Freezing Bed Bugs, Is It Effective?

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Exposing bed bug-infested clothing or other small items to freezing temperatures may be a viable control option for people at risk of bed bug infestations. However, a new study has found that freezing bed bugs may be less susceptible to freezing temperatures than previously reported.

In an article in the Journal of Economic Entomology called "Cold Tolerance of Bed Bugs and Practical Recommendations for Control," the authors describe how exposing bed bugs to freezing temperatures affects them, and they provide practical recommendations for management of potentially infested items.

Bed bugs, like many other insects, use a "freeze-intolerant" strategy against the cold, meaning they attempt to protect themselves from freeze injury by lowering the freezing point of their body fluids. For this study, the researchers evaluated the supercooling point (SCP) and the lower lethal temperature (LLT) for all life stages of bed bugs, as well as their potential to feed after exposure to sub-lethal temperatures.

The authors found that in order to achieve 100% mortality, a minimum exposure time of 80 hours at minus 16 degrees celcius (3.2 ° F) is required for all life stages. Temperatures below minus 15 degrees celcius (5 ° F) are sufficient to control all life stages of bed bugs after 3.5 days, while temperatures below minus 20 degrees celcius (-4 ° F) require only 48 hours. They also observed bed bug eggs surviving in short-term exposures to temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees celcius (-13 ° F).

Homeowners can place bed bug-infested items in a freezer to destroy them. However, the authors recommend that the items be placed in plastic bags and that they remain in the freezer for 2-4 days, depending on the freezer's temperature. According to the EPA, freezing bed bugs is effective, but temperatures must remain very low for a long time. Home freezers are usually not cold enough to kill bed bugs. Putting things outside in freezing temperatures can kill bed bugs, but it can take several days when the temperature is 0° F and almost a week when the temperature is 20° F.

As bed bugs have continued to make a comeback across the nation, pest control companies are forced to develop a strategy for control and prevention of bed bugs. Some solutions pest control companies are using to get rid of bed bugs include freezing, steam heat, site, pesticide application, vacuuming, along with preparation.

Thomas Pest Services bed bug service:

  • Inspection: Thomas Pest Services technicians perform a thorough inspection to locate bed bugs.
  • Preparation: After bed bugs have been confirmed in the structure, preparing for bed bug treatment is critical to success.
  • Treatment: Thomas Pest Services uses a combination of methods from vacuuming, steaming and apply pesticides for long term control. Mattress encasements and climbup devices are installed on beds and sometimes couches as well.
  • Follow Up: Thomas Pest Services performs follow up services every 2 weeks to monitor and re-treat for activity.

If bed bugs become a problem for you, avoid searching the internet for do-it-yourself bed bug solutions, be informed by calling a bed bug removal professional and learn what not to do when you have bed bugs. It is important to perform inspections when you arrive and return home to remain bed bug free. Living in Albany, Clifton Park, Saratoga or any other Capital Region communities, Thomas Pest Services is your local exterminator who provides bed bug treatments. At the first signs of bed bugs, contact Thomas Pest Services and do not try to treat on your own.


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