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Does Cold Weather Eliminate Bed Bugs?

bed-bug

Did you know that Durham is ranked 12th nationally for bed bug treatments? The growing incidence of infestations is a frightening fact that residents need to be attuned to. The paranoia is causing locals to go to extremes. One of those being extreme cold temperatures. However, does exposing bugs to the bite of winter - or freezing them artificially -  work? The answer we discovered: kind of.

How Freezing Works

The emergence of DIY bed bug freezing came as an alternative option to potentially dangerous chemically-based treatments. Homeowners bag infested items and place them in the freezer at 0°F for at least three days. On the list of freezable household items are clothes, books, shoes, pictures, and even electronics. Fortunately, it is easy to do. All that is required is a very cold freezer, plastic bags, a remote thermometer, and, of course, time. 

The Caveats of the Freezer

It sounds appealing and inexpensive, but does it work? Sort of. Recent research suggests that controlling them with cold is not as effective as once thought. Bed bugs have adapted such that they can lower the freezing point of their bodily fluids to survive. As such, the process of freezing them to death takes much longer than expected. In some cases, for bed bugs in all life stages, from egg to adult, it may not work at all. And we cannot forget to mention that mattresses, the #1 place where bed bugs dwell in homes, don't fit in the freezer.

Can I Use the Weather?

It's unfortunate that we can't freeze bed bugs out of mattresses. So, can't you just put them outside in January or February? First, we hope that you don't wait that long. Second, it's not quite the same. The mild, unpredictable Durham winter temperatures make it unlikely that it will be cold long enough to kill every bug. Not to mention, sunlight, humidity, and precipitation can damage valuable materials.

Know Your Options in Durham and Beyond

Being in the wake of a bed bug infestation cultivates a sense of urgency. If you're not up for spending 4-5 days experimenting with unreliable freezing methods, don't. There are safer, faster options available, like heat treatments. Taking bed bugs to the other extreme of the temperature spectrum, professionals defeat eggs, larvae, and adult bed bugs in just one day. Even inside your mattress. With these bugs on the rise in Durham, stay equipped to keep your loved ones safe. And for your out of town escapades, make sure you're not bringing bed bugs home from your hotel. Use websites, like the Bed Bug Registry, to look up safe accommodations.

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