Bed Bugs and Cold Weather Freeze Treatment

by Anonymous
(Ottawa, Ontario)

Dear BB Handbook,

I have reviewed your site and find it the most comprehensive and helpful BB resource I have come across.

I remain disappointed in lack of good information about freeze treating dwellings. Understandably most of North America's populated areas could not make use of freeze treatments. But for those cities which routinely experience temperatures of minus 15 degrees and under for a week at a time, it seems it could save incredible cost and time.

I live in Ottawa Ontario and from all I read about BBs, if I ever find them in my home, I will contact a house renovator and seek assistance in protecting pipes etc and then simply walk away from my home for a week in December or January when the forecast is minus 15 C and under.
I have never read a report of anyone doing this. Ottawa has many small apt buildings plagued with chronic BBs. Landlords tend to fumigate a few units at a times and tenants tend to bring the bugs back in their stuff.

Please keep up your good work and I would appreciate you keeping an eye out for any research or reports of freeze treating buildings for bed bugs.

Editor Comment - Bed Bugs and Cold Weather

Dear Christine,

Thank you for your suggestion regarding information on using cold weather or freeze treatments for killing bed bugs, particularly in cold weather climates.

It is difficult to find research on the use of cold temperatures
to kill bed bugs. The research that does exist provides conflicting information.

Also, bed bugs that have been acclimated to the cold can survive at lower temperatures than those that were never exposed to cold. There may also be a difference between adults and baby bed bugs or nymphs.

Bed bug eggs can survive at cold temperatures for long periods of time. One study showed that they can survive for 30 to 60 days.

One study showed that bed bugs hiding in furniture that was placed into a cold chamber died after 4 days at 0 Celsius.

Another study showed that both bed bug nymphs and adults are killed after 2 hours at -17C (1F). As with heat, it is important that if cold air is used, it has be be cold enough and left in place long enough so that the cold can penetrate any objects or places where the bed bugs might be hiding.

There are bed bug exterminators that use cold via the Cryonite system at -78C (-108F). At these extreme temperatures bed bugs are killed immediately. The system uses pressurized CO2, which also blasts bed bugs out of their hiding place.

The bottom line is that your plan is a good one in combination with other pest control methods.

We'll report on any new studies that use bed bug freeze treatment and cold air methods.

Please let us know if you come across any information on bed bugs and cold weather as well.

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Bonide for Bed Bugs

by buggetter

I have had bedbugs for more than a year. I have used Bonide since the fall. It keeps them well under control. I see about one or two a week.

Still, I see them on one specific wall in my bedroom. My landlord won't call pros, just his own guys who don't know what they are doing according to the pros I've talked to. I'm afraid even if I paid the pros the bugs would go to another apartment and come back.

Editor Comment

Sorry to hear about the bed bug apartment problem. In an apartment building, you are correct in that all adjacent apartments need to be inspected and if necessary, treated. This isn't only your next door neighbor, but apartments that are above and below yours. Until this happens, it may be impossible to eliminate bed bugs from your home.

The city of Cincinnati does have a bed bugs hot line, 1.513.591.6000, where you can ask about your rights as a tenant. By reporting the infestation, it creates a legal record that could be helpful if you need to take legal action. It is our understanding that landlords are not required to pay for bed bug treatment in Cincinnati (double check by calling the hot line).

In terms of the Bonide, the manufacturer claims it works as both a knock down product to reduce the bed bug population and as a residual spray for 4 weeks. If you see the product working, stick with it. I haven't seen any independent studies to see if it works against insecticide resistant bed bugs. Other tips are to seal your baseboards to limit the areas where bed bugs can access your apartment. You can also use a natural product such as diatomaceous earth or fossil dust around the perimeter of the room as another low cost bed bug barrier. Use a duster to apply it in a thin layer.

Best of luck.

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Alcohol and Bed Bugs

Acholol Bed Bugs Spray such as Sterifab kills bed bugs on contact and works against  insecticide resistant insects

Acholol Bed Bugs Spray such as Sterifab kills bed bugs on contact and works against insecticide resistant insects

Acholol Bed Bugs Spray such as Sterifab kills bed bugs on contact and works against  insecticide resistant insects
A combination of products are required when treating Bed Bugs

Bed bugs like to stay together. First of all they cannot fly. Squash one and blood comes out. Rust looking stains are a sign of quite a few of them. Get a spray bottle, use strong white alcohol, then later some cedar oil as they hate it. Don't use humid air. Hot water for your clothes. If you can see them in the daytime that is a good sign, it means they are disappearing and are running from the alcohol. Whatever it takes to 'freeze' them. Alcohol works for me. BB free for over a year!

Good luck.

Editor Comment

We do not recommend the use of alcohol for bed bugs as it is not completely effective. Instead we suggest:

1. Call an exterminator such as a member of the Service Magic network as they pre-screen contractors and offer free quotes.

No one product or method is completely effective, with the exception of super heating a room or building (a high cost technique called thermal remediation, which can only be used by a professional).

The most economical way to treat bed bugs yourself is with a bed bug kit, which includes the combination of bed bug products needed. You can buy an insecticide based bed bug kit, or an organic bed bug kit.

If you want to try and do it yourself, be sure to use the correct combination of methods as described below:

2. Use mechanical methods first such as vacuuming up bed bugs (use crevice tool) and a hand steamer if you have one. The steam generates enough heat to kill bed bugs and eggs. This is the first step toward reducing the size of the bed bug population. Also wash all items/linens in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer.

3. If you want to use alcohol, use an alcohol based spray that has a small amount of insecticide such as Sterifab. It has been shown to kill even insecticide resistant bed bugs and is relatively inexpensive. This is a knock down spray that will kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact.

4. Also use a residual spray at the end of your treatment. This kills bed bugs and late hatching insects. The best choice is Phantom.

5. Finish with a light layer of bed bug dust (also called fossil dust). The dust sticks to the outer shell of the bug, eventually causing death.

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Natural Home Bed Bug Treatment

by Nikki

My advice - if you suspect bed bugs, DO NOT WAIT TO VISUALLY IDENTIFY THEM, be aggressively proactive - YOU DO NOT WANT AN INFESTATION. The bites differ from other insect bites in two ways

1. You probably will not notice new bites until the evening when they begin to itch (because the anesthetic the bugs inject into you when they bite wears off).

2. The bites are often in a row or otherwise clustered.

I'm not sure my experience with bed bugs will help anyone - maybe just alarm them, although the video of the bed bug colony was alarming enough! And, believe me, YOU SHOULD BE ALARMED!

In Montreal in 1980 I lived in a block of flats. My neighbor warned me of a bed bug infestation - she said she could smell them (so could I later on). They moved through the walls from a recently vacated flat and eventually infested my house, settling in my daughters' bed room. It was an old building with many cracks and crevices and it was impossible for me to completely eliminate them.

Eventually, I threw away all of my furniture and moved. It was a horrendous experience. Now, I live in Ontario and may be facing bed bugs again. This time the critters arrived, I think, via a friend who slept at my house while her apt was fumigated. I diligently washed all bedding and sealed the blankets and pillows she used in plastic bags. However, I failed to warn my sons not to open the bags. One of them did and used the blanket to warm himself on the living room couch.

A few weeks later, my other son took to sleeping on the living room couch and began getting bitten. I have vacuumed twice and dusted the interior of the couches, floors and walls beside them and the other beds with diatomaceous earth.

Now I am waiting and watching. Hopefully, I've nipped it in the bud, but that remains to be determined. I chose diatomaceous earth because it is not toxic to people and pets unless inhaled. It kills bed bugs, the little blighters, by poking holes in their hard coverings which eventually dehydrates them and they DIE!!!!!

Unfortunately, diatomaceous earth kills insects indiscriminately, including the beneficial ones like bees and butterflies, so try not to use it out of doors.

Editor Comment on Natural Bed Bug Treatment

Thank you for sharing your helpful story. As you mentioned, any infested items should be sealed in plastic bags such as Ziploc Big Bags or in plastic bins with nap lids.

I agree that diatomaceous earth is a helpful tool in eliminating a bed bug infestation. I'd suggest using this product along with a bed bug plant extract spray, and mechanical methods such as vacuuming and steam. Diatomaceous earth and a natural spray that uses plant extracts can be economically purchased in an organic bed bug kit.

Thanks again for sharing and best of luck with your new bed bug infestation. Worst case, you can treat the couch with heat applied by an exterminator using a small heat chamber that just treats the couch.

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My process for cleaning to get rid of bed bugs

by Alexandra
(Wakefield, MA)

Step 1: Buy allergen covers, duct tape, steam cleaner, garbage bags.

Step 2: Bag all clothes in garbage bags, including those in dresser; strip the bed; seal all garbage bags with duct tape.

Step 3: Take all laundry to laundromat that is fine with specially washing clothes in hot water to kill larvae.

Step 4: Dry pillows on high heat; seal pillows in allergen covers; duct tape zippers shut.

Step 5: Wrap mattress and box spring in allergen covers; duct tape zippers shut.

Step 6: Freeze the alarm clock; possibly throw it out.

Step 7: Vacuum.

Step 8: Wash floors and furniture in mixture of water, tea tree oil, neem seed oil, and lemongrass oil. (You can go to Whole Foods for the tea tree oil and check around {GNC?} for the neem seed oil. But the 100% tea tree oil, as otherwise it comes diluted in alcohol, which, depending on what type of varnish/stain you have on your floors, may strip the varnish off of the wood.)

Step 9: Steam clean tempur-pedic mattress topper.

Step 9: Laugh maniacally.

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Protect Your Items and Save Your Electronics

by Nick

Close up of adult bed bug

Close up of adult bed bug

Close up of adult bed bug
This is as large as they get

Aadult bed bugs can live without food (your blood) for 12-18 months.

Instead of throwing out your valuable things, you can put them in plastic storage bins or cardboard boxes with sealing lids for 18 months. Any bed bugs locked inside will die. However, the boxes or tubs must be well sealed with tape so any bugs can't escape. Make sure to tape all edges and corners of the boxes.

Editors Note: You can also use Ziploc Double Zipper Big Bags.

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Bed Bug Bomb your house!

by Anonymous Reader

Seriously. I bought a new bed and it came with tag alongs YAY me. I bought a bug bomb for Bed Bugs and set it off. Then one week later did it again just for good measure and I have not had a problem since. Now if I could just get over the allergic reaction to the bites I will be golden.

Editor Note

In general, while a bed bug bomb worked in this case, in general they do not penetrate deep enough into cracks/crevices/parts of the mattress to completely eliminate a bed bug problem. I'd wait 2 to 3 weeks, to see if the bomb was able to kill the bed bug eggs, usually the toughest part of the problem. For this, either heat, steam, or a good bed bug spray such as Sterifab is the way to go.

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Exterminated bedbugs using heat!

Used simple home heaters to exterminate bed bugs! Used 2 1500 watt heaters in a 10 by 15 bedroom. This raised the temperature up to about 41 celsius (less than the preferred 45), but kept the heaters going for about 11 hours. Note that the heaters had to be spread out over the electrical circuit to avoid tripping the safety breakers, so we strung an extension cord for 2nd heater from the living room. The heaters we used did not have a thermostat feature on them, which would cause them to shut off after a certain temperature had been reached! 3 heaters would have been optimal for getting temperature up to 45

Editor Note: Thank you for sharing your story.

Thank you for sharing your bed bug heat treatments story. It is referred to as bed bug thermal remediation and is highly effective.

A room should be heated to about 120F or 48.9 degrees Celsius. This is because while 113F (45 Celsius) is needed to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs, the higher temperatures are needed to ensure that the heat penetrates walls, the mattress, box spring and other objects in the room at the required temperature.

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How to eliminate bed bugs

by Anonymous Reader

Getting rid of bed bugs is not impossible. but requires a lot of time, money and effort. It has been a terrible nightmare, and even though I think I've finally gotten rid of them (knock on wood) I'm still paranoid every time I turn out the light. It is the worst sense of violation. It's not a one day, or even one week projects. It comsumes your thoughts, and dreams.

I discovered my bed bug problem when I spotted one on the wall in my bedroom apartment in oct of 2010. At 1st I didn't know what I was looking at since I'd never seen a bedbug before. I thought it was a tick. I thought it was an odd place for a tick to be on the wall, but I killed it and shugged off the weirdness. The next day I spotted two more... and then I knew something was up.

After looking around the room I discovered them in the boxspring of my bed. I was horrified. I contacted my apartment complex and alerted a pest control company as well. When they inspected the apartment, they found them in the bed and closet. but only in the one bedroom.

They guessed based on my infestation level that they had been introduced into the room around 90 to 120 days before. The pest control company treated the apartment with pesticide, we pulled out all the carpet from the wall, treated the baseboards, windows, outlet covers and light switches. In closets, and all the drawer and framing of the bed. picture frames, and tables, nothing was left untouched. They said they had only found the bugs in the one room, but my room mate and I took this very seriously and wanted to take no chances on missing even a single one.

All the clothes, bedding, pillows, towels, ect in the apartment was bagged, taken to the laundry matt, washed and placed in a dryer for 60min or longer. The mattress was placed inside a protective cover. and the carpet and funiture was steam cleaned. Pest control brought in a large heater, and anything that we couldn't put in the dryer. (such as books, dvd's ect) went into the heater and was heated to 120F for 60 min. A very long process.

I read online that food grade diatomaceous earth drys out the bugs and they die when they come in contact with it. So I bought some, and after steaming the carpets we put down a good amount as a protective measure.. This took about a week. But at the end there was no sign of a single bed bug or egg in the apartment so it seemed worth the time and effort.

For a couple months things went back to normal....until the beginning of feb 2011 when my room mate found one single full grown bed bug crawling on her while she sat in the living room! Where had it come from? We killed the little fucker, but then proceeded to tear the apartment apart looking for the source. We were unable to locate any more in the living room, but found two in my bed! We couldn't believe we still had bed bugs!

Pest control was called back in, and retreated everything a second time. and again all the stuff in the apartment was bagged. This time I got rid of the mattress. (I wasn't taking any more chances. I have a wood bed frame, and from all the reading I've done I know that it hard to get them out of. It's a very expensive bed and I was determined to save it! I went to Home Depot and bought wood cock. I spent 3hours dismantaling the bed, and as I went along cocking ever hole and crevice I could spot. after it dryed I went back over the bed a second time for another coat and to make sure I hadn't missed any holes. After that dried.(the follopwing day) I washed the bed with a water/dawn dis soap mixture to make sure there were no eggs on the under framing of the frame. I will saying during this second time around I didn't find a single bed bug while I worked. But I was still paranoid. Just because you don't see them don't think there gone. After this second treatment, a week later my room mate and I moved out of that apartment. We didn't take the mattress wit us.

Before moving anything into the new place I covered all the outlet covers, placed DE around all the base boards, and washed and dryed everything fresh before bringing it in. I sprinkled DE inside all the dressers, and cocked the backside of them, I put the bedframe back together sprinkled DE ALL over it. I didn't push any of the funiture close enough to actually touch the wall, just in case even one bed bug came with me on it. It would have to crawl though DE to get anywhere. I do a bed bug check along all the cracks, and along the wall, and bed every other day, and dry all my clothes on extra hot just in case. I haven't found a bed bug since I moved but it's only been 6 weeks so I know I'm not in the total clear yet. So far it's cost me about 300-400$ in cleaning expenses, and the cost of a new mattress.

I'm lucky the apartment complex where I lived covered the cost of the pest control, but I think that along was upwards of 1000$ The little suckers are a terrible problem, and if you have them just know you CAN get rid of them. don't lose hope.

My best advice is stay on top of it for at least 30 to 60 days EVERY day, then twice a month make it a point to re rid yourself. just have a deep cleaning day that include bed bug inspection. if you don't they will come back.

Editor Comment Bed Bugs Apartment Treatment


Thank you for sharing your helpful story on how to eliminate bed bugs. The process you followed is exactly right.

If you lived in an apartment, it is very possible that bed bugs entered your home from an adjacent unit. Studies show there is a 20% chance that bed bugs can come from a next door neighbor and a 105 chance that bed bugs can enter an apartment that is above or below yours.

Hiring an experienced exterminator is also critical, as they know where to look. Readers can search for an experienced professional and learn what questions to ask on our bed bug exterminator page.

You are also correct to fill any holes in the baseboards, bed etc. to minimize the number of bed bug hiding places. I'd also purchase mattress, box spring and pillow bed bug covers. These will minimize the number of hiding places in the bed. Actually, as you point out more bed bugs usually hide in the box spring and hollow areas in the bed frame, than the mattress itself. Covering these does not prevent bedbugs, but limits the number of hiding places. It also saves your bedding so you don't have to throw it out if they become heavily infested.

The use of a heat chamber from your exterminator was an excellent choice. Bed bugs and bed bug eggs are killed immediately at 122F. Homeowners or renters can actually purchase their own packtite portable heat chamber. What's great about these units is that they are large enough to fit a suitcase, so any time you travel, or even any time you bring home a used item such as library books, they can be quickly made bed bug and bed bug egg free. They cost around $310, but save the $1000+ that comes with treatment.

Your use of diatomaceous earth or fossil dust is also a good idea. It should be applied with a duster in a thin layer. It is a natural, inexpensive way to provide another layer of protection.

Another inexpensive way to make sure the bed bugs are gone is to purchase some type of bed bug trap. I like climbup interceptors as they fit under each bed leg. If they remain empty for 2 weeks, the bed bug problem is gone.

Last, if it was an apartment building, many, but not all municipalities require that landlords pay for treatment. Contact your local department of health or attorney generals office. You can also check our bed bugs local resources page.

It sounds like you've armed yourself with the education needed on how to eliminate bed bugs. Best of luck avoiding any future bed bug problems.

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The Eradication of Bed Bugs

by I suck the blood back from bed bugs!

I've had the bed bugs problem for a couple of months in the Bronx NY. We live in an apartment dwelling , and they bit us up pretty badly.

I went to my local Pest control company, Broadway pestcides in Manhattan Amsterdam ave and 92st.

Purchased D force,& Mother earth- Diatomacaeous earth. Noticed a big difference, takes a little time but was a great difference . The Diatomaceous earth is made of diatoms (silica) once dusted smoothly a bug comes across it, it will destroys its exoskeleton, and eventually the pest will dehydrate N DIE!!!

I will try the the Sterifab, & Bedlam next for the Direct knock down approach, n keep D-dust for a back up.

This website HANDBOOK is very helpful, and I will advertise , email etc to anyone I know who has this problem. The b-bugs are becoming an epidemic.

When I drive around NYC, I see a lot of mattresses being thrown out for garbage. I think it could only be one thing.


Editor Comment

Thank you for the kind words regarding the Bed Bugs Handbook. It is always gratifying to hear that we have been of help.

Regarding your bed bugs problem, be sure to contact your building manager in writing and request treatment. New York City has the best laws for protecting tenants, requiring landlords to quickly respond, inspect all adjacent apartments and then treat the problem. Better yet the landlord or managing agent is required to pay for treatment. You can access these resource on our guide to New York bed bugs.

Regarding do it yourself bed bug treatment, I'd recommend purchasing a bed bug kit that contains the Sterifab, Bedlam and diatomaceous earth instead of the D-Force. The reason is that the products mentioned have all been tested against the insecticide resistant bed bugs found in New York. It's not that D-Force doesn't work, I just haven't seen research that says it does work in this area of the country. I also haven't seen research that supports a 1 spray approach vs. using both a knock down and residual spray together. Dust/diatomaceous earth products are a good option when the spray treatments are complete.

I'd also consider purchasing box spring and mattress covers to minimize the number of hiding places available and to kill any bed bugs you might have missed.

Again, thanks for your note and be sure to write to your building manager for treatment.

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Third times the charm!!! Sighs!!!!

by Kris
(ny USA)

Well since this is the third time I had an infestation from three different apartments it seems to me they have been following me for some time now just tonight I found out i had them again my box spring was infested with all stages of the darn little creepy crawly. I only just noticed it over the last few days do to the constant iching at my ankles. I tossed the box spring outside and checked the mattress it didn't seem to really have any fecal or blood stains just the box spring they were hiding and breeding along the support bars of the steel frame of the bed. From my personal experience they enjoy living in wood and often stay there.. well off to the laundry matt and sighs. All it takes is one female to start the infestation i mean seriously im clean not dirty nothing like it and three times now im going to try and sleep on just the mattress for now and see if that works if so then its off to by a new mattress and box spring and leave the plastic on it. It seems to me that hopefully the third time is the last time.

I think this was an isolated case in my new apartment meaning i had some hitch hikers from the last place I missed,, but anyway keep your fingers crossed.. I sure am...

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