If you're freezing bed bug-infested items to kill the little critters, make sure you keep those items frozen for at least two days, and up to four days, depending on your freezer's temperature.
That's the takeaway of a new study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, which examined the ability of bed bugs to survive cold and freezing temperatures.
Bed bugs are able to survive the cold by lowering the freezing point of their own fluids. Knowing this, researchers examined the supercooling point and lower lethal temperature for bed bugs, as well as ability to feed again after being exposed to freezing temperatures. They found that in order to guarantee that the bed bugs die, bed bugs at all stages of life must be exposed to -16 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for 80 hours. Bed bugs will die after spending 3.5 days at -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), and they will die in just two days if they are kept at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).
In addition, researchers found that bed bug eggs are quite hardy, surviving even when they are kept at -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit) for short periods of time.
While bed bugs don't spread disease, they do bite, which can cause an allergic reaction for some people. Their bites are also extremely itchy, which can lead to scratching that then leads to an infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bed bug infestations have also been shown to induce anxiety, according to research presented at a 2011 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, as reported by ABC News.