It’s very discouraging when you use the commercial as well as DIY bed bug solutions but still have bed bugs crawling in your house.
Perhaps you could be wondering whether bed bugs have natural predators which can used to control their population. So, What eats bed bugs?
If you need a quick answer, bed bugs have many natural predictors that will readily kill and eat them. For example, spiders, cockroaches, masked hunters, house centipedes – Some are household pests.
So, let’s get started!
What Eats Bed Bugs?
Unfortunately, the use of natural predators will not have a significant effect on the bed bug population.
This is because natural predators have other sources of food and will therefore not go hunting for bed bugs. In addition, bed bugs reproduce rapidly. So, it’s difficult for predators to wipe them out.
1. The Masked Hunter
The masked hunters have been characteristically named the masked bedbug hunters because of their tendency to hunt and feed on bed bugs.
Standing at between 17 and 22 mm long, masked hunters are non-native to the United States, but have spread across many states.
Their color ranges from dark brown to black and have wings for flying. Masked hunters typically inhabit warm places. In cold areas they live indoors, where they feed on bed bugs, house arthropods among other small creatures.
You are likely to see masked hunters in areas inhabited by pigeons and bats. This is because pigeons and bats harbor bed bugs and other creatures that make their diet. Though masked hunters feed on bed bugs, you shouldn’t imagine of having them in your house!
They’ll bite even humans, especially around the mouth. That’s why they are sometimes called ‘the kissing bug’. Their bite is as painful as a bee sting.
Roaches are very fond of eating bed bugs and their eggs. In fact roaches will eat anything from food crumbs, wood, paper, glue, trash, the list is endless.
Standing at between 1 and 3 inches long, roaches outsize bed bugs and can move very fast, making it easy to run after the bed bugs. However, not all roaches eat bed bug. The most common bed bug eating roaches include the American roach, The German roach and the oriental roach.
Although cockroaches can eat a great deal of bed bugs, there’re good reasons for not relying on them to eradicate bed bugs in your house. These are:
- Bed bugs reproduce more rapidly than roaches. Thus they’ll grow quickly to replenish their population.
- Roaches are pesky pest you don’t want to have around. Apart from causing a lot of mess in your house, they can be possible carriers of diseases like salmonella.
- Cockroaches are difficult and expensive to get rid of.
Spiders are natural predators of bed bugs, mosquitoes, flies and many other small creatures. Some spiders make webs in different corners of the house to trap and eat small creatures that crawl or fly nearby.
Others like the Philodromid Crab Spiders are swift enough to track and run after the bed bugs. Although some spiders are poisonous, many of them are naturally harmless and will feed on most of the nagging house pests including bed bugs.
Spiders that are known to eat bed bugs include, the Philodromid Crab Spiders, Cellar spiders, jumping spider and the Cobweb spider.
Usually, spiders don’t chew their prey. Instead, they paralyze their prey and consume it with their digestive juices.
Similar to other natural predators, spiders will neither be a good option for eradicating bed bugs. This is because:
- Spiders eat a host of other insects. So, they won’t go hunting for bed bugs in your house.
- Though usually harmless, spiders are scary to have around.
- Their cobwebs make your house untidy
- Some spiders are poisonous
Many ant species love sweet foods like honeydew but will also ants feed on small creatures including bed bugs to add protein to their diet.
The most common bed bug eating ants include the pharaoh ant, fire ants and the argentine ant. But the pharaoh ant has been documented to be especially notorious for eating bed bugs.
However, given the elusive nature of bed bugs, ants will have a hard time getting them. So you expect that ants will not significantly reduce the bed bug population.
In addition, most ants prefer to feed on carcasses rather than hunting down their prey. Another limitation for using ants to eradicate bed bugs is that they reproduce rapidly just like the bed bugs.
So, in a matter of time, you could have an ant infestation which will need extra costs to eradicate.
5. House Centipedes
House centipedes are natural predators for most household pests including roaches, spiders, moths, bed bugs among other small creatures.
Standing at between 5 and 150 mm long and with between 15 to 175 pairs of legs, these arachnids are very good at hunting.
Their rather flat configuration allows them to get through tiny spaces or cracks where bed bugs usually hide and breed. Plus they can move swiftly compared to bed bugs
Although centipedes have a good chance of feeding on bed bugs, you will need a host of them to have any impact on the fast growing bed bug population.
However, having too many centipedes crawling around the house can be very irritating. Furthermore, they can bite humans in defence.
Lizards are natural predators of insects including bed bugs. Their diet is essentially composed of insects and arachnids. That’s why lizards hang around places infested with insects such as lavatory, kitchen and store house.
Luckily, lizards are harmless and some of their species are usually kept as pets. But again you will need a host of lizards to eradicate the bed bugs in your house.
A large number of lizards can be quite disturbing. Plus their body size prevents them from running after bed bugs in narrow spaces where they hide most of the time.
Can Natural Predators Help Eradicate Bed Bugs?
You have seen that there’re many natural predators that can be used to feed on bed bugs in your house.
Although these predators can eat a significant population of bed bugs, they can’t be relied on to eradicate the bed begs. Compared to other bed bug control methods, natural predators have a number of limitations. These include:
1. Cannot Eliminate Entire Bed Bug Population
As you have noticed, most of the predators feed on several other creatures apart from bed bugs. That means, they don’t go looking for bed bugs in their hiding places.
Predators feed on bed bugs that come in the open. Therefore, they cannot significantly reduce the number of bed bugs in your home.
2. Bed Bugs Reproduce and Spread Rapidly
Compared to their predators, bed bugs breed and multiply rapidly. On average, an adult can lay up to 12 eggs every day or 500 eggs in its lifetime.
Thus, it doesn’t take long before a few bed bugs grow and become an infestation. If you rely on natural predators, bed bugs will breed quickly and overwhelm them.
3. You’ll Be Surrounded by Too Many Pests
In order for natural predators to have any impact on the bed bugs in your house, you need to have enough of these creatures.
This means that you’ll be surrounded by a host of other creatures like roaches, spiders, centipedes, masked hunters among others.
Most of these predators are pesky pests that will wreak havoc in your house on top of your bed bug menace.
Some of them are carriers of diseases such as dysentery and salmonella. Others will destroy your property and make your house very untidy.
You might not escape bits from predators like spiders, masked hunters or centipedes. What’s more, bed bugs hide in narrow spaces inside mattresses and sofa set. You definitely don’t want these creatures around these places.
4. Natural Predators Cannot Control Infestation
Usually, bed bugs breed in difficult-to-reach areas. So, it would very hard for predators to feed on their eggs and larvae.
In addition not all of the predators mentioned above will feed on bed bug eggs. Thus, natural predators cannot be used to prevent bed bugs from breeding
5. Cost of Eradicating Natural Predators is High.
If you introduce natural predators to feed on bed bugs you will be creating another pest problem in your house. Similar to bed bugs, many of these predators reproduce rapidly, meaning they can easily become an infestation.
The cost of eradicating these predators is also high. Even worse, some predators like roaches can be as hard to eradicate as the bed bugs.
Although natural predators can be used to feed on bed bugs, they are not reliable methods for eradicating an infestation.
You can however use the available commercial bed bug treatments or apply the do-it-yourself procedures to get rid of bed bugs in your house.
You can use chemical sprays such as permethrin, encasements and diatomaceous earth among others.
- Bed Bugs: Clinical Relevance and Control Options – NCBI
- Bed Bugs | Entomology
- Let’s Beat the Bed Bug!
- Bed Bug Management Guidelines–UC IPM
- Bedbugs beware: New research may beat back bedbug epidemic