Q & A: Does Cold Weather Kill Bed Bugs?
There’s nothing that can ruin your day quicker than finding a bed bug. Or worse, a bed bug bite —meaning an actual bug was crawling on you at one point... And know that if you have already seen one bed bug, you can bet that there are many more lurking close by! The fact is, our homes and workplaces are not safe from bed bugs, preventing them is almost impossible as they are sneaky, resilient pests. In fact, one in a handful of homes has bed bugs. And it’s said that almost every pest professional has dealt with bed bugs in the past year alone. Don’t be fooled into thinking that, like ticks and fleas, bed bugs will die off in cold weather. In reality, bed bugs can survive in temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time! Therefore, bed bugs can stick around even during the cold fall and winter months. So, when asking “does cold weather kill bed bugs?” — the answer is no, it does not. If you live in the Carolinas where it’s warm throughout most of the year, don’t panic. We’ve got all sorts of information to help you figure out what to do if you find bed bugs in your home or workplace.
How to Identify a Bed Bug: it’s All in the Bite!
Bed bugs are small, roughly the size of an apple seed. At first glance, this pest looks like a rust-colored speck, but it’s not until you see one of them move that you realize it’s alive. Since they are so small, an easier way to identify them is by their bite mark. Bite marks from bed bugs often get mistaken for bites from fleas, mosquitoes, spiders, ticks, and other pests found in the Carolinas. Bed bugs like to feed on areas that are warm and dark, such as your armpits and neck. The bite marks will usually form a line or clusters on the body. These are telltale signs you’re dealing with bed bugs. Within a day of finding new bite marks, red and itchy welts will form. For reference, flea bites usually occur on the lower body and are also very itchy. Each bite is somewhat pink with a dark red center. Mosquito bites on the other hand start off as a white, puffy bump that later turns into a firm red bump. Spider bites have a similar appearance to a bullseye with a red ring around a white blister, depending on the type of spider. Related: 10 Common Bed Bugs Myths: Debunked!
Where to Look for Bed Bugs
When looking for bed bugs, you can also look for signs that there is an infestation in your home or office. In addition to bite marks, other obvious signs of bed bugs include blood stains, rust-colored excrement in an “x” pattern, eggshells, and shed skins. Bed bugs can consume over seven times their own body weight in blood and feed for 5-10 minutes at a time. These relentless feeders don’t give up and are known for their elusive behaviors that make them hard to catch in action. Because they hide during the daytime, knowing how to find them can be tough. They tend to squeeze themselves into the tiniest of crevices and stay hidden as much as possible. At Killingsworth, we use specially trained dogs to find bed bug infestations. Below are the specific places to look for bed bugs at home or in your workplace, and even when traveling!
This list may seem long, but bed bugs aren’t very picky about where they hang out. They tend to congregate in areas where people spend a lot of time, which is why they’re usually found in beds and living room areas. Bed bugs can be literally anywhere, so search your entire home as thoroughly as possible. Here are some ideas to get you started on where to look:
Underneath your bed sheets
The seams or tags attached to your mattress
On your bed frame
Along the box spring
Between couch cushions
Within the folds of curtains
Behind electrical outlets
Behind loose wallpaper
On or behind picture frames
Where the wall and ceiling meet
Inside of books
Clothing inside closets or drawers
Stuffed animals and pet toys
Underneath or on top of rugs
Inside of package delivery boxes
In the Workplace
Some places may overlap with where you would search at home, but look for bed bugs in any areas where employees tend to sit for more than a few minutes at a time. Check these areas when you’re at the office:
Furniture seams and tags
Employee purses and coats
In crevices of office chairs
Where carpet meets baseboards
Employee desk and computer equipment
Lounge areas and furniture
Drawer files and paperwork
Inside of package delivery boxes
As an added tip, here’s where you can check for bed bugs when traveling:
Mattress seams and tags
Bedding and pillows
Inside nightstand and dresser drawers
On luggage and the items you have packed
Did you know that bed bugs are an ancient insect species? They’ve been documented as being a nuisance way back in 400 B.C. Learn more about the fascinating history of the bed bug.
What To Do if You Find Bed Bugs
First, determine that you are actually dealing with bed bugs and not some other type of pest. This way, you can confirm an infestation and begin taking steps toward eliminating them from your home or office. Immediately begin cleaning your space as much as possible to get rid of any pests. Vacuum and steam mop all possible surfaces, and wash all bedding and linens to manage the severity of the problem. But keep in mind that these methods may not make much of a difference when dealing with an actual bed bug infestation. Calling a professional pest company to confirm the infestation and handle it for you is really the only effective way to eliminate them completely. Otherwise, you have no way of truly knowing when the infestation is eliminated. Again, these pests are very elusive and can be hard to catch!
The Best Method for Eliminating Bed Bugs
The only tried and true method for getting rid of bed bugs is with extreme heat. Thermal extermination is a treatment used for several types of insects. Bed bugs cannot live in temperatures higher than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Utilizing special equipment to heat up a home or office space is the preferred treatment for them. Pesticides are another common treatment option, but in our opinion are not as effective. Neonicotinoids are a common pesticide used in all sorts of pest products. Unfortunately, bed bugs have become resistant to this pesticide, making them even more difficult to get rid of. In fact, it’s possible to chase them out of an area and assume they’ve been eliminated. Just to have them return from hiding up to one year later. So, if you’re trying to manage an infestation yourself, stick to reliable heating methods only. You can try using a steam cleaner to target areas with bed bugs, but remove anything that can be damaged by high heat and water such as photos, paperwork, and so on. You will also want to wash clothing and washable items and use the hottest setting on your dryer to kill the pests.
Killingsworth’s Thermal Heat Process
Here at Killingsworth, we offer a unique method for handling unwanted bed bugs. First, we use our K-9 Detection team to locate these pests and then use Thermal Remediation to get rid of them. Our team of Terriers have a 98% success rate in detecting bed bugs, compared to the 30% success rate of humans! Upon arrival, our K9s will confirm the presence of bed bugs in your home or office. Once your home has been inspected and a bed bug infestation has been confirmed, thermal extermination can be used to eliminate any existing bed bugs and eggs. We will place heaters throughout the problem areas and continuously monitor the temperature of the air. This way, we can make sure it reaches at least 118 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have spotted what you think is a bed bug, schedule an appointment with us below. Don't waste any more time wondering, "does cold weather kill bed bugs?". As you can see, the answer is no! Our professional pest team (dogs included) are happy to perform an inspection to confirm a bed bug infestation. Once we have determined that you are dealing with bed bugs and not some other pest, we can get started on thermal remediation to get rid of these pests in your home and workplace once and for all.