Picture this: it’s late at night, and you’re finally ready to crawl into bed after a long day. But just as you get comfortable, you feel a small, prickly sensation on your skin. Suddenly, you realize with horror that you’ve been invaded by bed bugs.
These tiny pests are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and many people wonder if they can simply freeze them out. After all, cold temperatures can kill off many other insects, so why not bed bugs?
In this article, we will explore whether bed bugs can die in the cold and, if so, what temperature is required to eliminate them.
Does Cold Kill Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs can be killed by cold temperatures provided that they are severe and sustained for a sufficient period.
If bed bugs are exposed to temperatures equal to or below 0℉ for about four days, they will perish.
Moreover, according to a publication from the Yale University School of Public Health, female adult bed bugs are even more resilient than others.
Female adult bed bugs have a supercooling point of approximately -20℃ or -4℉, which is the temperature at which the bug will freeze.
Although bed bugs can survive at low temperatures, the article also suggests that their growth may be stunted at temperatures below 50℉, and they may remain in nymphal stages until the surroundings become warmer.
Will Freezing Temperatures During the Winter Kill Bed Bugs?
A lot of homeowners are contemplating leaving their infested possessions outside in the chilly climate, hoping that the freezing temperature would exterminate the bed bugs. However, we advise against this course of action.
To begin with, bed bugs can only be efficiently eradicated when exposed to temperatures equal to or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nevertheless, when bed bugs are exposed to temperatures just a few degrees above 0, they can enter a hibernation state, which enhances their survival chances.
Additionally, most states don’t typically experience temperatures at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moreover, it’s improbable that the items themselves would cool to such low temperatures due to the insulating properties provided by their construction.
To completely eliminate a cluster of bed bugs, particularly their nymphs and eggs, it’s necessary to sustain a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below for a minimum of 80 hours.
Given that even the coldest climates tend to rise above that temperature during the day, leaving infested items outside would not suffice. This is due to the considerable variation in outdoor weather conditions.
In theory, you could eliminate bed bugs by placing infested items in your freezer.
However, this method would be somewhat impractical since you must ensure that your freezer maintains a temperature at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and the items must remain in there for a minimum of 80 hours.
Do Bed Bugs Like Heat Or Cold?
Bed bugs have a preference for being in places where humans and animals are located, as they feed on their blood. As a famous mermaid once said, “Where the people are.”
These insects thrive in temperatures ranging from 70-80℉, allowing them to reproduce quickly and progress through growth stages.
Although both high and low temperatures can be used to exterminate bed bugs, the temperatures must be extreme to have any effect.
Do Bed Bugs Hibernate In The Winter?
Unlike bears, which hibernate in caves for months, bed bugs can undergo a state of semi-hibernation known as diapause.
During diapause, bed bugs can conserve energy and reduce their metabolism to a state of dormancy, allowing them to survive for months without feeding.
Bed bugs may enter diapause when temperatures fall below 61℉, as a survival mechanism to endure unfavorable conditions until they improve.
However, even in this state, bed bugs are vulnerable to extreme cold temperatures, which can cause their demise if the temperature drops too low.
Can Bed Bugs Survive The Cold?
Bed bugs prefer to spend their time indoors, so outdoor temperatures may not have a significant impact on them. If exposed to cold temperatures, bed bugs will go into a state of dormancy to conserve energy.
However, even extreme cold may not kill bed bugs immediately. Home freezers may not reach temperatures low enough to quickly eradicate bed bugs, so freezing time may need to be extended.
In addition, the internal temperatures of freezers may fluctuate, especially when opened and closed frequently.
Therefore, deep-freezing bed bugs at temperatures below -30℃ or -22℉ for three to four days is the most effective cold treatment to kill them.
Although bed bugs can survive cold temperatures, studies have shown that their egg production and hatching success rate decrease significantly. Thus, cold treatments can still be useful in eradicating a bed bug population.
Smaller Chance Of A New Infestation
Bed bugs are typically found indoors, which provides them with the necessary warmth to survive during the winter months.
As long as they have access to a source of nourishment and warmth, they can remain active in your home throughout the year. If they are deprived of food, they can survive for several months without feeding.
The good news is that although bed bugs can remain active during the winter, the chances of a new infestation occurring are slightly lower than during the summer months when bed bugs are most active.
While bed bugs can survive in cold temperatures for short periods, they are less likely to hitch a ride with someone traveling from place to place and more inclined to stay in the warmth of the place they have already infested.
Temperature That Kills Bed Bugs
The application of heat can also be used to eliminate bed bugs. Adult bed bugs can be killed at a temperature of 119 degrees Fahrenheit, while their heat-resistant eggs require even higher temperatures of 125 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Some infested items can be placed in the oven and safely heated to these temperatures for three to five hours to eliminate the pests. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety when considering this treatment option.
Alternative methods such as frozen carbon dioxide sprays and heat distribution systems are available, but they require specialized equipment and expert monitoring.
During the winter season, it’s common to snuggle up by the fire with flannel sheets. However, bed bugs are attracted to the warmth, and the additional blankets and thick sheets provide them with more places to hide.
Furthermore, when the temperature drops outside, people tend to stay indoors, providing bed bugs with extended access to a source of nourishment in a climate-controlled environment.
Research has indicated that bed bugs exhibit a preference for certain colors, specifically red and black. As these two colors are commonly used in winter-themed items such as flannel clothing, blankets, and home decor, they may inadvertently attract bed bugs.