Bed bugs were once believed to be eradicated from the United States and other developed western countries. However, since the ban on the dangerous pesticide, DDT, bed bugs have reemerged once again.
If you are one of the thousands of people who are dealing with a bed bug infestation, you may feel like nothing can get rid of them. However, do you know that there are many bed bug predators out there that eat them? Many of these predators are fearsome pests themselves, however, they do prove that bed bugs are ultimately not invincible.
In this guide, you will learn about:
- What eats bed bugs?
- 7 types of bed bug predators
- Can bed bug predators help you eliminate an infestation?
- How can I naturally prevent bed bugs in my home?
What Insect Eats Bed Bugs?
Waking up only to find that you have bed bug bites all over your body naturally makes you revved up for some revenge. You will be happy to know that there are some natural enemies that these horrible bed bugs fear.
Bed bugs may love to gorge themselves on human blood, but fortunately, other pests are not as choosy when it comes to their meal. Several different species of insects are considered bed bug predators. These include ants (especially pharaoh ants), cockroaches, lizards, spiders, centipedes, mites and masked bed bug hunters.
7 Types of Bed Bug Predators
Below is a brief description of some of these bed bug predators:
A lot of ants, with the exception of sugar ants and other smaller species, love to chow on other insects. However, pharaoh ants, out of all the species, are known to eat bed bugs more often than others.
Pharaoh ants are infamous indoor pests and can create a formidable infestation in your home. They are light golden-brown or honey-colored, and the worker ants are just 2 millimeters in length. These ants are very adept at getting into food that has not been properly covered and can spread illness like dysentery and salmonella.
These ants breed very quickly with a single queen laying approximately 400 eggs in her life. You will see these ants are more active in warm, humid weather as they cannot survive in the cold. Pharaoh ants preferred diet is sugar and fats; however, they can eat virtually anything if hungry, including clothes as well as bed bugs and their eggs.
However, these ants are not a great way to treat your bed bug problem as they can infest your house, in turn. They are also quite annoying to rid off, because if they aren’t exterminated using the correct methods, they can split up and create several mounds around your home, making the task even more irritating.
Nothing inspires more disgust than cockroaches. However, one good thing about them is that they feed on bed bugs. Roaches, include Supella longipalpa, the brown-banded cockroaches; Periplaneta Americana, the American cockroach; Blattella germanica, the German cockroach; and Blatta orientalis, the Oriental cockroaches. They have a varied diet, and they can even resort to biting humans if they run out of their regular food.
Cockroaches are usually one to three inches long and have wings with limited function. They are reddish-brown in color and can crawl quite fast. These pests love starchy food, leftover crumbs, and garbage as well as dead skin and human hair. Hence, they also eat bed bugs and their eggs.
These disgusting pests can cause infections — and it’s no wonder since they live and breed in the dirtiest of places, the likes of sewers. If they find your way to your kitchen, they can contaminate your food.
Cockroaches are not a good method to exterminate bed bugs as bed bugs breed much faster than cockroaches can eat them. In most houses, cockroaches dwell in kitchens and bathrooms, while bed bugs live in the bedrooms. Additionally, you do not want cockroaches to invade your sleeping place either, especially since they carry diseases. They are also notoriously difficult to eliminate as confirmed by the fact that they can even survive the fallout from a nuclear explosion.
The masked hunter is part of the assassin bug family and is a terrestrial ambush predator. They are named so because their nymphs tend to mask themselves with dust. You will also be glad to know that they are known as masked bed bug hunters. However, these animals love to bite, not just insects, but humans as well — and their bite can be extremely painful.
These masked bed bug hunters are about 17 to 22 millimeters long in their adult form. They are very dark brown or black in color and have shiny carapaces. They have elongated bodies and can fly. They usually live in warm and dry places but choose to live inside houses and barns in cold places. They prefer areas inhabited with bats and pigeons as these animals are quite often a host to pests that masked bed bug hunters like to prey upon.
Since masked hunters love to feed on house-infesting arthropods, bed bugs are one of their favored meals. However, it isn’t advisable to keep them in your house as their bite can be as painful as a snake’s.
There are several varieties of spiders that eat bed bugs. A dominant species know for hunting bed bugs is called Thanatus flavidus. These insects spin webs that can easily entangle their prey and give them no chance to escape; they are also not known to carry any diseases. Another point in their favor is that they are more likely to inhabit your bedroom than pharaoh ants or cockroaches.
Unfortunately, spiders are unable to eat bed bugs as fast as bed bugs can breed, so they are not enough to get rid of a bed bug infestation. You also don’t want a spider crawling down from its web to your face in the middle of your sleep.
Lizards have a menu consisting of a long list of various types of insects, including bed bugs. Most of these lizards eat live insects rather than dead bugs, so any bed bug crawling across your bedding may likely become the target of a lizard in your bedroom. However, once again, you may need hundreds of lizards to eliminate bed bugs in your home. Specific lizards also need a certain type of climate to survive. On the plus side though, lizards are quite harmless, and a lot of their different lizard species are quite adorable and are kept as pets.
You may not necessarily want to go to a pet store and fill your house with domesticated lizards; however, people who have wild geckos in their house claim they don’t have many insects in the house.
Centipedes are quite fascinating creatures. Despite what their name means, they have 30 legs, not a hundred. They are also avid bed bug predators and love to prey on other invertebrate insects as well. The main species that dine on bed bugs is called Scutigera coleoptrata.
You will need a huge population of centipedes in your home if you want to get rid of bed bug infestation. However, that is not a good idea since these animals will themselves become quite bothersome after a while and they are also liable to attack and bite humans.
Cone Nosed Insects
Cone nosed insects, also commonly known as kissing bugs, are another family of assassin bugs. Like most insects of the class, kissing bugs also like to feed on bed bugs. However, living with these bugs can be a worse experience than living with bed bugs.
These horrible creatures can bite people’s face while they are asleep at night and can transmit horrific diseases, like Chagas disease, if they have fed on the blood of infected mammals. Their bite can also cause anaphylactic reactions in people, leading to emergency room visits.
Can Bed Bug Predators Help You Eliminate an Infestation?
The short answer is no. Unfortunately, biologically controlling bed bugs through these predators may not be the best option for you. That’s because these predators can create infestations of their own, which you may need to eliminate later. Many of them bite and carry potentially lethal diseases as well. Moreover, bed bugs love to hide into tiny crevices, including the cracks in your bed and the split in the side of your mattress. You certainly don’t want to bring any more creepy crawlies near your sleeping place.
How Can I Naturally Prevent Bed Bugs In My Home?
Preventing a bed bug infestation in its infancy will eliminate a greater headache later. Here are some home remedies that you can follow to minimize the risk of a bed bug outbreak.
- Buying Used Items: Some used items, like clothes from flea markets (they are called flea markets for a reason) or second-hand mattresses, should be bought with caution. You may think you are getting a great bargain on some of these things, but they can cost you in the long run, especially if they come with added bed bugs.
- Travel Cautiously: Hotel rooms are infamous for harboring bed bugs. When traveling, it is important that you pay close attention to your living quarters. Check the bed and mattresses for any bed bugs in the room you are staying. Also, make sure you keep your clothes in a plastic bed so no insect can get to them.
- Laundry: Whether the place you were staying at had an infestation or not, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Wash all your travel clothes in hot water or place them in the dryer to kill any unwanted hitchhiker.
- Frequent Checks: Check your beds, mattresses, sofas, and carpets for any signs of bed bug inhabitation. Keep your house thoroughly vacuumed at all times to get rid of any errant bed bugs.
By exercising just a little bit of caution, you can keep your home free from bed bugs.