Bed bugs are one of the many parasites that can plague homeowners. Like most other parasites, bed bugs are small, resilient, and very nasty. The fact that they tend to live in our beds only makes them even more repulsive.
With that being the case, it’s not surprising that people are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to kill, control, and prevent bed bugs. One curious method that we’ll discuss here is temperature.
People rarely think of using temperature for dealing with pests. This is especially true nowadays with the thousands of pesticides, repellents, and pest-control tools available on the market.
Avoiding the unnecessary use of pesticides is always a good idea. Also, it’s important to remember that repellents aren’t always effective. So, especially since these are our bedrooms that we’re talking about, it’s worth asking, “Can heat kill bed bugs?” We’ll answer that question and a lot more in this article.
Are bed bugs temperature resistant?
The short answer is no, they are not. Like any other living thing, bed bugs do die below or above specific temperatures.
The longer answer, however, is that these temperatures are somewhat difficult to reach. In fact, a lot of what you might have read online under “tips and tricks” is actually wrong. There are a lot of people and blogs that cite using moderately cold or hot temperatures to kill bed bugs, which is almost always misleading.
The fact of the matter is that bed bugs can, unfortunately, survive a lot of extreme temperature fluctuations. The temperatures that are lethal to bed bugs often can’t be reached in an average household and can also require additional equipment.
Discovering the actual temperatures needed to kill bed bugs often dissuades people from attempting this method at all. Instead, they’ll turn to pesticides and other traditional methods to deal with their parasite problem.
What temperature do bed bugs die at?
According to various scientific studies, the temperature that is lethal for adult bed bugs is 118.94°F (48.3°C). On the other end of the spectrum, the temperature at which adult bed bugs freeze to death is -19.48°F (-28.6°C).
Although these can be tricky to achieve in a residential setting, it isn’t impossible. Before you consider using temperature as a weapon, it might be good to know which works best: heat or cold. This will depend on the equipment that you have on hand.
Can you freeze bed bugs to death?
Some modern freezers can reach 0.4°F (-18°C), although many freezers come up short in that regard. At normal freezer temperatures (which reach 6.3°F/-14.3°C, on average), bed bugs will die in 24 hours. It would be safest to leave them in there for at least four days, though.
If you want to freeze your unwanted bed bug guests to death, you’ll need:
- A remote thermometer to verify the temperature in your freezer
- Bags with airtight seals to store the infected items in (since you definitely don’t want bed bugs crawling around your freezer)
That last point may be surprising, but bed bugs can survive in freezing temperatures for quite some time. So, if you want to be certain that your efforts will yield a positive result, be prepared to set aside enough space in your freezer for at least 4–5 full days. Also, remember to put every infected item in a sealed plastic bag to ensure that your bed bugs are confined and can’t escape.
As for the type of things you’ll want to freeze, any item that can survive in such temperatures for 4–5 days can be frozen. Shoes, books, cloth items, toys, pictures, and even electronics without LCD screens can all be put in the freezer and come out unharmed.
If you have bed bugs living in electronics with LCD screens, in items that contain a lot of moisture, or in items that are too valuable to risk putting them in a freezer, you might want to consider another method of bed bug control.
Keep in mind that the length of time is important. Bed bugs have been known to survive temperatures of even -13°F (-25°C) for quite some time. So, you’ll have to make sure to keep them in the freezer long enough to kill them.
How can you use heat to kill bed bugs?
If you want to try heat instead of freezing, you absolutely can. This is often the less practical route for a couple of reasons.
- Not many homeowners have a suitable way to reach steady temperatures of 113°F (45°C) or of maintaining that temperature for a long period.
- Few infected items could survive such temperatures for long enough.
Also, remember that the higher the temperature you can achieve, the faster you’ll deal with the problem.
At 113°F (45°C), it takes 94.8 minutes to kill adult bed bugs. The trick here, as with the freezing method, is to make sure that all the bugs are subjected to the heat treatment. You can’t allow a single one to escape and hide somewhere.
For this reason, when using heat, you might want to subject your entire home to this treatment. After taking everything that can’t survive such temperatures outdoors (including yourself).
You should call a pest control company that specializes in heat treatments. They’ll use special equipment to increase the temperature in your home to the required level. This should kill every living bed bug inside – if maintained for enough time. While that is happening, you’ll have to deal with the bed bugs in the items you’ve brought outside in a different manner.
What temperature do bed bugs eggs die at?
So far, we’ve been talking about killing adult bed bugs. We haven’t mentioned what temperatures you need to kill bed bug eggs.
As with other parasites, bed bug eggs are generally more resilient than their adult counterparts. They can survive temperatures that are up to 130.6°F (54.8°C), which is why this is the minimum treatment temperature we’d recommend. As far as freezing is concerned, -46.3°F (-43.5°C) should be enough for bed bug eggs, as long as you give it enough time.