Bed bugs are not a seasonal pest but they do have infestation periods when they are more active.
In the pest control industry, we deal with seasonal pests. I get lots of calls during the summer months to treat ants in homes and yards, but the calls stop when the weather starts to turn cooler.
This isn’t the case for bed bugs as they can survive a range of temperatures.
This means that bed bug infestations can occur at any time of the year.
Let’s look at the reasons why bed bugs seem to be more active in the summer, and what you can do about it.
Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional
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Is There A Bed Bug Season?
It’s important to clarify that while there isn’t necessarily a “bed bug season,” there are certain times of the year where bed bug activity tends to be more prevalent.
What time of year are bed bugs most active?
According to a study on the Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) reported in Philadelphia, PA, they found “a steep and significant seasonal cycle in bed bug reporting, with peaks in the summer and troughs occurring throughout the winter.”
The reasons are that their activity levels increase in the summer heat and higher temperatures, and nymphs are able to develop faster.
Another reason is the level of travel in the summer, and in the winter holiday season which greatly increases our chances of coming into contact with bed bugs.
Although the study identifies a peak in bed bug reporting during the summer months, this does not mean they are seasonal pests and go away in the winter, far from it!
We pest control professionals are called out to treat infestations all throughout the year.
Bed bugs can be active at any time of year and their activity is influenced by factors such as temperature, humidity levels, and access to a person for blood.
What Kind Of Climate Do Bed Bugs Like?
As bed bugs have adapted to live in our homes, they have also adapted to like the same temperatures we do, which is around 70-80°F.
At this ideal temperature range, bed bugs can reproduce multiple times a year and the nymphs fully mature in about a month, making it challenging to eliminate them once an infestation occurs.
Do Bed Bugs Bite All Year Round?
Yes, bed bugs can bite all year round as they are an indoor pest.
Most people believe that bed bugs die in winter because they see a decrease in their activity.
While they don’t rely on seasonal changes to persist, there are a few factors that can affect their activity throughout the year.
One of these factors is temperature changes where they become less mobile in winter if your home becomes cooler, so they won’t feed on you as often.
But they certainly are not dead!
Unfortunately, if your home stays at a constant warm temperature then they will continue to feed frequently, so you might not notice much difference in bed bug activity between the summer and winter months.
As long as there are people around, bed bugs have the potential to bite regardless of the time of year.
Do Bed Bugs Hibernate?
One common misconception is that bed bugs hibernate during the winter months, but this isn’t entirely accurate.
These irritating pests do not actually undergo true hibernation but may enter a state of diapause, which is similar but not the same.
We know that during colder temperatures, bed bugs are less active and tend to move slower since their metabolism slows down.
But, they are still able to feed and reproduce as long as they have access to a blood meal.
There have been several studies exploring the behavior of bed bugs during colder temperatures, and these resilient pests are better able to adapt to lower temperatures than higher temperatures.
This is because higher temperatures/low humidity can cause rapid dehydration, which can be fatal to bed bugs.
They also like living in our temperature-controlled homes which allows an infestation to thrive even during winter and be active all year round.
Overall, bed bugs like the same temperature range that we do. Therefore, they do not hibernate as such, as long as they have access to a host for a blood meal and our homes are kept warm.
Do Bed Bugs Go Dormant In Winter?
As I mentioned above, bed bugs do not go into what we would call hibernation, but a drop in temperature inside our homes, or not having access to a host to feed on can cause them to go into a dormant state.
Most insects including bed bugs have the ability to enter a level of dormancy called diapause if their optimal temperature and humidity ranges change, or they can’t feed on blood, all of which could negatively affect them.
As the name suggests, during diapause bed bugs can slow down and pause their metabolism for a period of time and conserve energy until favorable conditions return.
But unlike other insects, the bed bug’s biology is different as it is not woken up due to seasonal changes.
Access to a person for a blood feed or an increase in temperature more suitable for them is all that is needed for them to become active again.
During diapause, nymphs and adults are able to live without feeding for around 2 to 6 months in favorable temperatures, but bed bugs can survive without a blood meal for a year or longer at 55°F or less.
This makes them an extremely resilient pest, and for people living in apartment buildings, this can be a problem.
If one unit is vacated without the infestation being treated, bed bugs will lie dormant until someone else moves in.
Often during the winter months, people don’t think the rash or marks on their skin are the results of bed bug bites as it’s often thought that you don’t get bed bugs in winter.
However, these indoor pests have just as much opportunity to feed during the winter months as we tend to stay indoors in the warmth more.
Do Bed Bugs Go Away On Their Own?
Unfortunately, bed bugs do not generally just disappear or die off as long as they have access to blood.
They can, but only if the circumstances are right, which is if they haven’t had a blood meal for around a year which is only usually the case if they are in a property that hasn’t been lived in for that length of time.
Remember, these pests have been around for thousands of years and have worked hard to adapt and survive in human environments. They are indoor pests and do not go away in winter, but will lay dormant until a food source or warmer temperatures return.
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