Does Freezing Kill Bed Bugs

Freezing Bed Bugs

Freezing Bed Bugs

Yes; Freezing does Kill Bed Bugs

In the given context, the reference to “Does Freezing Kill Bed Bugs ” and related discussions is typically associated with research and presentations by experts in the field of urban entomology and pest management. These experts often include entomologists who focus on the control and management of bed bug infestations.

Does Freezing Kill Bed Bugs: An Effective Control Method


Bed bugs (*Cimex lectularius*) have become a significant concern in urban pest management due to their resilience and ability to infest various environments. One effective method of controlling bed bugs is freezing. This method leverages the bed bugs’ sensitivity to low temperatures to eliminate infestations without the use of chemical pesticides.

Mechanism of Action

Freezing bed bugs involves exposing them to temperatures low enough to cause mortality. Bed bugs are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature and biological functions are influenced by external temperatures. Exposure to subzero temperatures can cause their bodily fluids to freeze, leading to cellular damage and death.

Optimal Freezing Conditions

Research has shown that bed bugs can be effectively killed by maintaining temperatures at or below -18°C (0°F) for a minimum of 4 days. However, more rapid results can be achieved by exposing bed bugs to temperatures of -20°C (-4°F) or lower for a shorter duration. It is crucial to ensure that the temperature penetrates all areas where bed bugs and their eggs might be hiding to achieve complete eradication.

Application in Pest Management

Freezing is a versatile method that can be used in various scenarios:
Small Items: Personal belongings such as clothing, bedding, and small furniture can be placed in a freezer to kill bed bugs. Items should be left in the freezer for at least 4 days to ensure effectiveness.
Heat Chambers: Portable heat chambers that also offer freezing capabilities can be used to treat larger items and furniture. These chambers are designed to evenly distribute cold air, ensuring all parts of the infested item reach the necessary temperature.
Professional Services: Pest management professionals may offer freezing services as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. This method can be particularly useful in environments where chemical treatments are not desirable, such as homes with sensitive individuals or in facilities like schools and healthcare institutions.

Advantages of Freezing

Chemical-Free: Freezing provides a non-toxic alternative to chemical pesticides, making it suitable for sensitive environments.
Effective: When done correctly, freezing can kill all life stages of bed bugs, including eggs, nymphs, and adults.
Preserves Items: Unlike some chemical treatments, freezing does not leave residues or odors and does not damage most materials, making it ideal for treating personal belongings and delicate items.

Challenges and Considerations

Access and Logistics: Freezing may not be practical for large infestations or items that cannot be easily moved. In such cases, a combination of methods may be necessary.
Consistency: Ensuring consistent and adequate temperatures throughout the infested item can be challenging. Professional equipment is often more reliable than household freezers for this purpose.
Cost: The cost of freezing services or equipment can be a consideration for some individuals or businesses.


Freezing is a valuable tool in the arsenal against bed bugs, offering an effective, chemical-free method of control. By understanding the optimal conditions and practical applications of freezing, pest management professionals and individuals can effectively incorporate this method into their bed bug eradication strategies.

Key Researchers on Bed Bug Freezing

1. Dr. Michael F. Potter – An entomologist at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Potter is well-known for his extensive research on bed bugs and pest management. His work often includes practical methods for controlling bed bugs, including thermal treatments like freezing.

2. Dr. Susan Jones – An entomologist at Ohio State University, Dr. Jones has numerous publications on bed bugs. Her research includes various aspects of bed bug biology, behavior, and control methods, potentially including the use of freezing to kill bed bugs.

3. Dr. Alvaro Romero – An associate professor of urban entomology at New Mexico State University, Dr. Romero’s work focuses on pests in the southwest USA, including bed bugs. His research covers integrated pest management strategies, which may encompass freezing as a control method.

Key Publications

Here are several key publications and sources specifically discussing the effects of freezing on bed bugs, including their efficacy and practical applications, along with the URLs:

1. **Olson et al. (2013)**: This study examines the cold tolerance of bed bugs across various life stages. It was found that bed bugs are freeze-intolerant, with all life stages dying at temperatures below their supercooling points, which range from -21.3°C to -30.3°C. The lower lethal temperature (LLT_{99}) was determined to be -31.2°C. The study highlights that at conditions above this threshold, mortality depends on both the temperature and the duration of exposure, emphasizing the need for sustained low temperatures for effective control. You can access the full study here.

2. **Purdue University Extension**: This guide discusses the use of cold as a method to kill bed bugs, noting that exposure to temperatures below 0°F (-19°C) for at least four days can be effective. However, it mentions that such treatments are often impractical for most people, although new technologies using liquid carbon dioxide to create super-cooled “snow” offer promising, immediate solutions without leaving residue. More details can be found [here.

3. **Ohio State University Extension**: This source reiterates the findings of Olson et al. and provides practical advice for employing cold treatments against bed bugs. It mentions that bed bugs can tolerate short periods at 5°F (-15°C) but require continuous exposure to 32°F (0°C) or lower for several days to ensure control. The full guide is available here.

These sources provide comprehensive insights into the efficacy of freezing as a method to control bed bugs, supporting the claim with empirical data and practical recommendations.