One thing we can certainly appreciate about the drab days of winter is the seeming lack of insects: Most of these annoying creatures tend to hibernate, migrate, or die off.
So does that mean we can expect to be safe – even take a break – from the persistent threat of a bed bug infestation?
Unfortunately it is a misconception that bed bugs do not exist in the winter months mostly because these flat-bodied parasites take refuge in the warm crevices of indoor environs and cannot be obliterated in colder temperatures unless the environment in which the bed bug lives is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold temperature alone are not enough to kill the insect: It must be this cold for an extended period, sometimes as long as 30 days.
This most certainly does not describe an indoor environment, unless that environment were a deep freezer.
So how about tossing the infested “habitat” – say an infested suitcase or couch – out of doors in the winter cold for a period of time?
The answer is no.
The reality is winter temperatures fluctuate and rarely stay consistently at any one temperature for an extended period. Besides, the infested item (sofa, bed, etc.) is likely to provide some degree of warmth for the critters and enable them to survive.
Overall death by excessive heat is the most reliable method of destroying bed bugs when compared to freezing. Excessive heat is the preferred method of destroying all life phases of bed bugs, from egg to mature adult.
So how hot do temperatures need to be to destroy a bed bug?
The most timely research shows the thermal death-point is determined by time of exposure and temperature. Bed bugs exposed to a temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit will die only if they are in that temperature for 90 minutes or longer. Increase the temperature and the bugs will die more quickly – as early as 20 minutes utilizing temperatures of 118 degrees Fahrenheit ! Spreading the heat around a large space is relatively easy: It can be done with the aid of powerful fans and use of hard working bed bug heat technicians.
Heat has become such a preferred method of killing bed bugs that professionals have broadened the scope of devices and methods of heat treatment. Portable heating devices can be purchased for smaller items, from suitcases to CD’s. Scientists have even created heat chambers to enclose and focus heat elements on larger items, like sofas.
However, the best and most successful method of heat elimination is hiring highly experienced professionals who utilize high quality equipment and understand precise temperature ranges that will effectively rid of the pests, yet not destroy furniture and treasured items.