Bed bugs are making a comeback worldwide and the accommodation industry is being warned there is no escape. In fact they are more of a problem now than ever before. It’s not just the accommodation industry that is at risk of infestation of bed bugs, but residential homes can face problems from the Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug. The name “bed bug” is derived from the insect’s preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale while we are sleeping, thus sending out an invitation to the bed bug to come and feed on our blood.
A survey of professional Australian pest managers a few years ago revealed that bed bug numbers rose by an unprecedented 4500% since the start of the new millennium.
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, friends that have come in contact with bed bugs, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. The bed bug flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups to bread, lay eggs, sleep and feed. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, bed bases, bed frames, headboards bedside draws, where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
Usually they feed while you are sleeping as they are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale while we are asleep. Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness, you could find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones. Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts the bites do not have a red spot in the centre like flea bites do. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away back to their hiding place. People who don’t realise they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To make sure you have bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Some telltale signs of bed bugs
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep
- An offensive, musty odour from the bugs’ scent glands
- Small drops of blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Egg shells, or shed skins
- Bed bug fecal spots