Which insects eat bed bugs?

Written by mary johnson-gerard, ph.d.
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Which insects eat bed bugs?
Control bed bugs with common household insects (Getty Thinkstock)

Bedbugs are nocturnal insects that feed on blood. They are characterised by very small, flat, oval shaped bodies that are dark red in colour. They fatten up after they have eaten and have been compared to a small lentil in appearance. Bed bugs hide in mass quantities any place they can find. They will hid in your bed frame, curtains, under carpets and rugs, mouldings, cracks in the wall and even peeling wall paper. Controlling bed bugs is a difficult task as they lay hundreds of eggs called "nymphs" that hatch in only five days. Pesticide is one method of controlling bed bugs, however, there are other natural methods available. The insects most commonly known to eat bed bugs are the house centipede, masked assassin and fire ant.

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House Centipede

The house centipede is a common insect found in North American homes. They are known for their brown or grey colouring with 15 pairs of legs. They move quickly and feed on other insects in the home including bed bugs. House centipedes do not pose any threat to humans but their presence usually means the home has a pest infestation. If your home already hosts house centipedes and you acquire a bed bug infestation, then they should help. Bringing them into your home simply to eat bed bugs may give you another infestation as their lifespan is seven years and they can live off of other bugs in the home.

Masked Assassin

Assassin bugs are marked by their long bodies. They can be up to 3/4 inch long and come in a variety of colours. They have wider abdomens than the rest of their bodies and their wings don't often cover the widest part of the abdomen. The masked assassin bugs that are found in houses are also known as masked hunters or masked bed bug hunters. They are brown or black in colour and hunt bed bugs as a primary food source. They are harmful to humans as they will bite and cause a painful wound; the pain may last for a couple of days. If you have them in your house already they should help with bed bug infestation, but it is not recommended your bring them in specifically for this purpose.

Fire Ants

Fire ants are primarily located in the Southwest and come in three species. All species are similar in appearance ranging between 1/10 to 1/3 of an inch long. They are orangery-red or dark brown in colour. Fire ants in southern California are the reddest species. Fire ants are extremely aggressive and swarm a person or animal in large groups and sting profusely. Their stings are very painful and can cause allergic reactions in some people. They do live in houses sometimes in the kitchens and walls. Their diet is primarily insects, vegetation and seeds. They eat beg bugs, but as they are extremely aggressive to humans when disturbed it is not recommended they are allowed to stay or are brought into a home for this purpose.

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