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As we’ve written about previously at Atlantic Bed Bug Inspection, we’ve noticed that the bed bug problem in the tri-state area has become a year-round epidemic. This intensity has been maintained the last 2 years particularly, and we’re not seeing any months where we’re not uncovering bed bug infestations on a regular basis. Peak seasons continue to be in the spring time, when warmer weather moves in & instigates bed bugs’ breeding patterns, and the fall months, when fertile bed bugs that have been laying eggs in the springtime see those babies reach maturity in the summer, and then those babies reach maturity to cause the heavy infestations we routinely find in September and October. Bed bugs’ ability to multiply in a very short period of time is daunting.
But if there’s been one off-peak season, where bed bug infestations are being suppressed, it’s been happening during the winter months: January, February, and March.
The cold weather seems to have a definite effect on a bed bug’s ability to hitchhike in cold weather, or, their (un)willingness to do so. On our end, the temperatures we’ve seen bed bugs die routinely at has been temperatures under +18 degrees fahrenheit. Freezing weather – where a bed bug is directly exposes to the elements, with has no insulation available to it, is helping stop bed bugs in their tracks. In New York City, the bed bug that’s hitchhiking on a person’s clothing or outerwear, while that person waits for the bus or El train, is not always surviving the trip to an indoors destination. The cold weather is taking a toll on bed bugs when they’re outdoors, there’s no question about it.
We can point to examples where cold weather has helped families remediate a bed bug problem. In an instance early last month, we had a family that had a concern about only one piece of furniture in their household: the living room sofa. It seemed that only one person in the household was getting bitten, and she only felt bites when she lounged on the sofa watching television. After asking us to inspect their home, sure enough, we looked underneath the sofa, found staining in the wooden flats, and then an assortment of bed bugs on the underside of the fabric.
The lady’s immediate reaction was to discard the sofa. But, it was an expensive, high-end sofa, with hard-to-match patterns. The family didn’t want to throw the sofa away, but they also understood that sofas can be an item that’s extremely difficult to treat for bed bugs, because of all the folds. The idea we came up with was to wrap the sofa, move it outside on the back deck of the house for a week, allow air to filter in, and during that time have a pest control company (of their choice) come in and apply a perimeter treatment within the living room only – a light, low-odor residual pesticide application to ensure no bed bug stragglers were left behind.
During this time, the sofa was subjected to at least 4 days of temperatures under +18 degrees, and daily temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s. The sofa was in the cold weather for an extended period of time – almost 1 month. The family brought the sofa back into the home on the 30th day after it was placed outside, and we were asked to return yesterday so we could inspect it properly with our K9. The result in this instance was that the plan worked: the sofa was bed bug free, and so was the rest of the home. The cold weather had killed off any bed bugs that had taken cover in the sofa.
Of course, not every family lives in a house, and has access to a back deck. Many of our customers live in apartments. The idea we hope to share is that, though, is there are alternative means to combating a bed bug infestation that don’t always involve the heavy use of pesticides, or, don’t always involve having to throw away lots of furniture and belongings. If you have any questions about the remediation measures that are available to you, please call us anytime.
(Note: we can’t stress enough that no matter where you live, any items you choose to discard because of a bed bug infestation should be wrapped & properly sealed before you remove them from your residence. This is in your interest, to make sure bed bugs don’t fall off of those items elsewhere in the home as you remove them, and in your neighbors’ interest if you live in an apartment. New York City laws are particularly very strict in regard to discarding mattresses, box springs, and sofas when bed bug infestations are present – the city has administered fines very aggressively).