Australia is currently facing a problem. Across the country, people are reporting sleepless nights and itchy, red spots on their bodies. The culprits are bed bugs. How to recognize and get rid of an infestation in your home.
When you think of a souvenir from your vacation, you primarily imagine postcards or magnets for the refrigerator. However, there are also unwanted souvenirs, such as bed bugs (Cimex lectularius). The insects usually travel comfortably across national borders in a suitcase without being noticed. But you can also bring the animals home with you if you find them at the flea market.
In Which Households Do Bed Bugs Occur?
If you think bed bugs prefer things dirty, you’re wrong. Bed bugs can be found even in the cleanest homes. However, the parasites find shelter more quickly if it is untidy.
Otherwise, bed bugs appear everywhere where a lot of people go: hotels, hostels, dormitories, Airbnb accommodations – and hiking huts. From there it’s not far to your own household. Bed bugs often try nesting in hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare facilities. And don’t forget: means of transport such as buses, trains or planes.
How Big Do Bed Bugs Get?
The male bug can reach 6.5 millimeters, while a well-fed female can even grow to 8.5 millimeters. This lays up to 150 milky-white and slightly curved eggs, which it sticks to a surface in a hiding place. After a while, the bedbug larvae hatch from this and have to shed their skin five times before they are fully grown.
What Do Bed Bugs Feed On?
Before each molt, the growing bugs fortify themselves extensively – preferably with human blood. If this is not available, the bloodsuckers also attack bats, birds and pets. The vermin only crawl out of its hiding place after sunset to begin its blood feast. On the other hand, bed bugs can also remain abstinent for months.
What Does A Bedbug Bite Look Like?
Many people don’t even realize they’ve been bitten by a bed bug at first. The skin often takes a long time to react – it can take up to a week to see anything! Then itchy pustules and wheals appear, usually in groups or, strangely, neatly arranged in a row. Sometimes only one stitch is visible. Since the bites can also come from other insects, it is impossible even for dermatologists to diagnose bed bugs based on the bites alone.
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous To People?
Theoretically, the blood-sucking parasites can also transmit pathogens. However, this has not yet been proven. The experts from the Federal Environment Agency estimate the risk of becoming ill from a bedbug bite to be very low.
However, the bites are very itchy. Attention: Even if the itching is tormenting – don’t scratch! Scratching the bedbug bites can lead to a bacterial infection. The psychological stress that bed bugs cause in people is also nasty. Anyone who has ever had to share the night with them will not forget them so quickly. Those affected report sleep disorders, nightmares, anxiety and hypervigilance.
As a rule, bed bugs fall off people after they have fed on their blood. The parasites can only remain on the human body if an apartment is very heavily infested. They then move back and forth on it, which makes transmission to other people possible.
How Do I Recognize A Bed Bug Infestation?
It’s not that easy, because bedbug bites can hardly be distinguished from mosquito bites. It is a case of a bedbug if the bites occur outside of mosquito season. The parasites are easier to recognize when hunger calls. In search of food, bed bugs then crawl out of their hiding place, make themselves comfortable on the bed or crawl along the wall. Another indication of a bed bug infestation: the special smell. An unpleasant, sweet bitter almond smell escapes from the bugs’ stink glands, which then hangs in the infested apartment. In some cases, there is also a need for deterrent for possums.
Traces of feces in the form of small, black balls and transparent molt covers also indicate an infestation. Both can be found where bed bugs like to hide: in the light switch, in the socket, behind the picture frame, the baseboards, in a niche. And of course in bed and on the slatted frame. If there are small blood stains on the sheet or duvet, the case is clear. Then only the exterminator can help – fighting it yourself, however, doesn’t do much good.
Bug Check In The Hotel Room
“You shouldn’t be blinded by the look of the hotel room. Bed bugs can occur anywhere. Even in the most expensive and best hotels in the world there are occasional bed bugs. Unfortunately, I had that experience. The first thing I do when I enter a hotel room is to do a bedbug check so I feel a little safer. The first thing you should look at is the mattress, the slatted frame and the bed frame. If there are traces of bedbug droppings in the corners of the frame, the slatted frame or on the corners and edges of the mattress, this is not necessarily a bad sign, but you should be vigilant. There is a possibility that this bed was once infested with bed bugs and just wasn’t replaced. It is much worse if you find bedbugs or even their eggs. Traces of blood and feces on the bed linen are also not a good sign; they indicate that they are up to date. If you have found fresh traces, it is advisable to change hotels. Just changing rooms can, but doesn’t necessarily have to be, helpful. Bed bugs spread quickly and the likelihood that another room will also be infested is very high.”
– EnviroBug Team
How Can You Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?
Even if you cannot get rid of bed bugs on your own, it is possible to get support from the pest control professional: either wash the infected laundry at 60 degrees or freeze it for at least three days. Then the bed bugs die. Infected items that are no longer needed should be disposed of in a sealable plastic bag or plastic bag. Caution: Bed bugs cannot fly, but they can crawl quickly. So don’t let it escape from the bag – otherwise all your efforts will be in vain.
You can also vacuum away the insects along with their excrement and eggs with a vacuum cleaner. Important: Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag afterwards and seal it with adhesive tape. For devices without a bag, place the collecting container in a plastic bag, seal and freeze for three days.
You should also freeze items that you cannot part with. Minus 18 degrees should be enough to kill the pest insects. Or you can try heat. Heat-resistant items can be treated at least 55 degrees.