What Do Bed Bugs Eat Other than Blood?

What Do Bed Bugs Eat Other than Blood?

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects of the Cimicidae family, who feed on their hosts’ blood for sustenance. Despite their dependency on blood for their diet, bed bugs are considered to be opportunistic feeders that can survive on a wide variety of food sources.

Organic Matter and Starches

Bed bugs are known to feed on materials rich in organic matter, such as dead skin flakes and pet dander. Additionally, they also have been known to consume plant materials rich in starches and carbohydrates, such as flower petals. Studies have found that adult bed bugs can often become full on plant-based meals, not requiring the additional sustenance of a blood meal.

Synthetic Materials

Surprisingly, bed bugs have been known to feed on non-organic meals, such as artificial fabrics, synthetic materials, and even waterproof clothing. Though these alternative sources of sustenance do not provide the necessary nutrients needed for the development of bed bugs, they can still provide enough sustenance for a bed bug to survive and reproduce to the next generation.

The Bottom Line

Bed bugs are widely considered rude guests, as nobody likes a bug bite scratching away in their sleep. Despite the horrific reputation, bed bugs are highly adaptable creatures that can survive on a wide variety of food sources; ranging from organic matter to synthetic materials. Thus, although bed bugs are widely known as blood-sucking parasites, they are capable of surviving on a sturdy diet that goes beyond the need of a human (or other mammal) meal.


  • Clay, A. “What Do Bed Bugs Eat.” Do Bedbugs Bite? 2020, dobedbugsbite.net/what-do-bed-bugs-eat/.
  • Bennett, K. C., and G. P. Geiselman. “Preliminary Studies on the Feeding Potential of Adult Bedbugs, Cimex lectularius, on Artificial Diets and Wool.” Journal of Economic Entomology, vol. 79, no. 6, 1986, pp. 1571–1576., doi:10.1093/jee/79.6.1571.

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