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Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that are up to 7mm in length and most commonly feed on the blood of humans and household pets. They are nocturnal and tend to hide in safe locations (for a few days at a time) before emerging during the night to feed on their hosts.

Bed bugs are capable of transmitting diseases and parasites to their hosts but this is believed to be particularly unlikely in most cases. Any infection that does come from bed bug bites is likely to be a secondary infection as result of scratching the itchy bites. Aside from this risk the main cause of concern is the physical irritation caused by the bites and psychological harm (and lack of sleep) that can often result.

Proliferation of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are increasingly common in the U.K; this is thought be down to the higher levels of foreign travel and to some extent the increasing use of central heating systems in our homes.

Although bed bugs are highly resistant to low temperatures they do require a temperature of at least 10-13 degrees Celsius in order for their eggs to hatch. The development of the resultant nymphs (into adults) is in part dependent upon the prevailing temperatures as well as the available blood supply.

Although bed bugs will feed every few days if they can; they are capable of going without blood for up to a year and can consume up to 7 times their own body weight in a single feeding.

Spotting Bed Bugs

Often bed bugs infestations will result in small blood and faeces spots being left on bedding sheets although these are not always visible to the naked eye without the use of bloodspot detection equipment.

Large infestations can produce a distinctive and fairly noticeable smell; this smell comes from the bed bugs faeces, discarded skin and sweat glands. The smell usually carries with it varying descriptions from person to person but the words sweet, musky or mouldy tend to resonate with most people. By the time this occurs however the infestation should be apparent upon a casual visual inspection of the bedding fabrics and furnishings.

Bed Bug Bites

The classic and probably best known indication of a bed bug problem is of course however the 'bed bug bite'. The initial bite will probably not be felt by the host as the bugs excrete a tiny amount of anaesthetic that numbs the skin during feeding. The well known irritation and redness that usually results can take days to appear and is often attributed to other causes.

Bed bug bites tend to occur close to one another; often (but not always) in straight lines or grouped patterns. The bites will be red and swollen; with a darker red area at the centre and invariably some level of accompanying itchiness. Bites tend to occur on the areas of the body that are the most exposed and easiest for the bed bugs to access.

It is important that the cause of any bites on the human body (or on a pet) are properly identified; to ensure that any potential health problems are correctly addressed. It is equally important that the correct type of pest control treatment is used to counter any pest infestation that might exist. Misdiagnosis could result in the wrong type/method of treatment being applied; resulting in control failure and further distress to residents of the building.

Treating Bed Bugs

As in many pest control scenarios dealing with issues of denial can be a problem. Pest infestations are often associated with hygiene and people can be reluctant to admit that there may be an issue. Bed bugs however can appear in otherwise very clean environments; due to their tendency to be unknowingly carried about in clothing and luggage.

It is important to quickly remove bed bugs from your property as soon possible as they can accumulate fairly rapidly. The females can produce over 100 eggs in just a few weeks and the resultant nymphs can develop into adults in 3-4 weeks if the conditions are favourable; although this process usually takes a few months or more.

The tendency of bed bugs to hide in cracks and crevices can make them difficult to eradicate as standard insecticide sprays may not penetrate into these voids effectively.

If insecticide sprays are to be used then they should be applied using a U.L.V (ultra low volume) applicator. This equipment (not to be confused with foggers or bug bombs) creates selectively sized very small droplets of insecticide solution that penetrate into voids and coat the bed bugs skin far more effectively than fogs or larger sized droplets. This has the added benefit of minimising the amount of insecticide used; which in turn minimises any risk to human health.

Treating Bed Bugs With Heat

The use of various types of heat treatment are amongst the best ways of getting rid of bed bugs and this is the approach that we usually use. The heat treatment methods involve killing the bugs (and the eggs) by either:

  • Using a commercial super heated "dry type" steamer to the infested areas (mattresses, fabrics and furnishings) or
  • Using special heaters to raise the temperature of the whole room/house to around 60 degrees Celsius and maintaining that temperature for around 2 hours.

These methods require careful application and monitoring but are both very effective at treating bed bugs and also have the added advantage of being free of chemicals. Heat treatments are usually carried out on the same day so inconvenience to the building residents is minimised.

To get more information and remove bed bugs from your property contact us using the information below:

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Image of bed bug feeding
Image of bed bug monitor trap