How Long Can Bed bugs Go Without Oxygen?

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The trend that the entire pest control industry is witnessing is the increasing resistance of pests to chemical pest treatments. It takes more lethal chemicals to kill cockroaches today than it did a decade ago. Bed bugs, too, are not immune from developing this immunity. This is why scientists began researching how long can bed bugs go without oxygen? Is it possible that oxygen starvation is the future of bed bug pest control?

In this article, I have discussed how bed bugs can be killed using the lack of oxygen as a tool. Although it is not possible to implement this form of treatment onto your mattresses, it might be a slightly better option than pesticides in the coming years!

How Long Can Bed Bugs Go Without Oxygen?

A scientific research study conducted by The Journal of Economic Entomology found that bed bugs, like most other insects and animals, will eventually die if you starve their oxygen supply. However, this is not as s straightforward as it seems to us laymen. 

how long can bed bugs go without oxygen

The fact is that these scientists set up a controlled environment in which they placed these live bugs. Then, they gradually reduced the percentage of oxygen and tracked the survival rates of these insects. True to expectation, a whopping 99% of bugs died as a result of the low percentage of oxygen.

In fact, it wasn’t only the adult bugs that died. Lowering the oxygen percentage ensured the death of all the life stages of bed bugs – the eggs of bed bugs, their nymphs, and adult bed bugs! 

The study concluded that the lower the percentage of oxygen in the immediate atmosphere of the bed bugs, the quicker they would die. However, no specific timeline has been proffered to say exactly how much time it would take.

Technically speaking, starving a local space of oxygen would be an efficient way to deal with bed bug infestations. However, it is highly unlikely that you can do this yet! 

Why Can’t You Kill Bed Bugs By Suffocating Them At Home?

So, as I mentioned, the setup that the scientists in the study used was an extremely controlled environment. Logically speaking, it would be impossible to introduce a vacuum or a seal in a space as large as your bedroom, and that too to the extent that it would kill bed bugs. 


You might think that vacuum baggies are your solution here, but it is simply impossible to target the reduction of only oxygen levels in a bag.

Imagine this: you find bed bugs in a bedsheet. Therefore, you stuff the bedsheet (infested item) into a vacuum bag. Even if you manually press all the air out, the fabric will still retain air, and you won’t be able to create a proper vacuum. 

Even though the air in the bag would not be a substantial amount, it would still be too much air for bed bugs! 

Can You Kill Bedbugs by Vacuum Sealing Plastic Bags?

Vacuum sealing plastic bags

No, you simply cannot kill bedbugs by vacuum-sealing a plastic bag. The reason is that it is not particularly possible to create a proper vacuum that would lack any air. Therefore, bedbugs would invariably survive. 

Keep in mind that it is not solely the absence of air that would kill bed bugs, per se, rather the absence of oxygen. Bed bugs can breathe properly in environments that have lesser air with normal percentages of oxygen. However, if they have access to a lot of air where the oxygen percentage is very low, they will die. 

What Are Some Realistic Ways to Kill Bed Bugs Without Depending on Vacuum Sealed Bags?

Here are some of the practical ways that you can use to kill and get rid of bed bugs from your house!

Pesticide spray treatment

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The most obvious way to kill bed bugs is to use pesticide spray on your mattress and in the cracks and crevices within the bedroom and its furniture. While you can do it by yourself, you would be better off calling a professional bed bug exterminator to handle the situation for you.

These insecticides can take effect in as little as a few hours. For larger infestations, pest management professionals might use fumigation.

Vacuum cleaners (a pet-safe alternative)

Another safe bet to rid your bed of these pests is to rely on a handy vacuum cleaner. This method may not yield perfect results or even results as good as a quality pest control spray treatment would, but it is still effective in getting rid of bed bugs and the eggs laid by the females.

Simply run the vacuum cleaner over the infested items before tossing them into the washing machine. Vacuum cleaners are also a pet-safe method to use when dealing with bed bugs!

Use heat in your laundry.

When you wash clothes in your washing machine, be sure to use hot water in the washer. After completing your washing cycles, you should also make full use of the dryer.

The heat that the fabric would get subjected to might just be enough to kill the bed bugs for good. Once again, this method may not be entirely effective, but it is still a great way to get rid of smaller bed bug infestations!

Store your luggage and blankets properly

If you’re going to be storing something away in your cupboards for a long time, you should store them in zipped bags to prevent these bugs from infesting the items.

The last thing you’d want is to take your winter blanket out of storage and allow bed bugs to enjoy their blood meal over the night!

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.