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Ice, Ice Bedbug

Posted: October 25th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

The weather is getting colder, and people may be getting lulled into a false sense of security by the temperature with regard to their bedbug treatment needs. The other day, I heard someone advise someone else that bringing home used furniture was OK as long as you “put it out on the porch for a few cold days.” Alas, the mighty little bedbug is tougher than that.

Don’t be tempted to rely on cold weather or even your home fridge/freezer to rid yourself of bedbugs or prevent bedbugs unless you are prepared to follow some guidelines. Just how long do you need to freeze something to kill bedbugs, and how cold is cold enough?

Pest control professionals may be using techniques like Cryonite, which is an icy freezing spray created with liquid CO2. The spray temperature is about -110 ºF. The surface of the target will be brought down to about -20 º to -40 ºF, and theoretically, the spray clings long enough to effectively crystallize the water in the pest’s cells and kill it. The advantages to a technique like this are that there is no residue or chemical hazard left behind, and the spray vapor can penetrate into crevices and cracks, like baseboards.

However, you can rest assured that you aren’t about to replicate this technique at home by loading your dustbuster with ice cubes and setting it from suck to blow. You’ll often hear suggestions to “just” throw something in the freezer for a day, and of course anytime there is a “just” in a suggestion, you can begin to guess at its effectiveness.

Bedbugger points out that entomologist Lou Sorkin (who is fast becoming our hero) froze bedbugs for 5 days at -29 ºF. Some first instars (a bedbug moulting stage prior to sexual maturity)  lived after the first 4 hours and took up to 5 days to die. The average home freezer operates at about 0 ºF. If it’s the one attached to your fridge, chances are you are also opening it several times a day, which creates temperature fluctuations.

You can bet that your porch is not going to remain below zero for up to 5 days at a time unless you live in an incredibly punishing climate. Maybe if you can see Russia from your house.

Home cold treatment is certainly better than no treatment at all, but consider leaving any items in the freezer completely undisturbed for up to 2 weeks prior to considering them free and clear. Check your manufacturer’s booklet for details on your particular model. You might consider testing that claim with a thermometer as well. A freezer that is full is more efficient in cooling than one that only contains a few items, so that’s another thing to consider.

It’s possible to buy ultra-low temperature freezers, but of course you have to weigh out whether the cost of something like a separate chest freezer justifies not replacing the item in question. And these freezers take up extra space, which just may not be an option in a city apartment.

And freezing electronics would fall under the “never a good idea” category. We also do not advise freezing household pets and children, which should go without saying, but one never knows. This is the internet.

In short: the data on DIY home freezing is not great. We’d probably gamble on 2 weeks at 0 ºF, undisturbed completely, in a packed freezer if there were no better options. And we wouldn’t take things out of the freezer without leaving them sealed them up tight in plastic bags until we were sure the rest of the infestation in the home were contained. We definitely would not rely on “just” leaving something on a porch or “in the car in winter.”



4 Comments on “Ice, Ice Bedbug”

  1. 1 HJM said at 4:33 pm on October 25th, 2010:

    It seems like heat is the heat is the way to go. I am moving to Arizona.

  2. 2 HBK said at 9:33 pm on October 25th, 2010:

    I’m moving to the one country where no bedbugs exist. When I find it.

  3. 3 Nix Bedbugs » Blog Archive » Ice, Ice Bedbug – Bed Bugs Intel said at 2:03 am on October 26th, 2010:

    […] seen on : Nix Bedbugs » Blog Archive » Ice, Ice Bedbug As seen on related posts Ads by Google – Bedbug Pesticide – Bed Bug Infestation – How Kill […]

  4. 4 Nix Bedbugs » Blog Archive » Oh, the holiday horror said at 10:57 am on December 23rd, 2010:

    […] disabused my husband of the notion that all we have to do to prevent bringing home bedbugs is to leave the bags in the car in the cold for a day or two. The suitcases are getting bagged, and everything’s going straight into the […]


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