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The temperatures of winter can drop to bone-chilling levels. Surely enduring the brutal cold would pay off in reduced bed bug populations, right? Not necessarily. These persistent pests are more resilient than you may think. They have found ways to adapt to unfavorable conditions, making them even more difficult to get rid of. Luckily, Ehrlich Pest Control Technicians are ready to fight them off in any season. We are taking a deeper look into what winter means for bed bug infestations.
Because bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and animals, they like to be, as a beloved mermaid once said, “where the people are.” Bed bugs prefer temperatures around 70-80℉, and it is in this temperature range that they are able to most successfully (and quickly) reproduce and progress through growth stages. Both extreme heat and cold can be used to kill bed bugs, but the temperatures must be intense to have an effect.
Cold temperatures can kill bed bugs if they are severe and prolonged enough. If bed bugs are exposed to temperatures at or below 0℉ for a period of approximately four days, they will die. Female adult bed bugs are even hardier than the rest. Female adult bed bugs have a supercooling point, the temperature at which the bug will freeze, of around -20℃ or -4℉. Though bed bugs can survive at low temperatures, the article also states that development may be halted at temperatures below 50℉, meaning bed bugs may remain in nymphal stages until the environment is warmer.
Bed bugs spend their time indoors if they can help it. Therefore, outdoor temperatures may not always have a significant impact on them. If they are exposed to cold temperatures, they will go dormant to conserve energy.
Even extreme cold will likely not kill bed bugs right away. Home freezers often do not reach temperatures severe enough to kill bed bugs quickly, so freezing time will probably need to be extended. Additionally, internal temperatures of these freezers may fluctuate, especially with frequent opening and closing. Deep-freezing at temperatures below -30℃ or -22℉ for three to four days is most effective in killing bed bugs when it comes to cold treatments.
Even if bed bugs do survive cold temperatures, studies have found egg production and hatching success to be reduced. That being the case, cold temperatures are not completely useless when it comes to eradicating a bed bug population.
Bed bugs do not hide away in a cave for months like bears do, but they can enter a state of semi-hibernation, called diapause. Diapause is an interval of energy conservation and slowed metabolism that enables bed bugs to go dormant, surviving without feeding for months. Bed bugs may enter diapause at temperatures below 61℉ in an effort to endure suboptimal conditions until said conditions improve. Even in this state, extreme cold can kill bed bugs if temperatures dip low enough.
Winter calls for flannel sheets and cuddling up by the fire. Unfortunately, bed bugs like the warmth too. All of the extra blankets and thick sheets only give bed bugs more places to hide. Not to mention, when it’s so cold outside, humans generally prefer to stay inside. With their human hosts posting up in a climate-controlled environment for the winter months, bed bugs have extended access to a delicious blood meal.
Additionally, studies have shown that bed bugs have a preference for certain colors over others, particularly red and black. As two of the primary colors of flannel, red and black show up quite a bit in the colder seasons. Whether it is clothing, blankets, or home decor, red and black often align with winter trends.
Bed bugs don’t have an offseason. If you suspect that you have a bed bug problem, call Ehrlich right away. Our pest specialists are bed bug experts and they can get rid of your bed bug infestation for good.
Learn more about bed bugs in our Essential Guide to Bed Bugs!