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Are Bed Bugs Still Active in Winter?

By Chris Williams on January 17, 2017.

We had a problem with bed bugs last summer and had an exterminator treat our home. I think the bed bugs are long gone but my wife is worried that they’re just hiding and hibernating and will become active again when the weather warms up. Does that happen? J. R., Boston, MA

That doesn’t happen in a heated home. It’s true that bed bugs develop and reproduce at a faster rate in a warmer environment. That’s one reason why our bed bug complaints increase in the summer. But bed bugs living in climate-controlled buildings are not much affected by winter weather. Reproduction could slow down slightly as indoor temperatures in winter may be 5 degrees or so less than in summer (assuming an air-conditioned home), and feeding frequency could be slightly less in winter. If bed bugs are still present in your home, they will continue to periodically feed on human residents throughout the winter. And, if you have both sexes present, bed bugs will continue to reproduce and lay eggs.

Know How to Recognize Bed Bug Activity

The effectiveness of a bed bug treatment depends on many factors, including the diligence of the pest control professionals. Because treatment does not always kill bed bug eggs and may not kill hidden or insecticide-resistant bugs, repeat visits are often necessary. There is always a chance that an infestation can build up again if even a single bed bug remains.

However, assuming your treatment was several months ago, you should know by now if you still have a bed bug problem. Since you had an infestation, you should be familiar with bite reactions and bed bug signs such as blood spots on sheets, fecal spots from bed bugs, shed skins, etc. (see Six Signs That You Might Have Bed Bugs?). Assuming you haven’t experienced any of these, it’s probably safe to say your bed bugs were eliminated.

Here’s How It Could Have Happened…

But it’s a good idea to remain vigilant. If you don’t know how you acquired the bed bugs in the first place, you could reinfest your home again from the same source. For example, what if someone in the next office cubicle has a bed bug-infested home and occasionally carries hitchhiking bed bugs to work in a backpack…and you then accidentally carry a pregnant female bug home in your belongings? Could happen again. Or, what if your favorite B&B has a low-level bed bug infestation and doesn’t even know it? Spend Valentine’s Day weekend there and you could carry bed bugs home again. Could happen, but bed bug introductions depend on the right combination of circumstances and are less common than most people think. Just be careful out there!

Photo Credit : AJC1 | CC BY-SA 2.0

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