All you ever wanted to know about bed bugs but were afraid to ask
What are Bed Bugs?
Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 5mm to 7mm long and are clearly visible to the naked eye. Their flat shape however enables them to easily hide in cracks and crevices.
Bedbugs are most frequently found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover, such as hotels, hostels, dormitories, apartment complexes and prisons.
Such infestations are not usually a reflection of poor hygiene or bad housekeeping but that a previous occupant had come into contact with them at some stage.
What do they do?
Bed bugs feed on blood and are one of the few parasites designed to feed from a human host in preference. A bed bug bite is often painless at the time but will later generally cause the skin to become irritated and inflamed.
Reaction among individuals to bites however varies greatly. It is thought that around 10% of people exhibit no reaction from bites although most will find large red bites on the torso. Cases of extreme reaction do seem to be on the rise however and may well affect as many as 20% of people.
Bedbugs are not currently thought to transmit diseases to humans although they are capable of carrying infectious material and of course their presence can be quite upsetting.
Where are they found?
Bedbugs only spend a limited time on the host and often hide during the day in dark protected sites, preferring fabric, wood, and paper surfaces which are fairly close to the host. For this reason a person exhibiting signs of bed bug bites will be unlikely to have the insects on them during the day. Bedbugs most commonly transport themselves to new locations within luggage.
During the day they can most often be found in seams, folds of mattresses and around the headboard. In heavier infestations they can also be found further from the bed.
Female bedbugs lay from one to twelve eggs per day, and the eggs are deposited on rough surfaces or in crack and crevices. The eggs are coated with a sticky substance so they adhere to the surface. Eggs hatch in around 10 days, and nymphs can immediately begin to feed. They require a blood meal in order to moult and develop into the next stage. Bedbugs reach maturity after five moults. The adult’s life span may encompass 12-18 months and they are known to be able to survive for 12 months between feeds.
Some of the signs to look for
Live bedbugs and discarded skin moults may be found in areas such as under bed frames and in hems of curtains
Blood smears on sheets and bed frames shows there is an active feeding population.
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