Bedbugs seem to hit the headlines every few months or so when a sudden rush of infestations is discovered in a particular area. These parasites are experts at spreading and multiplying and are often carried from place to place inside old furniture or suitcases, so it’s unsurprising that they seem to show up in several places at once.
With the festive season in full swing and huge numbers of people travelling to see loved ones, many of us will be exposed to bedbugs and could unwittingly take some of these creepy-crawlies home with us.
It’s essential that a bedbug infestation is caught as early as possible because they breed extraordinarily fast and you could soon have an unpleasant and costly situation to deal with. In fact, a single female will lay 2-3 eggs every day and will live for up to a year. You don’t need to be an expert in maths to appreciate how quickly you could have an infestation on your hands.
When Bedbugs Attack
The most commonly known sign of a bedbug infestation is itchy red welts on your body. This is caused by the bedbugs feeding on your blood at night. Whilst the bite itself tends to be painless, you’ll soon find yourself scratching away at the urticaria-like marks.
It may seem obvious, but this sign is somewhat unreliable. After all, there are several insects that can produce a similar mark and many mosquito or flea bites have been wrongly attributed to bedbugs in the past. Some people also seem to be unaffected by the bites and will have little to no reaction.
Signs of an Infestation
There are four other important signs to look out for when trying to identify an infestation.
1. Living Bugs and Eggs
Again, this is an obvious one, but the small size and incongruous shape of bedbugs means that they can often go unnoticed for weeks. The average adult bedbug is oval shaped and around the size of an apple seed (3.5mm). They’re also almost entirely flat – about the width of a credit card – which means lots of them can be packed inside a tiny gap. They are light brown in colour but will swell up, become darker and take on a reddish hue after feeding.
The eggs are less than half a millimetre wide and a pale cream colour, making them very difficult to spot if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
2. Blood Smears
When feeding, a bedbug will sit for as long as ten minutes to suck blood from exposed skin. This leaves it in a rather vulnerable position so it’s unsurprising that they are often squashed when you move around in your sleep. Full of blood, their crushed bodies will end up as dark stains on mattresses, bedclothes or pyjamas.
3. Faecal Stains
You might assume that because they exist purely on blood, bedbug faeces will be red. This isn’t the case. Most faecal matter will be dark brown or black after being excreted. These tiny dark spots are often seen in clusters around the edges of mattresses.
4. Shed Exoskeletons
With each feed, a bedbug will grow larger and pressure will build up under its exoskeleton. Around once a week, a bedbug will shed this hard outer skin and leave behind a translucent shell. These will look almost identical to the bedbug itself and are often found inside divans and around headboards.
I’ve Discovered a Bedbug Infestation – What Now?
Before you start panicking, it’s important to know that bedbugs do not transmit diseases. Their presence also doesn’t mean that your home is “dirty.” Infestations have even been found in five star hotels!
However, they are extremely unpleasant and the endless itching from their bites will have you tearing your hair out in frustration. With bedbugs, it’s highly recommended that you seek the advice of a professional pest control company.
Infestations can linger for a long time, and many over-the-counter pesticides just aren’t strong enough to kill them.
If you’re concerned that you have a problem with bedbugs, and would like help with identification or extermination, don’t hesitate to contact Safeguard today, either online or by phone at 0800 328 4931.