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Planning Retirement Online

Bed Bugs


October 2012

Bed Bugs

Bed bug: cimex lectulariusHorrible isn’t it? To go to bed at night and realise you are being bitten. Bed bugs have been with us for thousands of years. In the 1940s strong action was taken to eradicate them, but recently bed bugs and related conditions seem to be on the increase.

The term bed bugs is of course a generalisation but normally it relates to any species of cimex. The usual bugs found by humans are common cimex lectularius. This little insect feeds on human blood.

The bugs are a bit a like a lentil, a light to reddish brown and in a flattened overall shape. They have front wings and tiny hairs and can grow up to 4 to 5 mm long. These little insects can live in a huge range of temperatures and conditions and once introduced into a home, can quickly spread from room to room. They do not fly or jump but crawl speedily over a range of areas.

They are attracted by human heat as well as carbon dioxide, and because they eat our blood, it doesn’t take them long to find that bedding offers the perfect location, warm and with a good uncomplaining supply of food from us when we go to bed at night - people are usually unaware they are being bitten.

Their flat shape also means they can hide in the smallest gaps such as in a mattress seam or in the joints of a bed frame which means they are very difficult to find.

Even worse, females can lay hundreds of eggs in just a month or two. Their eggs are tiny white specks that stick to surfaces and can be almost impossible to spot. It takes them six to eight weeks to grow into an adult.

Awaking in the morning finding you have been bitten is not a pleasant experience. The bites can cause minor irritations, or cause skin reactions that can develop into nasty rashes that can last a week or more. An interesting way to identify a bed bug bite is to look at the bites; most insects bite in a random fashion; bed bugs bite in a straight line down the skin.

Getting rid of bed bugs can be very difficult indeed. You only need to miss one or two and the cycle will start all over again.

If you think you have bed bugs, initially of course it is important to inspect the area carefully. Washing all the bedding at temperatures of higher than 60 degrees can work. Dismantling the bed and furniture and inspecting the whole area is necessary as well, looking into every crevice with a bright torch and using a vacuum cleaner to check any areas where you think bed bugs could be hiding.

You can buy insecticide sprays specifically to use for bed bugs, but these vary and you need to check whether they are for use on bedding or hard surfaces. Normal insect repellent doesn’t usually work for bed bugs.

If you still have concerns, then contact a pest control company. Don’t be embarrassed, bed bugs are not a result of poor hygiene and pest control companies are used to treating the problem. Rentokil for instance offer a specific 'chemical free' heat treatment for bedbugs called Entotherm.
There is lots of help at hand, but it is important to tackle the problem quickly before these little pests spread even further.



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