When you're fighting a bed bug infestation, diapause isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. Diapause is a form of dormancy that allows bed bugs to disappear from view and regain their health. Understanding diapause helps predict the ebb and flow of bed bug populations during infestations and will help eradicate a bed bug population.
Diapause Makes Things Tricky
Diapause is a type of dormancy that occurs in insects. A dormant bed bug may appear dead at a glance, but it's in a state of hibernation. When treating for bed bugs, especially if you're self-treating, diapause poses an issue.
This state of dormancy allows a bed bug to live through situations that may otherwise kill it. A bed bug will remain dormant until either the environment changes or the bed bug succumbs to the environment and dies.
What's worse is bed bugs can enter a state of diapause in all life stages — even as eggs. Most bed bugs live to be 2 to 4 months old under natural conditions and from 6 to 12 months old under ideal conditions. These insects can go dormant during their lifespan for months at a time if the situation calls for it.
Incorrectly using insecticides, freezing, or steaming bed bugs will cause the insects to go into dormancy instead of killing them. Meaning later on down the road, you'll have a reinfestation once those bugs wake up.
Environmental Stressors Cause Diapause
Unfavorable environmental situations cause bed bugs to become dormant. Unfortunately, you can bring on some of these stressors when you try to kill bed bugs.
It takes sustained temperatures of at least 95°F for several days to even begin to kill bed bugs. Any temperatures slightly below this may cause bed bugs to go dormant, but they'll be right back in action when the temperature goes down.
Heat treatments are one of the most reliable ways to eliminate bed bugs. These treatments avoid diapause by using a higher temperature to kill bed bugs in a shorter time frame. Heat treatments also penetrate the walls to kill bed bugs that may already be in a dormant state.
One of the initial pieces of advice you'll hear when you're dealing with bed bugs is to freeze contaminated clothes to kill the bugs. Bed bugs are cold-blooded, and freezing temperatures will definitely slow them down.
However, temperatures must remain cold enough long enough to kill bed bugs by freezing them. Frequent opening and closing of your freezer will cause the freezer's temperature to fluctuate enough to keep the bed bugs alive. Make sure your freezer can stay below 3°F for at least 80 hours to kill the bugs.
If you use a pest treatment to kill bed bugs but you don't use enough treatment, a bed bug will enter a dormant state to recover. Bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to pest treatments and even have developed behaviors to avoid areas treated with pesticides.
These bugs will go dormant just long enough for the pesticide to fade.
If you were to leave your home for a vacation and come back, it would be highly likely that bed bugs would be in a state of diapause. A bed bug feeds at least once between molt stages but can feed as often as once per day.
During a bed bug's dormancy, their metabolism slows down. When bed bugs' food source isn't present, they're capable of waiting for months at a time for their next meal.
The key to getting rid of an infestation is to closely follow treatment guidelines so that the bed bugs will go from dormant to dead.
Unseen bed bugs are still a threat. If you suspect bed bugs might be dormant in your home, especially if you see signs of reinfestation, contact No Bull Bed Bug Control to discuss your treatment options.