Does Sunlight Kill Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are becoming an increasing matter of concern in the US. They used to be almost unheard of here in the States, but lately, they have become more common in US homes and rental properties. Travel has brought them to the US in suitcases or in clothing, and they seem to be here to stay.
There are not many effective solutions besides pesticides to deal with an advanced bed bug infestation, but there are some good preventative measures that you can take to keep bed bugs from becoming an issue in your home.
One of the most effective treatments for bed bug infestations is heat, but sunlight can also be used in certain circumstances to get get rid of bed bugs and their eggs.
Can Bed Bugs Survive in Sunlight?
Yes, sadly, bed bugs can survive in sunlight. They will avoid making an appearance when it is sunny and will scurry and hide to get away from the light. While you might be able to kill bed bugs with sunlight if you placed them indirect light in a small container, this is not a realistic way to kill all the bugs involved in an infestation.
The sun itself does not kill them. They just find it to be uncomfortable and will avoid it at all costs. The heat-related to the sun is what they are afraid of, and that is why heat is the preferred method used when pesticides are not an option.
Can Sunlight Kill Bed Bug Eggs?
Your light and your heat need to be uniform if you want to kill all of the bed bugs in your home or bedroom. This is why it is usually necessary to use a combination of heat, light, and insecticides to get rid of bed bugs. They are so tiny that it can be hard to get to all of the bugs in a room without the help of chemicals.
If you have small items that have been infested with bed bugs, there may be a sunlight strategy that can work. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, If you have collected items that can't be damaged by sunlight like clothing or stuffed animals, put them in a black plastic bag and expose them to direct sunlight. Depending on the weather, this can be enough to kill adult bed bugs and their eggs.
However, this strategy can take a couple of days, so you may need to be patient.
What Temperature Kills Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs die at 117-120 degrees. This means that the most common treatment for bed bug infestation is to heat the room or the home to this temperature for an extended period. This is one of the only methods besides chemicals and insecticides that will kill bed bugs for sure.
One of the biggest advantages to heat treatment to kill bed bugs is that you will not be exposing your home and family to harsh chemicals, and you will be able to prevent damage to your paint and your carpets that sprays might cause.
Heat is also able to kill bed bugs in your clothing. If you have clothes that have been impacted by bed bug infestation, you can dry them on high heat in your dryer for 30 minutes. This will kill the bed bugs, and then you can wash your clothes again to remove the debris.
If you are determined to save your infested mattress and box spring, you will need to have a pest control company come and treat the mattress with heat and steam to bring the bed bugs to the surface and kill them. Unfortunately, just heat-treating a mattress is sometimes not enough to kill bed bugs because they will burrow into the deeper layers of the mattress to hide from the heat.
Different Ways to Use Heat Against Bed Bugs
There are many ways to use heat to kill bed bugs (and pests like cockroaches). If you are working on killing them throughout a large home, it is common to use large heaters that will heat the entire house to 117-120 degrees. The heat treatment process typically takes between six and eight hours.
Heat can also get bed bugs out of sheets and clothing by tumbling these items for a half-hour on high heat in the dryer. Of course, you will then have to wash them and dry them again to ensure that you have gotten all of the bugs out of them and have killed any particularly tough individuals.
For shoes and other items that cannot be washed, you can use a hot box to kill bed bugs. You will put items that cannot handle the washer and dryer into a sealed box and blow hot air into the box with a blow dryer or other source of heated air. This must be done for a full half-hour to ensure that all the bed bugs have been killed.
Heat is the Best Way to Kill Bed Bugs Besides Pesticides
If you want to avoid using chemicals in your home but need to attend a bed bug infestation, heat is your best option. Heat is a major weakness of the bed bug, and being able to heat your home or your possessions to 117 degrees or hotter will kill bed bugs every time.
Getting rid of bed bugs can be tough, but with the right combination of clean-up techniques and heat and insecticides, you can get rid of the bed bugs in your home. Always be sure that you keep your home clean and sanitary to prevent bed bugs from making a return after removing them from your house. If your bed bug problem has gotten too out of hand it is best to get in touch with a pest control professional as soon as possible.