There are two main types of bed bug. The most prevelant is the Common bed bug, found in homes, hotels, offices and so forth. Common bed bugs are oval wingless insects, approximately 5mm long, with six legs and two antennae. They are red-brown in colour and flat in shape. Their colour turns to red/purple after a blood meal and they become more rounded in shape.
Where do they live?
Bed bugs hide themselves in mattresses, within bed frames, under bed bases, within bed headboards, behind loose wallpaper, within paintings, wall sockets, and telephones. Also behind wall partitioning, suspended ceilings, skirting boards, on clothing or furnishings, and anywhere with a dark crack/crevice/seam providing harbourage.
With frequent feeding, adults can live for up to 18 months. They breed by laying eggs that usually hatch after about 10 to 20 days. A female can lay between 150 and 345 eggs in her life.
The presence of bedbugs in a room can be detected by the following:
- blood spotting on bedding
- brown excrement spots close to where they live and on bedding
- whitish/opaque un-hatched and hatched eggs
- in heavy infestations, a sweet almond smell is common
However, it should be noted that bed bugs are not normally seen during the day.
Bed bugs will not travel too far from their host, but can move into adjacent rooms via interconnecting ducting. They are most likely to be transferred from place to place via infested linen, clothing or furniture. In hotels and hostels, housekeeping staff can unknowingly transfer bed bugs, and guests can take bed bugs with them from hotels to homes.
What problems can they cause?
Bed bugs are not known to carry disease. They feed on human blood, usually at night whilst people are sleeping in their beds. The bites cause irritation and itching and some people are particularly sensitive, which can cause an allergy and inflammation, especially to the arms and shoulders. This can be quite severe and require medical attention.
How can you control them?
Foremostly, by keeping your house clean and hygenic. Bed bugs can thrive where hygiene standards are poor.
In hotels and hostels house-keeping staff should be trained to identify the signs of bed bug infestation.
Infested bedding and furnishings should be laundered in a hot wash, and care should be taken not to transfer the infestation via laundry baskets. In severe cases, items of furniture will require removal and burning.
It is difficult to treat bed bugs and therefore the easiest, and most efficient way to do this is to seek professional help.