The Common bed bug is a pest that can cause a lot of distress, especially for children. They are typically found in homes near beds. They are oval shaped, wingless insects usually around 5mm (¼") in length. They are coloured a lightish red-brown turning to a darker red/purple after feeding.
Bedbugs are haemovores, they eat blood. And humans are their preferred prey.
Bed bugs are aptly named, they find somewhere secluded near a bed and hide themselves away. Either inside the mattress, headboard or bed frame, or under bed bases, or anywhere else cosy and close to their food. Bedbugs tend to stay together in groups and tend to stick to one target for their lifetime, which in ideal circumstances can be as much as 18 months.
Although they are small, they can be easily spotted with the naked eye. They are slow and require their prey to be asleep in order to feed. Because of this, they are nocturnal and rarely seen during daylight.
Spotting an infestation
A bedbug infestation can usually be detected by the itching of their bites, but there are other signs which can indicate the infestation.
- spots of blood on bedding
- small brown marks on bedding and surrounding area
- pale opaque eggs, either un-hatched or hatched
- if an infestation is especially heavy a sweet almond-like smell can be detected
Bed bugs will not travel too far from their host, but can move into adjacent rooms via interconnecting ducting/spaces. They are most likely to be transferred from place to place via infested linen, clothing, furniture and other articles. In hotels and hostels, housekeeping staff can unknowingly transfer bed bugs around the premises on all of the items mentioned above and guests can take bed bugs with them from hotel to hotel and eventually to their own home.
It has never been shown that bed bugs carry any diseases, however the bites can be become infected if they are scratched. Some people are more sensitive to bites and can even develop an allergic reaction, in severe cases this will require medical attention.