Does Cold or Heat Kill Bed Bugs?

Dave Campbell

Bed bugs are sensitive insects when it comes to temperature. A fact is that there have been many myths about what temperature to use to kill bed bugs and about various DIY heat treatments. Furthermore, you cannot eliminate the pest by turning the heater up or down during winter. On the other hand, leaving your items infested with the bug is not a big help. Alternatively, you cannot leave the items outdoors on sunny days. So what is there to do? Please read the full article here to find out what temperature you need to achieve to get rid of them.

Does Cold Kill Bed Bugs?

Have you tried DIY methods to save costs on expensive treatments get rid of bed bugs and their eggs? Well, then you know how difficult it is to get rid of them. A fact is that only extreme cold temperatures can kill the eggs and bug with a reasonable success rate. The truth is that the pestilence, according to studies can die at freezing temperatures lower than 3° F. According to these studies, the insect can die within an hour while other researchers suggest sometimes it can take up to a week.

Either way, it is possible to leave infected items outside to freeze them but not foolproof and it is know that in certain conditions bug survived extreme cold. On the other hand, the small blood sucker does not like it when it gets too hot or cold. Here you can view a study by author Joelle F. Olson in the Journal of Economic Entomology. In the study, he looked at different stages of their lives to find out how quick they die when frozen.

Joelle found that bed bugs are tolerant to cold to an extent. However, compared to other insects, the bed bug is not good at supercooling to keep the chemical and physical tactics unfrozen. Therefore, the insect is vulnerable to cold.

So what temperature will kill bed bugs?

In most cases, the pest can die at temperatures that are lower than 3°. Unfortunately, it does take up to 80-hour to kill off the bug. With temperatures lower than 4° F it can take up to two days while other studies such as the Medical & Veterinary Entomology suggests differently. According to the research, the bug dies within an hour at 4°.

warm bed bugs

So can bed bugs survive cold rooms?

Yes, they can unless it gets cold enough in the home to kill the bug. The only thing you can do is to lower the temperature that is cold enough to prevent them from biting often. So why does this happen? Here is why it takes the bed bug longer to digest the food and feed less. At the same time, the insect grows slower and lays fewer eggs. Just the difference in the degrees helps lessen the infestation. However, this is not the solution as you want to rid your entire home of the problem. The only time they become inactive at 50° Fahrenheit and stop feeding, mating, and laying eggs. Another problem you face is to get all the bed bugs into bags or leaving your furniture outdoors in the cold is not the best solution.

So what is there to do as the bed bug can survive outside in winter and can survive if frozen to death in freezing temperatures at a certain degree.

Can You Freeze Bed Bugs with CO²?

Yes, you can as use this old method but not as widespread as using heat treatment or pesticides.

There are kits you can buy online, but it is expensive and not used for this reason. The Cryonite kit comes with a tank placed on wheels with an applicator and trigger.

Using CO² does have it upside as it is environmentally friendly since the carbon dioxides recycled. What you do is to starve the bed bug from oxygen.

However, it does come with some drawbacks as well:

  • It would help if you gauged the carbon dioxide levels and require special equipment to achieve this.
  • You cannot kill bed bug eggs with CO² unless you have a 100% application.

Does Heat Kill Bed Bugs?

One of the most effective pest control methods is to eliminate beg bugs with heat. The reason is that the insect cannot survive temperature above 140° F. With this type of heat, it spreads throughout the home to each room making it hotter as everything heats up killing them. Therefore, you do not need to hunt them down as the high temperatures do it for you.

So can you use your hairdryer to kill bed bugs with heat?

You may think using your hairdryer is the best way to get rid of bed bugs, but you will need to maintain the heat over them. In most cases the hairdryer reaches a max temperature of 150° but maintaining the heat is a different story. Therefore, you need the right tools for bed bug heat treatment, such as a high-pressure steamer. A steam cleaner reaches past 200° and penetrates deep into mattress and box springs, fabric, gaps, and furniture. Other alternatives are using a portable bed bug heater like the ThermalStrike Ranger or ZappBug Oven to treat household items. If you have them in your hair, using bed bug shampoo in a hot shower will be more effective.

So what can you do if you have the bug in your vehicle and will bed bugs die in a hot car?

If you are one of the unfortunate people to have this problem, you can expose them to heat up to 120°. Furthermore, it depends if you live in an area with extreme heat. You can spread out the seat covers and mat in direct sunlight, or you can use a high-pressure steamer to achieve the best results. You might want to check out my other post – What do bed bugs eggs actually look like?

Summing It Up

Taking all the information into consideration the lethal method is using heat to burn beg bugs and needs to be up to 120° F.

The bed bug heat treatments method remains the best solution compared to freezing that is below 4°F. As you can see, both the ways are tricky to achieve but not impossible.

Furthermore, it all depends on the equipment you use as using your hairdryer is not the solution. You can use CO² kits, or you can rent or invest in a high-pressure steamer to get the job done.

However, you will need to put an action plan in place:

  • By determining the severity of the bed bug problem using a flashlight.
  • You will need to take action giving the whole house a good cleaning using a vacuum and steamer.
  • Now all that is left is to give it a full week for it to take effect.

Furthermore, if you still find your results did not work, we recommend you call in a bed bug exterminator to help with the pest control problem. There are also pest control companies that allow renting machines to help eliminate bed bugs. If you can’t afford paying a pest management company, there are other various way of doing your own bed bug control, such as using diatomaceous earth for bedbugs or bug spray.


Dave Campbell

I'm Dave Campbell and the owner of You can read more about me and my background on my About Me page.

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