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Do Bed Bugs Hibernate? A Guide to Bed Bugs in Winter and Prevention Tips

bed bugs in winter

About 20 years ago bed bugs made a resurgence. Now, they’re quite common to find across the United States. Bed bugs can infest your home and become a nightmare. 

You go to sleep thinking you’re safe but wake up with an irritating rash. The problem is, as the infestation grows, so does that rash.

You’d think during the winter months you’d be safe from these nasty little critters, but are you? Below we’ll explore bed bugs in winter and if you can ever escape them. 

Do Bed Bugs Hibernate?

Unfortunately, bed bugs are inescapable even during the winter months. They go through what is known as diapause. In this state, bed bugs will enter a dormant period where they’ll halt their development.

All it takes for bed bugs to wake up is warmth.

Can Bed Bugs Withstand the Cold? 

Bed bugs love temperatures between 77-90°F (21-37°C). Once we get into even lower temperatures (e.g. 50°F/10°C and lower) is when we start seeing them head into a dormant state.

Male bed bugs can die if they’re exposed to 0°F (-17°C) for a prolonged period (around 4 days). Female bed bugs can be more resilient. You may need to get as low as -4°F (-20°C) to kill them off.

Exposing bed bugs to temperatures of -22°F (-30°C) is the best way to kill bed bugs off quickly. 

Keep in mind that not only extreme cold can kill bed bugs, but also extreme heat.

Preventing Bed Bugs in Winter

Now that you know you can get bed bugs in winter, it’s time to find out how to prevent them.

Cut Down on Clutter

Reduce the number of places bed bugs can hide by having a clean home. There are many great hiding spaces in your bedroom alone. For example, open boxes under your bed, clutter on dressers, nightstands, and bed frames.

If you have bed bugs in your mattress you can place a special encasement over your mattress and box spring. You can also get these encasements for your pillowcases. 

Leave the covering on for a little over a year, making sure there are no tears. Bed bugs can live without food for up to 18 months.

If you have bed bugs, when you have a cluttered home it can make it difficult to locate where the bed bugs are living.

Clean Your Bedding and Clothes

Your sheets, blankets, and pillowcases are all at risk of containing bed bugs and eggs. This also applies to any clothing that winds up on your floor, hamper, and laundry basket. Make sure to regularly clean all your bedding, clothing, and laundry baskets/hampers.

When you go to dry your clothes/blankets tumble dry it on high heat. This should effectively kill off any remaining bugs/eggs.

Check Your Luggage

After coming back from a trip check your luggage for droppings or tiny bloodstains. Bed bugs may have hitched a ride, or least their eggs may have. Use a vacuum attachment to clean out the corners of your luggage.

Immediately wash any add all clothing, then tumble dry it on high heat.

Even if you’re not sure you have bed bugs in your luggage these are easy steps to take to ensure you won’t have an outbreak.

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum!

Vacuuming is a great way to reduce and prevent the spread of bed bugs. Carpeted floors, rugs, and upholstered furniture should be vacuumed.

Moreover, everything connected to and surrounding your bed. Vacuum your bed frame, mattress, under your bed, around its legs, behind your nightstands, and so on.

Make sure to vacuum around the edges, and especially the corners, of your rooms as well.

Once you are done vacuuming make sure the contents end up in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Immediately place that bag in your trash bin outside of your home.

Containment Is a Must

If your home is infested don’t move elsewhere. You’ll end up bringing the infestation with you, and you’re giving the new family that would move in the same problem.

If you live in an apartment complex, or are renting your home, notify your landlord. They may be able to help you with the situation.

Moreover, they can alert any potential other tenants of the issue. This will allow them to take preventative measures and check to see if anyone else has bed bugs.

If removing the bed bugs is impossible you may have to get rid of the furniture. Take extra steps in case someone else tries to salvage your furniture. You can remove its stuffing, slash/tear it up, or use spray paint on it stating it has bed bugs.

Use Extreme Heat or Cold

Bed bugs can be killed at very high and low temperatures. For the high-heat method, bed bugs are killed at 113°F (45°C). 

You can try using hand-held steamers on cracks, crevices, and corners. If using a steamer, you may want to dry the area after use to avoid mold growth or wood rot. Alternately, as stated prior you can use your dryer.

Keep in mind that you need to apply the heat for about an hour for it to be effective. Be careful when using other methods to create heat as you can cause damage to your home and yourself.

Freezing is another way you can kill off bed bugs. If you can consistently keep your freezer at 0°F (-17°C) you can kill off bed bugs that way. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of your freezer to make sure it’s cold enough.

If All Else Fails, Try Pesticides

You can attempt to use pesticides but be careful as some types can be harmful to you and your children. What’s more, bed bugs have become quite resistant to many varieties of pesticides. They probably won’t help you as much as you’d like.

If you choose to use pesticides, check to see how your specific pesticide should be used. Above all else, don’t use an outdoor pesticide indoors.  

Hire a Professional

If you don’t want to deal with the bed bugs yourself, or if the above options haven’t worked for you, that’s ok. You can always enlist the help of a professional.

A professional will be able to determine what type of treatment is needed. They can also establish what types of pesticides should be used (if any).

A professional will be able to check up on your home annually to ensure you don’t have a bed bug problem.

Are You Safe from Bed Bugs in Winter? 

Now that we’ve reviewed bed bugs in winter, it’s time for you to check your home. Do you have bed bugs? Have you been practicing preventive measures already? 

Don’t let bed bugs rule your home. Get ahead of them before they become a problem. 

Review our blog to learn how to deal with all sorts of pests during winter.