How Long Do Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag?

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag?

Bed bugs have a pretty infamous status among homeowners, yet there is still a lot of confusion and misinformation about bed bugs, how long they can survive, how they behave, and other characteristics. Many people who have dealt with bed bugs have successfully used plastic bags to quarantine or gather them, so it's a good idea to know how long bed bugs can survive in such an environment.

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If you have bed bugs on your clothes and want to isolate them, or just want to suffocate the little critters, bagging them up may seem like the ideal solution. Let's take a look at some of the factors that can decide just how long they're able to live within a sealed bag.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag?

CC Image courtesy of British Pest Control Association

Bed Bug Survival In Sealed Bags - The Factors

There are a few factors which determine how long a bed bug will be able to successfully remain alive inside of a plastic bag for. Below are by far the most important factors that will dictate survival rate timescales.

When The Bed Bugs Last Fed

One of the most important factors to consider is how long it has been since the bed bug has fed. As many people know, bed bugs prefer to eat about once per week. However, “prefer” and “need to” are two very different things.      

While bed bugs may eat about once a week when possible, they by no means need to do so. They will not starve for a much longer period of time. In fact, bed bugs have been known to live for as long as six months or more without feeding during that time.

CC Image courtesy of AFPMB

Temperature

Another important consideration when trying to estimate the survivability of bed bugs in a sealed plastic bag is the temperature.      

Bed bugs prefer to live in the same type of climate-controlled environment that humans prefer. However, for bed bugs it is not just a matter of preference. They actually can't survive in environments that are extremely hot or cold. Therefore, you can decrease the life span of bed bugs by placing the plastic bag in a very hot or cold environment.

What temperatures are we talking about? Well, bed bugs and their eggs start to die when the temperature surpasses 117 degrees Fahrenheit. For extreme cold, placing the plastic bag in your freezer will do the trick for both the bugs and the eggs. Leave it in there for at least a week for best results.

Freezing Bed Bugs

You can kill bed bugs and eggs by freezing them for many days

Air Supply

One final factor that can influence the survivability of entrapped bed bugs is the air supply within the bag. An airtight bag is already very necessary considering how small bed bugs are and how easily they could escape a bag that has even the tiniest of holes.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag

However, bed bugs do thrive in fresh air, so by manipulating the amount of air in the bag you're holding the bed bugs in, you can ensure that they don't live as long in captivity. If possible, vacuum pack the bag by pulling out excess air, which will severely limit how long the bed bugs can continue to live within the bag.

How To Ensure Bed Bugs Won’t Escape From The Bag

If you are going to store bed bugs in a plastic bag, you have to be very careful about doing it. Bed bugs are tiny, often being as small as half the size of a grain of rice, and they can escape many types of bags if given half the chance.

Furthermore, if you are creating an inhospitable environment in the bag, the bugs will be motivated to exit the bag by any possible means. This is especially true if the bed bugs are starving or if the bag is very hot or cold.

Therefore, you should take all of this into account and take every precaution to ensure that the bed bugs stored in your bag won't escape. Here are some useful tips to make sure that you are successful in this regard.

First of all, make sure that you use the right kind of bag. Obviously, a regular shopping bag made of thin plastic will not cut it. You need a heavy duty bag that you won't need for anything else in the future, but that is heavy duty enough to prevent bed bugs from escaping. Usually, a quality garbage bag can do it.

Now that you have the right bag, double-bag it just to be sure. If one of your bags happens to have a miniscule hole, you need the backup bag to make sure that the bed bugs can't get loose. If they do, you may have to deal with another annoying bed bug infestation.

Seal your bag as tightly as possible. This isn't like taking out the garbage where you can use the provided ties to loosely hold the bag's opening closed; you need an absolutely sealed bag that not even something very small can get out of.

Once you've double-bagged and sealed your bags, make sure that they're labeled and that anyone who comes across the bags knows what is inside. The last thing that you need is for a housemate or someone else to see the bag, get curious, and open it up to see what's in it.

Lastly, do not keep the bag within your house. There are numerous reasons for this. For one, if the bed bugs are able to escape, you absolutely do not want them back in your house, especially if they're able to get into the carpet and crawl away without notice.

Also, your garage or the area outside of your house may be ideal because if it's cold or very hot outside, it can help accelerate the death of the annoying bugs within.

Summary

If you find yourself dealing with a bed bug infestation, attention to detail is absolutely paramount as you attempt to get rid of the annoying pests for good. Any slip-ups or mistakes can mean that all of your work was for nothing and you will be dealing with yet another infestation.

Considering this, it is of the utmost importance that you use a heavy duty bag to enclose any bed bugs you find. Use extreme temperatures to kill the bugs and any eggs inside and make sure to store your bags outside of your home in case some of the bed bugs manage to survive and then escape.

Follow these guidelines with regard to bed bugs in plastic bags, and you'll have a better grasp of the situation before you know it.

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