Bed bugs in the air conditioner are a nightmare for you and the whole house or building. They have been known to inhabit new places and spread from room to room or adjacent structures through the air conditioner. It’s even worse that air conditioners, especially vents are hard to reach and offer hiding places for bed bugs.

Among the most asked questions is if air conditioners can kill bed bugs. These bugs are some of the most resilient bugs on the planet, as bed bug history suggests, that they are capable of surviving the worst conditions. Other factors also come into play like, whether you can sustain extreme temperatures to completely eliminate them. This post takes a look at six key questions that are critical when dealing with bed bugs in the air conditioner.

Can your air conditioner kill bed bugs?

Turning on your air conditioner does not exactly kill bed bugs. There are a few cases of success in this. However, there would be a lot you would need to put into consideration to achieve some sort of success in this. Even then, a 100% mortality of bed bugs is virtually impossible using your standard air conditioning system.

According to a study, a 100% mortality of bed bugs was only achieved when temperatures were raised to above 45°C for 25 minutes. Yet another study showed that death of bed bugs through freezing could only be achieved if the room was kept at constant temperatures of about -7° C for more than a week. Mortality of bed bug eggs required at least 3 weeks to effectively kill them all. Assuming your standard air conditioner can achieve this, there are still other stumbling blocks to its success.

First, there are inhabitants in that building other than you than use it. Setting your air conditioner to these extreme temperatures for prolonged time is detrimental to human health. High temperatures of above 37°C (99° F) have the potential to cause heat stroke or even discomfort at the very least. On the other hand, exposure to extreme low temperatures according to research will cause respiratory asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, conjunctivitis, heart disease, neurological disease or even death. Considering this price to pay for a bed bug free building, would it be worth it? Would other methods better serve you and at lower risk?

Can bed bugs live in an air conditioner?

Bed bugs are hard-to-kill critters that can survive in harsh environments. Air conditioners are not an exception to this fact. Proximity to human relaxation spots and sleeping areas influence where infestations will be. Air conditioners and ducts offer suitable dark and moist conditions that favor bed bug breeding and infestation. These air conditioners offer crevices, joints, and grooves that these bed bugs can easily hide and breed undisturbed.

dirty air conditioner bugs coming in
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Air conditioners, especially air ducts, also offer conduits for bed bugs to move from one room or apartment to the others for new breeding zones. They are especially attracted to humans for feeding. This is why fumigating one room and leaving the other is ineffective and may worsen the situation by starting new infestations elsewhere.

How long does it take for bed bugs to multiply in an air conditioner?

According to research, bed bugs lay eggs and multiply slower than other bugs and insects like houseflies. At suitable summer room temperature, engorged female bed bugs will lay about 1-7 eggs per day and 130 in her lifetime. The eggs take about 4-5 weeks to hatch and grow into adult bed bugs, while the housefly will mature in only 10 days. So at average room temperatures, a single pregnant bed bug can give rise to about 60 developing infant bed bugs in an air conditioner.

How long a bed bug infestation takes to manifest is dependent on various factors. According to a study, a sharp rise in temperatures to sub-lethal levels has shown a decrease in bed bug feeding and sometimes inhibited their development. This, in turn, limited their ability to reproduce. The female’s ability to heal after the traumatic insemination will also influence their ability to reproduce. A research report, suggests that repeated insemination of a female bed bug with slow healing would slow down its reproduction ability and sometimes even kill them in the process. Other factors include;

  • Previous elimination and fumigation attempts
  • Access to dark and hiding areas
  • Proximity to a host for feeding

Can you prevent bed bugs from crawling through your air conditioner?

Bed bugs can crawl through your air conditioner especially if you live in an infested apartment complex. Here are some tips to help you prevent bed bugs from crawling through your air conditioner:

  • Ensuring that there the air conditioner has been correctly and properly installed in your house. This would ensure that there are no grooves, crevices and cracks for bed bugs to hide in. It should also be a little further from your bed to ensure any potential infestation would not reach it.
  • Seal all gaps and cracks in and around the air conditioner. For this, there are many available options. You could use caulk, cement, or rubber roofing boot to seal off any cracks and crevices around it. This will reduce bed bug hiding spots and save you energy loss.
  • Install screens over your air ducts. Remember that bed bugs sometimes use air ducts to cross between rooms and apartments. Putting a screen over the air ducts will prevent their access to your room. For better results, install at the far ends of the air ducts.
  • Ensure that your air conditioner is clean and dry. Bed bugs thrive in hot and dump environments. The build-up of dirt, moisture, and subsequent rust will favor bed bug infestation.

Can I maintain a high-temperature tune-up?

This question is whether you can keep your A/C temperatures up to fight bed bugs. Maintaining exceptionally high and low temperatures using your air conditioner may be costly in the long run. The electricity bill and health of occupants would likely outweigh the benefits you would get from discouraging bed bug infestations.

The air conditioner size, functionality, and power input would also influence whether heat and freezing temperatures are an option for you. Industrial and tall buildings with powerful A/C may be strong enough to achieve extreme heat and kill some bed bugs. However, your average air conditioner may just keep it either low or high enough to not only cost you but also annoy other building inhabitants. Keeping the temperatures at an extreme low for more than a week will only cause you and your loved ones health problems.

How can you get rid of bed bugs in your air conditioner?

There are better ways to rid your air conditioner of bed bugs. These options are cheaper and more practical than tuning up temperatures and will be more effective in the long run. Your choice will depend on the kind of air conditioner, infestation size, budget, and your personal needs. You may be an eco-friendly folk who would not prefer insecticides and desiccants. Consider these options;

  • Vacuuming: Vacuuming to remove bed bugs is a cheaper and environmentally friendly option that reduces the bed bug population in your air conditioner.
  • Silica gel: Silica gel is a powerful desiccant that destroys the outer cuticles of bed bugs, leaving them to dry out and die. The advantage of this is that it has long-lasting effects as long as it is placed within bed bugs’ path, as it requires contact to kill them.
  • Rubbing alcohol. Alternatively, you could sanitize your air conditioner with isopropyl alcohol to kill bed bugs. It dries out bed bugs and eventually kills them.
  • Essential oils are also a great way to eliminate bed bugs in A/C. At high concentrations, essential oils kill bed bugs when they come into contact with them. Visit our website to look at great options for essential oils to kill bed bugs.

Can your air conditioner help to slow down a bed bug infestation?

Increased bed bug activity occurs when the conditions are hot and humid. This usually occurs in the mid-months of June and July. To slow down bed bugs, you can use your air conditioner to change these conditions inside your house. You could turn your air conditioner up to hot, which distresses bed bugs and affects their feeding and breeding pattern. Turning it down to prolonged cold temperatures also makes them less inactive, and they adopt hibernation-like behavior. So, yes. You can use your air conditioner to slow down bed bugs.

Final Thoughts

Your air conditioner could be the reason the infestation starts and worsens, or it could slow down. Air conditioners, especially air ducts, have been known to be conduits for bed bugs to travel from one room or apartment to the other. Setting your air conditioner to extremely high or low temperatures could slow them down. However, as a bed bug extermination option, it is not as effective as the other options. You must detect an infestation in your air conditioner early and take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.


Can bed bugs live in the air conditioner?

Yes. The A/C provides dark and humid conditions for bed bug infestation. It also offers excellent hiding spots.

Can bed bugs travel through air ducts?

Yes. In search of a human host or to escape fumigation, bed bugs will use air vents to travel from one apartment to another.

Can your air conditioner kill bed bugs?

No. Achieving extremely high or low temperatures for prolonged periods with your air conditioner is impractical. Bed bug eggs will survive.