Help! I Got Bed Bugs on My Outdoor Furniture
Bed bugs have this specific name for a reason. It prompts us to assume that they can be found in our beds only, right?
But this can’t be any further from the truth. Truth is, bed bugs can hide in one too many places (“preferably”, near their food source, of course) and can easily infest any type of furniture. This includes outdoor furniture too.
Now then, let’s see how this happens and most-importantly, why?
Read on, and Summer House 24 will help you get a clearer picture of why bed bugs can live outside the house and learn about their survival instincts and skills. We’ll also cover some important tips on how to combat and prevent a bed bugs infestation in your garden and outdoor furniture.
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What are bed bugs and can they live outside?
Bed bugs are minute blood-sucking insects of reddish-brown colour and about 4mm in size. These bugs can’t fly, nor jump. They crawl. But even while crawling they are able to cover significant distances. This means that your backyard is far from safe.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) prefer warm environments and that is why they are mostly found indoors. Like any creature, they need to feed and human blood is their favourite meal. They need blood, as it is a condition for their survival as species (they can’t otherwise lay eggs nor reproduce). Some bed bugs live on other mammals’ blood, like that of bats.
On that note, bed bugs would suck on any type of blood, in order to survive, until they find the right host – you. As reported by The Guardian, in 2019, the UK experienced a severe increase in infestations, which is a worrying sign.
The irritating insects can end up near your home and colonise outdoor inventory. such as:
- Pieces of upholstered furniture;
- Wooden seating;
- Crevices in benches;
- And more.
For inspiration, read:
- How Can a Gazebo Make a Difference in Your Garden?
- Log Cabins With a Wood Stove or a Fireplace
- Wooden Summerhouses – Which Kind is Best For You?
These pesky creatures can survive for up to 5 months without any food. By that time they should find the right moment to move in your property, where food is, of course. Otherwise, they have to find an animal host and just compromise in the sake of survival.
But before we dive deeper in outdoor inventory such as upholstery, furniture and other inventory.
How do bed bugs manage to stay alive and kicking outside?
Bed bugs and their survival skills
Bed bugs are notorious for their ability to live without food for long periods.
Adults can survive without a blood meal for up to 5 months. Under certain conditions, they can even hold on for a whole year in low temperatures, as their body temperature drops to a state of hibernation.
Their offsprings, however, need to feed often in order to get through all nymph stages and reach adulthood.
Bed bugs are known to feed mostly at night but they can adjust their feeding habits and routine, in order to survive, commented a Fantastic bed bug exterminator. An “outdoor” bed bug will take a bite from you during the day if this means getting their “bloody” breakfast and finding a faster route to your home by hitching on shoes, pants or even a scarf. Furthermore, the insects not only tolerate cold but can also survive in a freezer for up to two weeks, he added.
So, with these important skills, no wonder that bed bugs can exist outdoors for ages, despite being hungry and even exposed to frost.
Where exactly can bed bugs live outdoors?
Bed bugs like dark and hidden places to lay their eggs. So, if any structure or a piece of furniture outside can offer them small holes, crevices and cracks, as well as creases, edges and folds near stitches, these bloodthirsty pests will readily settle in.
This means that you can spot the signs of bed bugs around baseboards in outdoor buildings, among general clutter in your shed or garage and on your garden furnishings.
How bed bugs end up on your garden furniture?
The insects can cover relatively significant ground crawling. They really don’t need to be super fast to reach from A to B or in other words, from your neighbour’s property to your patio sofa. Also, bugs love hitchhiking on people’s clothes, travel bags, and even pets.
Last but not least, you may bring a family of bed bugs along with that second-hand garden swing chair you fell in love with.
Types of patio furniture and bed bugs
As we’ve mentioned above, bed bugs are not that picky as to what type of material they would be happy to invade, with a few exceptions (vinyl, plastic, metal). Any other organic or synthetic material, which provides them with safe harbourage and relative warmth, could become their temporary habitat.
The blood-sucking crawlies will linger about on your garden possessions until they sense the presence of a food source nearby, make a move, and strike. Often, that might not be even necessary, as the delicious blood meal simply comes at a silver platter. This could be you, swinging in the garden chair with your book or cat, hoping to steal the extra sunlight.
The insects can live undisturbed on your upholstered garden furniture, on your favourite rattan sun lounger, on any pieces made from wicker, etc.
Can bed bugs live in wood furniture?
Yes. You can also get bed bugs on wooden furniture, especially if these are covered with comfy upholstered padding.
Note that bed bugs can live in the legs or in hollows and cracks around the base of wooden seating and tables right in your garden. And yes, if you wonder if bed bugs can live in cushions, the answer is yes. You may notice bed bugs in couch cushions and outdoor sofas.
How to exterminate bed bugs on outdoor furniture?
Bed bugs don’t like extreme temperatures, but unfortunately, it’s never hot or cold enough outside (at least in the UK) for them to just die out on their own. For instance, their eggs, which are hardier than the insect itself, are no longer viable at over 50 and below -17 degrees Celsius. However, there could bed bugs in the desert or in the Arctic Circle.
So, what can you do to kill them?
There are several DIY methods that you could try to exterminate the minuscule vermin, depending on the type of garden furniture you’ve got. Outdoor wooden and rattan pieces can be thoroughly cleaned (vacuumed) and then, varnished.
Any remaining live bugs and eggs (after vacuuming) will not stand a chance against a nice coat of oil based varnish.
Soft furniture can be steam cleaned and disinfected with relative success. Removable cushion covers can be de-bed-bugged at high temperature in the washer and dryer. Still, your best bet, Don’t wait too long. Resort bed bugs exterminators as soon as you see signs of a colony outbreak. Specialised companies have the know-how on using the right insecticide and can provide an effective heat treatment in extreme cases.
Note that if your gardening furniture needs to be treated with heat, they should be stored in a container of some sort. Something to actually keep the heat rising. You can’t perform a heat treatment out in the open.
Tips for prevention of an outdoor bed bugs infestation:
When it comes to preventing your outdoor furniture and garden features from a bed bugs infestation, you should follow very much the same steps as you would inside your property.
- Vigilance – inspect regularly your outdoor furniture for any bed bugs signs;
- Go new – avoid buying second-hand items, especially from dubious retailers;
- Cleaning maintenance – regularly clean your outdoor furniture (vacuum, wash removable covers, steam clean, jet wash) and store properly;
- Discourage pets – don’t leave cushions out for pests might snuggle down on them (their blood is as good as any and will serve as a bed bugs’ evening meal);
- Say no to hoarding – declutter outdoor buildings, sheds, garages and if you suspect a bed bugs infestation on any old furniture – just throw it away.
Now you know that bed bugs are some of the best survivalists among insects. So, to prevent them from moving indoors with you, make sure to check regularly your outdoor area, too.