As bed bug populations rise within the United States, people are looking for any bit of relief or condition that would allow them to be free of these pests. Unfortunately, these hardy insects can survive even within the most extreme weather conditions, like the polar vertex that has swept over the country. They are known withstand temperatures well below freezing and triumph through temperatures reaching just above 100 degrees.
Can Bed Bugs Survive in the Cold?
Bed bugs have an very high cold tolerance and are able to withstand freezing temperatures. They can remain functional at temperatures as low as 46°F and they can remain alive at temperatures even lower. Bed bugs are able to manipulate the freezing point of their bodily fluids, which allows them to thrive in the cold for several days. According to the Journal of Economic Entomology, a minimum exposure time of 85 hours, or 7 days, at 5°F is required for 100% mortality of all life stages. The exposure time decreases for temperatures below 3.2°F. So the lower the temperature, the faster they will die.
Is Freezing a Valid Bed Bug Extermination Process?
Freezing will definitely kill bed bugs, however it is not commonly used in a direct sense as a bed bug removal process due to the amount of time and practicality of freezing a location for several days. In order for the extermination process to be effective you would have to use a consistent low temperature [ < -4°F] for several days or below -15°F if you wish to exterminate them in 24 hours.
You would also have to consider the time it would take for center of items such as furniture and bedding to reach a freezing temperatures. You would have to wait until these spots reach the ideal temperature of below 0°F and begin the timing for two days starting then.
Some pest control professionals do freeze bed bugs efficiently by using specialized equipment that generates particles of “snow” from carbon dioxide. It is the same element used to put carbonation in soft drinks. Instead of bed bugs having the time to adjust their body treatment, this will initially shock their system. This bed bug removal process is only able to work if the bed bugs are in sight, so if there are bed bugs hiding in the baseboards or walls they would not be affected, therefore not ending your infestation.
Will They Survive the Polar Vortex?
Bed bug seek comfort, like us, in a nice warm bed inside of your home, so most of the bed bug population will survive this year’s polar vortex. If we are lucky, a few stragglers may find themselves outside seeking a new victim and may become less active. In Cleveland OH, the temperatures will not be low enough for an extended period of time to cause any damage. Although, Chicago, with their record setting temperatures of -46°F, might see a slight decline in bed bug population with their near Antarctica temperatures.
Do not attempt to freeze your apartment or home by opening the windows and turning off the heat. The health and safety risk is too high and you will not kill any bed bugs.
Although bed bugs may survive this year’s polar vortex, make sure you do too by staying warm! Our hearts go out to those that have to work in these extreme conditions. Stay warm and safe, Cleveland!