Coping with bed bugs

Due to an increase in global travel bed bugs are on the rise. Hot weather in crowded cities also plays a significant role in bed bug spread and shortens their reproductive cycle. If you are a frequent traveller or have had guests staying in your home, you may experience allergies, insomnia, and itching. If you are the owner of a hotel, there may be a rise in complaints and there is the likelihood of having to replace carpets and furnishings that have been ruined by bed bugs.

Educating yourself about bed bugs will help you to avoid bringing them into your home or business. We’ll also explain how to recognise an infestation, how to control bed bugs and what to do when you have been bitten.

Signs of bed bugs

The very first signs of a bed bug infestation are being bitten at night, itchy welts on your body, spots of blood on your bed sheets and faecal pellets near your bed. Shed bed bug skins and egg shells around the edges of your bedroom carpet. Unexplained, sticky white granules in crevices of the bed frame, mattress seams and bedside furniture red or black stains on your bed sheets.

Finding live specimens is one of the singes there may be a bed bug problem about. You may first notice them on your bed linen and pillows. You can also find them in mattress seams, bed frames and other bedroom furniture. Check along carpet edges, curtains folds, picture frames, and around power points. Evidence eggs and skin casings will confirm your findings. An absence of live bugs doesn’t mean you are free of these pests. Their small size and secretive nature just make them harder to detect.

If you are a hotel manager, your housekeeping staff are an asset. Train them to identify bed bugs. Never try to treat an infestation yourself. Poor management can spread bugs further throughout the building.

Some people describe the smell of bed bugs as musty or sickly sweet. The unpleasant odour is caused by bed bug pheromones. Strong odours may indicate a large infestation.

Check for dark reddish-brown spots around mattresses, headboards and other furnishings. These are from bed bugs excreting digested blood after feeding. Black bed bug droppings are also signs of an infestation.

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Where do bed bugs come from?

Most people get bed bugs when travelling. Someone that has bed bugs stays at a hotel and then a new traveller stays at the same hotel. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on your clothes or in your suitcase. Once they get to your home they will start to breed and spread quickly. Contrary to popular belief, cleanliness has little to do with the spread of bed bugs. You are just as likely to get them in a five star hotel as you are in cheapest motels.

Bed bug infestations can also occur in the cleanest of homes and businesses

 Travel is also not the only way to get bed bugs, you can also get them from:

Public Transport – If someone with bed bugs gets on public transport, you can pick them up of the seat or from the passenger directly.

Work or Recreation – Bed bugs do not need beds to survive. It is possible for bed bugs to live and grow at work, in movie theatres, at schools, and more.

Other People Homes –  If you visit other people’s home that has bed bugs, you may take one or two with you.

Second-Hand  Furniture – There is a reason why you shouldn’t buy pre-owned  mattresses and bedroom furniture. Bed bugs may still be hiding inside them.

Home Visitors – You can get bed bugs without leaving your house at all. If someone with bed bugs comes to visit, they may have brought one with them.

An adult bed bug measures around 5-9 mm in length. If bed bugs have recently had a blood meal, their body doubles in size. Normally it is flat and oval shaped. Nymphs (baby bed bugs), resemble adults but are smaller. They are roughly the size of a grain of rice. This makes them impossible to see, unless they have recently fed.

Bed bugs resemble an apple seed in shape colour and size. Thy are wingless and can not fly or jump. Their flat body allows them to hide in tiny crevices, and to move quickly over surfaces.

Adult bed bugs are a rusty brown colour. This changes to rusty red when their body enlarges after a blood meal. Nymphs are pale and colourless when first hatched, th ey turn the normal rusty brown colour as they mature. After a blood meal, nymphs can appear bright red.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs bites look like welts similar to mosquito bites

Bed bugs are a wide spread and are a common problem. They can be found in households and throughout the hotel industry, including backpackers and travellers who share rooms as well as aged care residences. Although they are prevalent in budget accommodation, upmarket hotels are not immune either. The sharp increase in tourism and a ban of harsh chemicals used for bedbug control, has strongly contributed to their resurgence. Bed bugs may be introduced to your home whilst staying overnight in already infested premises. They can be brought in with second hand furniture. They can also travel in people’s luggage, on their clothing and can easily be picked up on public transport.

 It is not easy to detect bed bugs, especially when you are unaware of their presence. Although bed bugs are nocturnal, they are opportunistic feeders. They will happily take a blood meal at any time. Bed bugs inject anaesthetic into the skin, so they can feed in peace while you sleep. Their bites resemble welts, and that’s why bed bugs are often mistaken for mosquito bites. If you wake up with bite marks, you should suspect bed bugs. Some people will have no reaction at all to a bite. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease, their bites are painless, however some people may develop an allergic reaction, this can present as reddish, swollen hives and itchiness.

Bed bugs are more of an annoyance than a health hazard, however avoid scratching bites if possible. Apply anti itch cream and use antihistamine in order to reduce the burning sensation. Use antiseptic to reduce chances of an infection. Most bed bug bites heal quickly, but if symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.

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