What months are bed bugs active?
Bed Bug FAQs
Bed bugs are wingless, approximately ¼ inch in length with a flattened, oval shape and rusty brown in color. Younger bed bugs are smaller and often lighter in color. Female bed bugs can lay from 1-12 eggs a day and 3 or more generations can occur each year. A bed bug can live up to 18 months and survive without a blood meal for a year. Since bed bugs are only active at night, any daytime sightings may indicate a heavy infestation.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE BED BUGS?
Usually the first sign of a bed bug infestation is the appearance of small, rusty spots on your mattress and bed linens. These are bed bug droppings and blood spots. Bed bugs feed on any bare skin exposed while sleeping. Red, itchy welts are an indication of an infestation. Bed bug “bites” occur when the bed bug is actually drawing blood. It may take as long as fourteen days for a welt to appear from a bed bug “bite”. The victim of a bed bug should resist the urge to scratch the “bites” as this may intensify the itching and cause an infection. Some people have a reaction to bed bug ‘bites” and may need to seek medical assistance.
WHERE SHOULD I LOOK FOR SIGNS OF BED BUGS?
Check for bed bugs on the seams and folds of mattresses, bed frames and head boards. Bed bugs may also be behind baseboards, pictures, frames, windows, door casings, loosened wall paper, curtains, cracks in plaster and electrical wall plates. They can be in furniture, closets and cracks and crevices around the house. Adult bed bugs can hide in any space as thin as a piece of paper; young bed bugs are even smaller.
HOW CAN I AVOID BED BUGS?
Do not bring items that are known to be infested into your home. Be sure to inspect any furniture or secondhand items that are brought into your home for bed bugs. When returning from a trip, inspect your luggage and clothes for bed bugs.
HOW DO I GET RID OF BED BUGS IF I HAVE THEM?
- Reduce the amount of clutter to achieve a good treatment and eliminate hiding places. Vacuum mattresses, box springs, and carpets. Dispose of vacuumed contents in a sealed plastic bag immediately.
- Enclose mattress and box springs with bed bug proof zippered cover. Cover should remain in place for more than one year.
- Wash and dry bedding and garments on high heat to kill any bed bugs.
- Use bed bug interceptors under the legs of the bed and furniture to determine if bed bugs are present.
- When disposing of bed bug infested materials always label them clearly “BED BUGS” so others do not take the materials and infest their homes.
- Complete elimination of a bed bug infestation may be difficult without a knowledgeable Pest Control Service. It may even take as many as five or more treatments to control the population.
- Do-it-yourself measures used by homeowners and renters sometimes cause more problems than benefits.
- “Bug bombs” and foggers are not recommended for treatment.
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Do Bed Bugs Go Dormant in Winter?
“Good night and sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Good intentions, perhaps, by parents far and wide but somewhat disconcerting for a young kid to hear right before the lights go out. Bugs in my bed? What’s that all about?
What is a bed bug?
Bed bugs resemble ticks in appearance and have similar feeding habits in that they live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs are flat, oval-shaped insects about the size of an apple seed. They don’t fly, but they are fast movers and prolific breeders, laying hundreds of eggs at a time once they find a comfy place in which to make a home. That’s not good news, especially with an array of serious effects from their bites. A bed bug bite can induce skin rashes, allergic reactions, blisters, itching, fever, and even psychological issues.
With winter upon us, does that mean these nasty critters will shrivel up and die? If you’re wondering if bed bugs go dormant in winter, the answer is yes and no.
Do bed bugs go dormant in winter?
In a way, yes. Bed bugs become less active in winter than in other times of the year, resulting in feeding and breeding less frequently. Because of that, you might see an explosion of activity in one month and far less the next. Let’s look closer at what these bugs are up to.
In ideal conditions, bed bugs digest food in two to three days. In colder temperatures, however, it takes them longer to digest food and they also slow down in their efforts to feed and roam around looking for new places to make a home. They still might lay eggs, albeit less of them and it takes longer to hatch. Their eggs require ideal conditions, just like most every other species and cold temps are not their favorite. However, since bed bugs live indoors, conditions are generally in their favor. In a home regulated at the same temperature all year, bed bugs won’t go dormant.
Since bed bugs don’t generate their own body heat, they are dependent on living at specific temperatures so if a room cools to below the typical average indoor temp, the bugs will slow way down and sometimes won’t move at all. Generally speaking, bed bugs are most active across the U.S. in August and least active in February. New infestations of the bugs are less common in winter as well; with much slower speed, they rely on hitching a ride on clothes or other belongings to travel to new places.
Other dormancy factors
Some “unlucky” bed bugs slip into dormancy because they don’t have a host. An empty or abandoned house, for example, doesn’t leave much for the bugs to feast on. A family gone on an extended vacation can be like an empty house but the return of the host will awaken bed bugs.
Bugs hanging out in a guest room, storage container, or mattress have the same challenge of having to survive longer without food and some won’t be able to eat at all and then move into dormancy. In dormant states, bed bugs of course cannot breed and produce eggs but the bugs can survive for one to two years. In fact, the colder it is the longer they can survive and as soon as a host is reintroduced, they will “come back to life” and continue their nefarious ways.
Bed bugs also enter a dormant state during the day because they are afraid of light, which is known as photophobic. In fact, if you have bed bugs in your house you can watch the tiny critters scatter by lifting a mattress or uncovering other places they happen to be living.
These bugs are savvy night feeders, waiting until the wee hours of the morning when their host (you) is in their deepest sleep before moving in to bite. However, if a particular beg bug or group of them aren’t hungry; they won’t bother to emerge at all. After a meal, there is usually a three-day digestion period until the next foray out for another and during this time the bugs hardly move at all, except perhaps to mate if the mood strikes.
Given their propensity for warmth, bed bugs are most active during summer months when temps are pleasant and comfortable for fast food digestion as well as rapid growth to adulthood. Warm temps are also conducive for copious breeding. Bed bugs need to feed in order to breed and females must breed every time she wants to lay an egg.
Summer also typically brings more humid weather which keeps bugs from drying out and provides great conditions for traveling long distances to spread like wildfire. It can, however, be too hot for bed bugs. They begin to die off when the temperature reaches about 93 and higher, which makes egg production, hatching, and molting all much more difficult.
Summer Time vs. Winter Time: Which is Worse for Bed Bugs?
Many people ask whether or not bed bugs are more active during the summer months. The answer is yes and here’s some insight into why bed bug activity increases during the summer months.
The peak season for bed bugs is June through October. The increase in heat and humidity during the summer and early fall months does appear to have the effect of making bed bugs more active. “More active” means that they will want to feed and breed more often. However, bed bugs are indoor pests and do not die out in the winter time, so vigilance is necessary year-round. More movement, more travel, and more activity in the summer inevitably means an increase in bed bug activity. That’s because the opportunity to hop onto luggage, people, and pets also increases as families welcome college students home, plan getaways and host out of town guests. As people continue to travel, the bed bugs become more embedded into homes, hotels, apartments, and other well populated areas.
As mentioned, the increase in travel during the summer months allows bed bugs to spread from place to place very quickly, creating new infestations in many more hotel rooms and homes. Many hotel exterminators and inspectors report an increase in their appointments in the summer. Assuming now that the summer months are worse for bed bug-related problems, let’s look at ways to prevent bringing them back with you from vacation and travel.
Tips for summer travel
The good news is that you can protect yourself and your home from an infestation as long as you’re vigilant and prepared. On your way to a great summer vacation, be sure to take these bed bug prevention tips along:
Research your hotel. Before confirming your reservation, check for recent reports of bed bugs in your hotel at tripadvisors.com and bedbugregistry.com. Some of the reports might be false alarms, but look for a consensus.
Inspect your room. Bring a flashlight and a magnifying glass with you on every trip. With your luggage still in the hallway, pull the sheets off the top half of the bed and check the edges of the mattress for tiny black spots that look like mold spots. These are the tell-tale fecal spots that bed bugs leave behind. It’s rare to find actual bugs since they hide in the walls and furniture very well, but the black spots are a dead giveaway. Also, check the bed skirt in between the mattress and box spring, which should be completely clear. Lastly, most hotel beds have a headboard that should be checked behind if possible.
Zip up your luggage. Even a hotel room that looks spotless could still be hiding the early stages of an infestation. The most effective way to prevent bringing them home is to place your luggage in plastic zip bags. BugZip and other brands make such items specifically for this issue. These are cheap insurance and much more effective than just using the luggage rack or bathtub to try and keep your luggage away from bed bugs.