Bed bugs are back with a bad attitude

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Bed bugs and broomsticks.  The scourge of the parasitic bed bug is upon us again – a 300% increase over the last ten years.

Bed bugs were on the decline over the first half of the 20th century following the development of new insecticides, but 2011 alone has seen a 28 per cent increase in the reported incidence of bed bug infestations.

It seems the bloodsucking parasites have developed resistance to modern insecticides and international travel has spread them around the world.  Previously, poor hygiene was a major factor but now chic hotels and clean homes are fertile breeding (and feeding) grounds for the blood-feeding monsters.

Detecting an infestation:

Look carefully for tiny blood spots on bed sheets – bed bug excretion pools may be visible on bedsheets.  Groups of bed bugs produce chemical odours – can you smell a musty-sweet corianderish fragrance ?  If yes, it’s probably bed bugs.  Most people don’t realise bed bugs can grow to nearly half-an-inch and are visible to the naked eye.  Check the bed seams, under the mattress and the bed frame.

BED BUG BITES:

Human skin bed bug bite marks are ordinarily seen in lines of two or three since the bug bites several times in succession while feasting on a human blood meal.  When hungry, the bug comes out of hiding to feed, injects saliva into the skin which contains blood-thinners making feeding much more efficient.  Victims don’t even feel the bite as the bug’s saliva contains anaesthetic – at least not until the next day when an itch may need a scratch.  Bites may even become infected especially when victims are allergic to the bed bug bite.  Over-the-counter hydrocortisone helps with itching but doctor’s prescription creams are stronger and more effective.  Anti-histamine tablets may be necessary but antibiotics may even be required for certain infections.

HOW TO FIGHT BACK:

Act quickly – the longer you leave a bed-bug infestation, the worse it gets and the more difficult becomes the task of getting rid of the infestation.  Bed bugs breed and spread rapidly and are able to go a year without feeding.

So, get started killing them now.  Heat treatment above 45C is effective, however they are found in areas that are not easy to heat treat and it is often difficult to get the temperature high enough.