What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on the blood of their host. Although they are small, they are visible to the human eye and are typically around 5mm long fully grown. They are flat and an oval shape and are a dark red/brown colour. Female insects lay an average of 5 eggs a day so a few bed bugs quickly turn into a lot of bed bugs. Although they need to feed to survive, simply not sleeping in your bed for a week or so won’t get rid of them. They can survive up to a year without feeding on a host and still continue to reproduce. Although bed bugs aren’t harmful, they still cause some people to have allergic reactions and make them feel very uncomfortable. Regardless of their name, bed bugs aren’t only found in beds but also in places like sofas and any other fabricated area that you may sit/lay.
How can I spot bed bugs?
There are a number of things that may cause you to suspect a bed bug infestation but make sure you especially keep an eye out for the following:
• Brown shell remains. As bed bugs grow into adults, they shed their skin and leave brown shells behind. The more of these, the more bed bugs you have.
• Black spots on mattress. This will be their faeces just so you know what you’re sleeping in.
• Spots of blood. If you accidently sit on one, they get crushed and leave little spots of blood on your bed that looks the same as when you kill a mite.
• Skin rash. When you’re bitten, sometimes you get an allergic reaction and they look like little mosquito bites in a line. Not everyone gets a reaction from the bites though so don’t just rely on this to suspect an infestation.
• Actually seeing them. If you check all the cracks and gaps in your bed, you can shine a light over them and sometimes actually see the bed bugs they hide very well though so make sure you give it a thorough search.
You should check these signs very regularly so you can catch an infestation early on and only have to deal with a few instead of a few hundred.
How do I get rid of them and prevent them from coming back?
Once you have confirmed that you have bed bugs, you have a number of ways to get rid of them. Firstly, you can buy a special spray designed to get rid of bed bugs. If you use this, follow the instructions on the bottle. You can also move your mattress and get a light to see any bugs and hoover them up although this method isn’t very efficient as you might not be able to see all of them. You should also wash your bedding on a high temperature to ensure they don’t survive the heat, typically 60° and then dry it on a high heat afterwards too just to make sure. If worse comes to worse and there are just too many of them, just throw away your mattress.
There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent bed bugs as they aren’t attracted to dirt so cleaning more often really won’t make a difference (that isn’t an excuse not to clean). The best thing you can do is to just regularly inspect your mattress for bed bugs so you can get rid of them as soon as possible. You should also be careful about buying second hand furniture as they can be brought in through that.