods too, in order to get the most effective results.

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