Bed Bugs, one of mankind’s oldest adversaries.
Evidence of bed bugs have been found in caves all over the world, even before mankind could utter their first words, these insects were feeding from our ancestors’ flesh.
Fast forward a few million years, Bed bugs (cimex lectularius) are still mankind’s biggest pest, as the world’s population grows, and the earth grows warmer, there has never been a better time to be a bed bug!
To look at an adult bed bug, you might think that they resemble a walking apple pip. They range from a light golden colour to a dark brown , almost black in colour. The darker their body, the more recent they will have fed, and yes that’s your blood inside that tiny body!
IF YOU THINK PICKING UP GIRLS WAS EASY
The rapid spread of bed bugs can be attributed to a few factors:
Ease of worldwide travel
Literally jump on a plane and in a few hours you could be anywhere in the world. Staying in that nice hotel, which may hide a dark secret. It only takes one egg laying female to fall into your suitcase that you stored away.
Staying in already infested premises
It’s not just hotels that might be hiding a dark secret. With the onset of school holidays, sleepovers at friends’ houses are very common, children are especially susceptible at bringing some uninvited guests home.
Buying infested second-hand furniture
Selling goods on social media is very easy these days. Buyer beware, always check any furniture when buying, especially bedroom furniture, even sofas and chairs aren’t immune to hiding a hungry bed bug.
Immunity to modern insecticides
As humans evolve, so do insects. Most insects, including bed bugs, are becoming increasingly immune to the insecticides we use today. Fortunately we research and develop ever more effective chemicals to fight the mini beasts. To battle bed bugs, you may need the help of a professional pest control manager who has the technical know-how and tools that can win the battle.
We’ve won a few battles, but the war isn’t over!
By their very nature, bed bugs are one of nature’s finest fighters. To win the war, we need an
in-depth knowledge of two things, biology and behaviour.
Bed bugs, like all insects, go through certain life stages from egg to adult. Bed bugs start off as a pin head-sized egg. Given ideal conditions (temperature, humidity) this will hatch into a perfectly formed tiny bed bug, looking just like mum and dad! This process is known as ‘incomplete metamorphosis’. The insect will then go through six stages before reaching maturity. Before reaching each stage, it will need to have a blood feed. When the time is right, it will shed its outer skin before reaching the next stage, these stages are known as ‘instars’. Cast body shells are a good sign to look for when carrying out a survey. One female is capable of laying up to five eggs a day and up to five hundred eggs in her lifetime. Bed bugs can live for more than a year given the right conditions. Once maturity has been reached, bed bugs can hide away for months at a time before a further blood meal is needed.
FOR ADULTS ONLY!
Bed bugs mating isn’t for the faint hearted, indeed female bed bugs aren’t even interested in mating and actively avoid males. The male bed bugs are clever chaps, they will hide away and wait for a female to pass by and pounce when ready! They will then inject their genitalia into the female’s abdominal wall, a process known as ‘traumatic insemination’. To reach each stage of their lives, the bed bug needs to have a blood feed before each stage. Indeed, an adult bed bug would probably feed from you at least six times!
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
Bed bugs are nocturnal by nature, hunting for a blood meal by twilight. What brings them out of their safe havens? YOU DO!
As we breathe, we exhale carbon dioxide which excites bed bugs into action, letting them know that there is a blood meal available to them. Bed bugs tend to bite exposed parts of the body, so if you hunker down tightly under your duvet, you may get bites over your shoulder and neck area; even your face and ears aren’t safe. The even worse news is, once a treatment is carried out, it’s essential that the room is used each night. If no one sleeps in the room, there will be no carbon dioxide to draw them out, and they will retract even further into the fabric of the building, then just when you think they are all dead and you use the room again, you will be attacked by voracious bed bugs!
As the bed bug pierces your skin with its tube-like proboscis (a straw-like appendage at the front of its head) it will inject an anticoagulant fluid. Not only does this thin your blood making its easier for the insect to digest, but it also cleans the proboscis from dried blood from previous feeds.
As the insect gorges on you, its body will swell – filling itself with fresh blood. As it withdraws, it will literally leak a small amount of blood – leaving small blood spots on your nice clean pillows and sheets, and another very important sign to look for when checking for bed bug activity. After feeding, it will retire to the nearest safe harbourage and rest.
Many people confuse bed bug bites with flea bites. It is important to remember that flea bites usually occur around the ankle and lower leg area, as fleas are predominantly resident at floor level. However, some fleas can make it to the sofa, whereby you can get bitten around the midriff area. It is always advisable to have a professional survey carried out – it can save time, and lots of money.
Bed bugs do not nest in a colony like wasps or ants, however they will form small clusters. They are easily spotted – you may see adults and nymphs, shed skin castes, and lots of brown spotting, that will be their faeces!
WEAPONS OF CHOICE
Professional pest managers and surveyors have a wealth of knowledge and armoury to rely on, including professional grade insecticides, trapping and monitoring systems, heat machines, but most of all training and experience. We also have the very latest, up to date monitoring techniques which makes use of lateral flow tests!
It can be a very upsetting time for all the family should you manage to bring home some hitchhiking insects, however help isn’t very far away.
HAVE A NICE HOLIDAY
If you intend travelling in the near future, try and remember the following points:
- Check all beds and headboards, wherever you might be staying.
- Place empty suitcases away from beds, preferably in sealed bags.
- Check all bedroom furniture, even under chairs.
- Ask your host if there has been any history of bed bugs.
- Check all suitcases/luggage/clothes before your return, even giving said items a quick blast with a can of insecticide can help. FOLLOW ALL LABEL INSTRUCTIONS.
- And lastly…Don’t have nightmares!