Do you wake up with mysterious bug bites that itch and irritate your skin? Have you been noticing strange black or reddish-brown bugs in the seams of your mattress or furniture?
If so, chances are you may have a bed bug infestation. But can bed bugs survive the cold? Keep on reading to find out more!
Which Environmental Settings Do Bed Bugs Thrive In?
Bed bugs are quite adaptable, but there are specific conditions where they particularly flourish. Understanding these environments is crucial if you want to prevent or control an infestation.
- Temperature: Bed bugs prefer temperatures between 65° and 85° F. Your bedroom often offers this ideal range, making it a common battleground for bed bug activity.
- Feeding availability: Just like any other living creature, these pests need a consistent food source to survive — primarily human blood. Therefore, places with regular human presence, such as homes, hotels, or shelters, are perfect for them.
- Hiding spots: They love to nestle in tight, hidden spaces. This includes mattress seams, bed frames, behind wall art, and even in electronic devices.
|Preferred Hiding Spots
|65° – 85° F
|High human occupancy areas
|Small crevices and fabric
Remember, while bed bugs have a preference for warmth, they can also endure lower temperatures by entering a sort of hibernation mode where they remain dormant until it’s warm enough to be active again.
Can Bed Bugs Survive The Cold?
Bed bugs are known for their resilience and are often a concern when it comes to household pests. You might be wondering how these tiny creatures fare in cold temperatures.
Bed bugs can withstand cold environments, but their survival and development are affected by how low and for how long they’re exposed to the cold.
Here are some important points to remember:
- Bed bugs cannot develop at temperatures below 50℉ (10℃); their growth halts in colder conditions.
- To effectively kill bed bugs using cold, they need to be exposed to temperatures at or below 0°F (-18°C), and even then, it requires an extended period—several days to a week—to be effective.
- If you’re contemplating using your home freezer as a method to exterminate bed bugs, consider that standard kitchen freezers may not be practical for large or bulky items. Furthermore, the process is lengthy, often taking days, and there’s the inconvenience of storing potentially infested items alongside your food.
- While cold can eventually kill bed bugs, they often reside indoors where temperatures are much warmer and conducive to their survival.
Does Freezing Cold Weather Effects Bed Bugs?
You might be wondering if the chill in the air could be a natural solution to a bed bug problem.
It turns out that freezing temperatures can indeed have an impact on bed bugs, but it’s not as straightforward as you might hope.
Bed bugs are tough creatures. They’ve adapted over time to withstand various environments. When it comes to cold weather, bed bugs can survive to an extent.
Research shows that bed bugs can endure temperatures well below freezing. However, for the cold to effectively kill them, the temperature needs to be:
- Below -30℃ (-22℉)
- Maintained for 3-4 days
This prolonged exposure is crucial because bed bugs can lower the freezing point of their bodily fluids, giving them a form of antifreeze that allows them to survive brief cold spells.
Eggs are also resistant but less so than adults. A significant drop in egg production and hatching success occurs when exposed to cold weather, but this doesn’t guarantee complete extermination.
For a successful cold treatment, it is essential that the bed bugs cannot escape from the chilly conditions.
Even so, professional extermination methods might be more reliable than relying on cold weather alone to deal with an infestation.
If you’re seeking a home solution, remember that simply turning down your thermostat won’t do the job—you’d need to reach extremely cold temperatures that are impractical and unsafe in a home setting.
Can Freezing Bed Bugs Kill Bed Bugs?
When you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation, you might have encountered the suggestion to use cold temperatures as a method of eradication.
Indeed, bed bugs can be killed through freezing, but there are specific conditions that need to be met to ensure the process is effective.
Bed bugs are resilient creatures that manage to conserve energy by going dormant in colder temperatures, but they aren’t indestructible.
To kill bed bugs by freezing, household items such as bedding or clothing can be put in sealed plastic bags and placed in a freezer.
However, the freezer must be at 0°F (-18°C) for at least four consecutive days to ensure the bugs, including eggs, are completely eradicated.
Here are some important points to consider:
- Temperature: The freezer must reach 0°F (-18°C).
- Time: Expose bed bugs to these freezing temperatures for a minimum of four days.
- Enclosure: Items should be placed in sealed plastic bags before freezing.
Be mindful of the fact that while freezing can be effective for items that can fit in a freezer, it is impractical for treating an entire home.
How To Use Extreme Temperatures To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are pests that can be quite resilient, but like many organisms, they have their vulnerabilities. Extreme temperatures can effectively eliminate them if applied correctly.
When utilizing cold, you need to be patient. Experts recommend keeping items at 0°F for at least 4 days to kill bed bugs, but they may survive longer at 20°F.
A more reliable cold treatment is deep-freezing at temperatures below -22°F for 3 to 4 days.
For heat treatment, things are a little faster. Heating your belongings to 131°F will kill bed bugs within a few hours, while a temperature of 140°F can eradicate them in all life stages after just as long.
Heat treatment can often be done with specialized equipment such as a steamer or heater. Here’s how to apply these temperatures safely:
Using Cold to Kill Bed Bugs:
- Seal items in plastic bags to contain the bugs and avoid re-infestation.
- Place the sealed bags in a freezer at 0°F or colder for at least 4 days.
- For quicker results, ensure that the freezer is at -22°F and leave items for 3-4 days.
Using Heat to Kill Bed Bugs:
- Wash infested fabrics (like bedding) in hot water and then use a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.
- Employ a professional heat treatment service that can raise room temperatures to kill bed bugs in situ.
- Use a steam cleaner on mattresses, furniture, and other non-washable items.
Are There Any Seasons Where Bed Bugs Go Away?
While you might hope that these uninvited guests take a hiatus, bed bugs unfortunately do not have a particular season in which they completely disappear.
Bed bugs are indoor pests and are quite adaptable to indoor temperatures in homes, apartments, and hotels, which means they remain active year-round.
However, their activity and reproduction do slow down in cooler temperatures.
Winter months may show a reduced rate of infestation, not because they go away, but because they are less active in lower temperatures. For example:
- Below 50℉: Bed bug development may be halted.
- At 0℉ (-17.78°C): Bed bugs, if placed in a freezer, can be killed after at least 4 days.
Can Bed Bugs Hibernate During the Winter Months to Escape the Cold?
No, bed bugs, unlike some pests such as ticks, ants, and rodents do not hibernate or enter diapause (a state of suspended development) during cold winter months. They remain active all year round as long as they have a food source.
Is It Possible to Still Get a Bed Bug Infestation During the Winter?
Yes, even in the cold winter, you can still get a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are not dependent on the weather as they are indoor pests and can survive and reproduce in a warm indoor environment even if it’s freezing outside.
Bed bugs can survive cold temperatures but their survival and development are affected by how low and for how long they’re exposed to the cold.
To effectively kill bed bugs using cold, they need to be exposed to temperatures at or below 0°F (-18°C), and even then, it requires an extended period—several days to a week—to be effective.
Freezing may provide a practical home solution, but it is often impractical and time-consuming. Heat treatments can work faster but require professional treatment.
Bed bugs do not hibernate during winter months, so it’s possible to get a bed bug infestation all year round.