November 16, 2018 by
We all have a lot on our plates in the winter time. Work tends to get hectic, heating bills at home tend to rise, Christmas shopping causes stress and anxiety, and you’ll have to constantly be on guard against catching bugs from friends and family. With all of this to worry about, the last thing you want to add into the mix is the risk of catching bedbugs. While bedbugs can’t physically harm you (outside of itchy bites) and they don’t carry diseases, they’re notorious for being tough to get rid of and for causing lots of sleepless nights.
Luckily, bedbugs aren’t as active in winter – or are they? It’s a commonly-held belief that you are only at risk of bedbugs in the summer months, but is this actually true? With over 15 years of experience in pest control, we think we’re well placed to give you the answers, so read on to get to the bottom of it!
Are Bedbugs Active in Winter?
Unfortunately, yes. Bedbugs are incredibly resilient and can stay active in temperatures as low as 7°C. If it gets any colder, they can actually lower the freezing point of their bodily fluids to survive in temperatures as cold as -17°C for days at a time! As temperatures inside your house will always be higher than this, even in winter, that means the risk of a bedbug infestation is still very much present through the colder months.
Bedbugs do prefer warmer places and will naturally gravitate towards warmer things, which means they might be attracted to your body heat if you’re sat near them on public transport. Be aware of this when you’re out and about – more on this later.
Where Does the Myth That Bedbugs Aren’t Active in Winter Come From?
Bedbugs certainly greatly prefer warmer weather as they can reproduce much faster in the heat. This means that, once the bedbugs have entered your home, the infestation can spread and take hold much quicker. However, you’re still at risk of actually catching bedbugs in winter – it’ll just take you longer to notice them! If you’re worried about catching bedbugs in winter, you should definitely read our guide to identifying bedbugs so you know what to look out for.
How Can I Avoid Catching Bedbugs in Winter?
While bedbugs breed more slowly in winter, the cold weather isn’t all bad news for them. There are a few things that we do more commonly in winter that put us more at risk of catching bedbugs. Here are a few things you should look out for this winter.
Public transport can be heaven for a bedbug – they’re warm, full of comfy seats, and they have a steady supply of people coming and going all day long. Bear this in mind around Christmastime, when public transport gets much busier as people hit the high street in search of Christmas gifts. Of course, it’s not practical to suggest that you completely avoid public transport if it’s your only option, but you can still protect yourself while you’re on there. Before you sit on a bus or tube seat, run your hand across the seat and check for signs of unwanted guests. Bedbugs are messy creatures and will leave empty shells (from when they shed their skin), tiny white eggs, and reddish-brown, gritty droppings wherever they go. If you suspect a bus seat may have bedbugs in it, stay standing and alert the driver if you can.
Buying Used Clothes and Furniture
Another common way people end up with bedbugs in winter is by buying second-hand clothing and furniture. Buying used clothing – especially coats and jumpers – along with second-hand furniture thanks to post-Christmas sales tends to spike in winter, which can put you at risk of bringing bedbugs into your home. Now, don’t be too alarmed; there’s nothing wrong with buying second-hand things and the vast majority of pre-owned items are perfectly fine. However, it’s worth double checking before you buy just to make sure you don’t have any bedbugs hitching a ride on your new sofa! Make sure you check every nook and cranny of your new coat, sofa, or whatever else before you bring it home.
Going to Hotels
For many people, winter is a time to get away on a festive break. Unfortunately, many people can come back from a winter holiday with unwanted baggage in the form of a bedbug infestation! No matter where you’re staying on a winter break, you should always check your room thoroughly for bedbugs as soon as you arrive. A common misconception about bedbugs is that they’re a sign of poor hygiene – this isn’t true! Bedbugs are found in five-star hotels and dingy B&Bs alike, so it doesn’t matter how clean your hotel room is, it could still have a bedbug problem.
As soon as you arrive in your hotel room, put your luggage in the bathroom (bathrooms tend to have hard surfaces which bedbugs don’t live in) and do a quick check of all the soft furnishings in the room. This includes every nook and cranny of your bed, carpet, and chairs. It might sound excessive, but the couple of minutes effort it takes is a small price to pay if it means you avoid bringing bedbugs home with you.
How to Treat a Bedbug Infestation
If you start to feel itchy for no reason and you notice small bites appear on your body in clusters or line patterns, it’s worth checking your mattress for bedbugs. Make sure you check inside your pillows, under your mattress, and around your headboard. Again, you’re looking for bedbug shells, eggs, or droppings, as well as the creatures themselves. As with any infestation, the earlier you catch a bedbug problem, the easier it is to treat, so it’s important to check as soon as you suspect anything.
Bedbugs aren’t easy to get rid of as they reproduce so quickly, even in winter. Their rapid lifecycle means that, even if you wipe out every last bedbug, the chances are there will still be a few eggs left ready to hatch and start the infestation all over again. This makes re-treating bedbug infestations incredibly important, but you can do it yourself if you know what you’re doing. It’s highly recommended that you pick up a bedbug kit that gives you several methods of attack against the bedbugs so that one method can mop up any surviving bedbugs the other one misses. You should also re-treat the area several times to make sure the infestation doesn’t come back.
In addition, it’s also recommended that you use some Biopren spray which acts as a growth inhibitor for bedbugs. This stops bedbug eggs from hatching while also preventing hatched bedbugs from maturing and laying more eggs.
Bedbug infestations are the last thing you want in winter, especially with all the other stresses that affect us all during this time of year. However, with a bit of care and common sense, they can easily be avoided. For more advice on getting rid of bedbugs, you can give us a call on 0800 091 3171.