Bed Bugs – The facts
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are small, 2-5mm long, with a flat reddish-brown body that can slip into paper-thin cracks. They have well developed mouth parts which they swing out from their bodies before feeding on blood.
How quickly do bed bugs multiply?
A female bed bug gives birth to between three to 10 eggs per day. The eggs hatch in 10 days and if the nymphs find themselves near a blood source, they can reach maturity in just five weeks.
Where do bed bugs live?
Bed bugs thrive in the bedroom but can be found anywhere people come to rest. They create generations between sheets, in mattress seams and in bedstead crevices. They prefer not to travel far for their blood meals, so they are also likely to be found close to a host.
Although bed bugs prefer to feed during the night when humans are asleep, they are also opportunistic and will feed on hosts while awake .Therefore bed bug infestations are often found in hotels, hospitals, aeroplanes, trains and buses.
Bed bugs are very hardy. They are able to survive 18 months without food and travel vast distances in luggage and on modes of transportation until they reach a meal.
What are the signs of bed bug infestation?
- Severely itchy bites, in small groups of three or four.
- Blood spots on bedclothes. Bed bugs feed on blood for a full 15 minutes, if they are accidentally squashed, they leave a stain.
- Black spots on sheets from their excrement.
- A nasty musty odour is detectable when the infestation is particularly serious.
- Moulted skins. As they grow towards maturity, the nymphs shed their skins.
- Bed bug eggs. An expert eye will detect egg clusters in crevices and cracks.
Does a bed bug infestation need controlling?
Bed bugs bite and are therefore unwelcome guests in a home. However, bed bugs can also destroy a commercial enterprise’s reputation.
- Bed bug bites are nasty. They itch for several days and in some cases cause an allergic reaction. The bites appear in clusters all over the body.
- The bites cause sleeplessness and anxiety in their hosts.
- If the bites are constantly scratched, then there will be risk of infection.
- A bad attack of biting can cause anaemia and iron deficiency.
- Bed bugs can cause the downfall of commercial premises, such as hotels and ruin the reputation of hospitals. There have been numerous cases of people suing proprietors after an attack.
- Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of and there is no single effective method. An integrated approach to the problem is needed as well as careful monitoring of effectiveness over time.