The cold weather is here and it’s time to bundle up in your thick sweaters and scarves when you head outside. While we cozy up under our blankets, the pests that bother us in summer have largely disappeared leaving us alone until spring. But what about bed bugs?
Do bed bugs die in winter?
Bed bugs die in winter, right? Sadly, no. This parasite is a lot tougher than many insects and it would need constantly freezing conditions for a whole month to have any effect. Do you like the idea of having your home that cold for that long? And we are talking really cold. A study has shown you need a temperature of -13℉ for a sustained period. Now, that is cold!
We’re Warm, So They’re Warm
While a lot of bugs get through the cold months by hibernating or migrating, bed bugs just stay where it’s warm – in human habitation. What is comfortable for you is perfect for bed bugs. When it gets cold, we turn up the heating, and these critters don’t even know it’s winter.
That’s why bed bugs are so successful. Because they live with humans they share their environment and are not affected by a downturn in temperature. The truth is, in most parts of the world, it is rare for the temperature to fall below 0℉ for 30 days in a row even in the middle of winter. Even if bed bugs thrived out of doors they would be unlikely to succumb to the cold, it just doesn’t get that cold for that long.
If you have a bed bug infestation in the fall, you will still have it in spring. The small apple pip-shaped adults will continue to reproduce just as they would do when it’s warm outside. The eggs will hatch, the nymphs will grow, and any adults that die naturally will be replaced.
So How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
In fact, if you want to deal with a bed bug infestation, it is not the cold you should be looking at, but heat. It used to be that anyone looking to eradicate these blood-sucking pests would turn to chemicals. They worked… sort of.
Insecticides do destroy bed bugs, but only the bed bugs it touches. Killing off an infestation often requires multiple visits, and, even then, total eradication is not guaranteed. It is very difficult to spray every nook and cranny in a house and you only need to miss one small area where bed bugs are sheltering for the problem to reoccur. On top of that, these chemicals are not very friendly to other living things and need careful handling.
The best method of killing every bed bug in a home or business is heat. Raising the temperature to 118℉ (47.8°C) for 20 minutes will destroy the adults, and in 90 minutes destroy the eggs, too.
Why is heat so effective?
The reasons why heat treatment is the industry-standard method of control are that bed bugs can’t hide away from it and heat kills all stages in the parasite’s life cycle: eggs, nymphs, and adults. All in one visit.
Cold won’t kill bed bugs but heat will. Heat is the only certain way to ensure that every bed bug and every egg is destroyed and the infestation is defeated. While a pest control company may well suggest a residual chemical treatment, it should always be as a backup to heat treatment.
Struggling with bed bugs in winter?
If you’re struggling with bed bugs even in the depths of winter, don’t panic. One visit by a pest professional to do a heat treatment will destroy any bed bugs and their eggs in a room or building. If you’re in Arizona, we’re here to help. Whether you know you’ve got bed bugs or just suspect you do, we’ll come to do a free assessment of your home and give you advice on your next steps. To find out more, click here.