It’s a new year, and that means a good many of us will be moving into a long cold stretch of winter. The days are short and the nights are long; and the temperatures are sure to dip closer to the single digits before we can celebrate the coming of spring. In other words – ”brrrrrrr”.
But what does the chill of winter mean to bed bugs? It seems only natural that winter should result in a dip in bed bug activity. That the cold should give us all some respite from these blood sucking insects. But does the cold really have any impact on the bed bug’s behavior? Do colder temperatures in any way impact bed bug activity, and can they halt the spread of these pernicious parasites?
Well, let’s find out.
Are Bed Bugs Active in Winter?
When temperatures drop many insects, such as flies, mosquitoes and beetles, go into a form of hibernation. So it makes sense to wonder if bed bugs might not do the same. Unfortunately, bed bugs are hardy beasts and the cold doesn’t offer as much of a deterrent as we might like.
The way bugs hibernate is not the same as the way animals hibernate. When the weather turns cold some bugs go into a low-energy state called diapause. As the term suggests this state initiates a pause in the insect’s activity and development. Diapause has no set timer, and can last as long as temperatures remain cold and inimical to the bug’s life cycle. In most cases insects will remain in a state of diapause until the weather turns warmer.
Baby it’s Cold Outside
Bed bugs are not immune to the colder temperatures. In fact, particularly cold temps can indeed kill bed bugs. However, we are talking extreme cold here. Bed bugs can survive up to four days in below 0° temps, after which they will perish. But it is important to keep in mind that bed bugs are not typically and outdoor insect. As parasites they share their hosts’ environment. That means they are more likely to be indoors and happily surviving and thriving in cozy comfy warmth. Right along side of us and our families.
Do Bed Bugs Continue to Spread Even in Winter?
Not only can bed bugs easily survive throughout the winter, they can spread and thrive regardless of the temperatures outside. Bed bugs climb onto their hosts’ belongings. They hitch rides on our clothing, our coats, and our luggage. All of which we take with us when we travel. A bed bug will happily hitch a ride on your overcoat as you travel from your warm home, via your heated car, to your office or to your friend’s house.
The brief exposure to the winter cold and snow has no effect on a determined bed bug. Remember, they can tolerate the cold for several days before they suffer any ill effects and even then the temperatures have to be sub-zero to do any real harm. Since we tend to carry our belongings with us, moving from one heated environment to another, bed bugs imply are not exposed to the cold for long enough to make an impact. And even when our belongings are left outside or in an unheated car or building bed bugs can work their way into the smallest places in search of pockets of warmth to sustain them until we collect our belongings and move them back into a warm environment.
Even in the depths of winter bed bugs can not only survive the cold temperatures, they can also thrive and spread to new environments. Bed bug infestations aren’t just a spring and summer occurrence. They are a year round concern.
Regardless of the Weather We Must Remain Vigilant
Winter offers no real respite from the scourge of bed begs. Vigilance is the key. If you suspect your home or workplace has been invaded by bed bugs the time to act is now. Contact a professional bed bug inspection and removal service as soon as possible. Schedule a full inspection of your property and, if bed bugs are found on the premises, work with your pest control expert to devise a plan of attack. The sooner you act the sooner you can eliminate the infestation and protect your family from these blood-sucking parasites.