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“Night night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs LIVE, BECAUSE THEY’RE EVIL AND MUST BE EXTERMINATED! KILL THEM WITH FIIIIIIIRE!”
That’s probably how the famous injunction to children as you kiss them goodnight should go.
Don’t believe us?
It’s hard to love a bed bug, and even harder to live and let live with them.
For one thing, they live, feed and breed…where you sleep. You might think of it as your bed, but from their ‘point of view,’ it’s essentially just a giant bed bug orgy.
The Mathematics Of Reproduction
A single female bed bug can produce between 200-250 eggs during her lifetime. Which is impressive in itself, but gains a whole new level of ick when you realize that her lifetime is between 6-12 months. Don’t do the generational math, it’ll just depress and scare you.
Couple the prolific mating with a regular molting process and what you have is a bed bug orgy, which begins again with an additional next generation usually within a month, in a graveyard of previous body-shells. And a next next generation shortly after that.
In your bed.
Then you need to add three more disturbing things to that.
Additional Disturbing Thing #1. Bed bugs are resilient little creatures. Think cockroach, then double down.
So none of the usual things you’d do to get rid of an infestation are especially going to work. You can wash your sheets as much as you like – use cool, eco-friendly cycles and what you have are clean bed bugs, staring up at you asking “That all ya got?”
Hot cycle and hot dry them and what you have are sheets full of dead bed bugs, all ready to go back on your bed – where those that scuttled out of the way or off the bed entirely can immediately take their place. Epic bed bug eradication fail.
Additional Disturbing Thing #2. Bed bugs are vampires. Their main – in fact, most often their only food source, is blood.
Not just your blood – they’re happy enough to chow down on a blood banquet from your cats and dogs too – but mostly your blood, so when you lie down at night in an active bed bug colony, you’re essentially the hog roast that brings itself to dinner.
Complete with all the warm, interesting entry points you have – lips, ears, noses and more. They’re not about to tap a vein, but they will take a drink, because blood is what powers their life cycle, their mating, their next generation.
Additional Disturbing Thing #3. Bed bugs are hitchhikers. One of the main ways you get bed bugs in the first place is by them hitching a lift on someone else, coming into contact with you, and jumping ship, ready to set up a new colony in your bed.
So they’re quite willing to use you to find new pastures. And remember – showers are unlikely to be hot enough to kill them.
But, y’know…sleep well.
The Scuttling Undead
Oh, bonus Disturbing Additional Thing #4 – while they love to feast on your blood, they can go a whole year without eating. Anything.
If you think you’ve killed them, and discover a way to starve them of your blood without suffocating yourself to death…they’ll still be there, in the nooks and crannies of your house, breeding, their numbers growing, just waiting for a tasty source of blood to come their way, and then it’s business – and banqueting – as usual.
So – having determined that bed bugs need killing, what sort of temperatures do we need to do the job?
The Temperature Game
There are two ways to go – hold or cold. Because while they’re resilient, they’re disturbingly like us – they’re extremophobes. Anything temperate, they’re happy. Too hot for too long, they die. Too cold for too long, they die. Just like us.
Killing them with heat or cold is easy enough in theory:
Adult bed bugs and bed bug nymphs take 90 minutes to kill at 113°F, and 20 minutes to kill at 118°F. Going the cold route, -13°F for 4 days will kill both nymphs and adults.
Bed bug eggs are hardier, though. They take 90 minutes at 118°F if you go the hot route and the same -13°F for 4 days on the cold. Hotter or colder than these temperatures will get you more dead bed bugs at faster speeds.
That’s fine as far as it goes, but because they’re both relentless and resilient, they can hide, hitch a ride, do whatever is necessary to avoid you.
That means the chances of you getting them all using home temperature techniques are small to say the least – besides, do you want to put your king size comforter in a plastic bag and leave it in the freezer for 4 days?
There is the option of getting a steamer from DoMyOwn, which can let you kill bed bugs in situ. But again, home remedies are only as good as where they’re used, and the hardy little critters can easily hide in nooks and crannies till you and the wand of steamy death have passed on by.
Who You Gonna Call?
When you absolutely, positively have to kill every bed bug in your house – you’re going to need to get a pest controller in. They have both the advanced tools, the professional talent and the history of finding even hidden bed bugs that is what you need by the time you’re really aware you have the problem.
Remember the mathematics of reproduction? Remember the hitch-hiking potential? Remember the special resilience of the bed bug eggs and the ability they have to hide outside the bed environment while you steam or boil or freeze some of them to death?
While it’s always good to know the temperatures you need to use to kill any bedbugs in your house, imagine the ones you know about as the tip of a tiny, crawling, blood-drinking iceberg. You can keep their numbers down by your DIY methods. You’re very unlikely to be able to eradicate the problem that way.
Get a pest controller in. They can deal with the problem you can see, and the likely much bigger problem you can’t.
Your bed is your refuge. Your calm zone. Your fun palace. And when bed bugs take up residence in it, you’re fighting the irresistible forces of blood, breeding and evolutionary numbers.
You can’t win that battle alone. Go professional, and get your refuge back.