Bed bugs are making a strong come back in the UK and further afield having been nearly completely driven from our shores30-40 years ago. Now, with the advent of cheap international travel and the relative lack of knowledge about them, bed bugs are finding their way back into our living space.
Bed bugs can grow to about 5mm in length, about the same size of an apple pip, and are reddish brown in colour. They are round in shape and really flat, but after having a blood feed the swell up like a balloon.
The young stages of this pest can easily be seen by eye and look like miniature versions of the adult insect.
Luckily these pests cannot fly, hop or jump — although the can walk at about 2cm a second (that’s 72m an hour!)
They like to hide in cracks and crevices near to where they will be feeding next, and so they will commonly be found in headboards, mattresses and in bed side tables. But they can also be found in other areas where people sit for long periods of time. As a result they are commonly found in hotels and homes, although they have even been discovered on trains and buses.
In normal room temperatures the bugs tend to feed every 2 — 3 days. This generally takes about 8 minutes and the bug will only feed once unless it is disturbed mid meal. Adult females will then lay eggs after feeding and can lay up to 300 in her life time, in batches of about 10-15. The eggs are about 1 mm long and a pearly white colour, and these can often be found near where the adults and young stages hide during the day.
Unfortunately bed bugs have a great ability to resist being starved. Adults can wait for about a year between feeds if they need to, so going away on holiday, or leaving a room vacant for a few weeks is not an effective way to kill them…. It will just make them hungrier the next time you use that area!
Luckily, bed bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases, however as the bites are extremely itchy, there is a risk of secondary infection in the wounds. Some people may take up to 2 days to respond to a bed bug bite and therefore it is not always easy to determine where you were when you were bitten. It is also not possible to tell exactly what has bitten you from looking at the bite, as there can be many other reasons for bites or bite type reactions… it is therefore essential that other signs of the pest in the room are found to confirm the presence of bed bugs or any other pest.
The tale tell signs of an infestation, other than nasty, itchy bites and seeing the insects, are the eggs and dark brown spots found near cracks. This is bed bug droppings, and after each feed an individual will make a few of these en route from where it fed to where it will hide for the next two days.
Bed bugs can easily walk between rooms, or hitch a lift on cleaning equipment and trolleys; but their main way of spreading is on people’s luggage and in the movement of goods.
For more information, visit www.rentokil.com