When winter rolls around in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, residents get a reprieve from many insects. The biting and stinging insects usually found outdoors on lawns and in gardens temporarily disappear, and most people don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. The lack of outdoor insects begs an interesting question, though: what happens to bed bugs during the winter months?

Do Insects Hibernate?

Insects, from mosquitoes to bed bugs and beyond, don’t migrate, nor do they hibernate in a traditional sense.  Instead, they enter a low-energy state referred to as diapause. In this state, the bugs put a pause on their development until the temperatures warm up and they can return to pre-winter activity levels.

All of the biting and stinging insects usually found in summer gardens are dramatically impacted by diapause. Mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, and other insects are virtually eliminated during the cold winter months because they spend their entire lives outdoors where the freezing temperatures have their most direct effects.

What About Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs don’t live outside. Instead, they live almost exclusively in people’s homes where the temperatures stay warm year-round. As a result, bed bugs don’t usually enter diapause. Since the temperatures indoors mimic those of spring or summer, these annoying pests continue to feed and breed throughout the winter months.

Bed Bug Spread During the Holidays

The problem isn’t just that bed bugs continue to be active through the winter, it’s that they also tend to spread more prolifically during these months, and especially during the holiday season. Each time someone travels to visit loved ones, there’s a chance that person will bring bed bugs home from a hotel or a guest room. The more people travel, the greater the chances are that they will pick up bed bugs somewhere along the way. College students heading home for the holidays are also a frequent source of bed bug infestations.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread?

Bed bugs can spread to new locations by climbing onto objects, laying their eggs in or on them, and even by hitchhiking on unfortunate visitors’ clothing. They’re often found in hotel rooms, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not just cheap motels that go through bed bug infestations. These insects show no preference when it comes to class, and they can be hard to spot.

How to Protect the Home

Since bed bugs remain active throughout the year, there’s no wrong time to come up with a plan for protecting a home from infestations. In addition to checking hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs, anyone traveling for the winter holidays must take precautions, such as traveling with duffel bags instead of suitcases and washing everything upon getting home. Residents should also follow these tips for bed bug control within the home.

  • Vacuum Often

Vacuuming the carpets and rugs once a week can help to eliminate any hidden bed bugs that may have found their way into the house on clothing or in luggage. If there are already signs of bed bugs in the home, vacuum daily instead and be sure to empty the vacuum bag immediately. Failing to do so will allow the trapped bugs to resume their spread.

  • Reduce Clutter

Bed bugs like to hide, which means a cluttered home will be more prone to severe infestations. Focus on the sleeping area when decluttering. Removing objects within eight feet of the bed can help to prevent the bugs from spreading.

  • Think Twice About Buying Second-Hand Goods

Buying used is great for the environment and consumers’ budgets, but it’s not very good for preventing the spread of bed bugs. Utilize extreme care when purchasing second-hand clothing, ensuring that it gets washed before entering the home. Try to avoid buying used furniture if possible, and if that’s not possible, inspect all of the seams and every crevice for signs of insects or frass.

  • Know When to Contact a Professional

All of the cleaning and decluttering in the world isn’t going to put a stop to a bed bug infestation that’s already underway. If residents are waking up with bites, it’s time to look into bed bug pest control companies. Bed bug infestations are not problems that can be handled effectively using DIY measures, alone. It will take professional bed bug treatments to get the problem under control.

Sustainable Pest Can Help

Sustainable Pest Systems has a reputation for providing bed bug control services that go above and beyond the norm. This company uses eco- and family-friendly products and guarantees its work, so there’s nothing to lose. Call (914) 444-8152 to explore pest control options for winter.