Nobody wants to think about the bed bugs biting while they’re sleeping tight. Unfortunately, a bed bug infestation isn’t an uncommon problem. Although Australia was fairly bed bug free for a long time, they have reappeared with a vengeance in recent years. Some estimates say that since 2000, there has been a 5000% increase in bed bug population in Australia alone.
So when you’re out and about on business, what are the common signs of bed bugs that you should be looking out for?
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small parasites. They feed on blood of people and animals. They’re not big at only around 5mm or so, and are typically reddish brown. Before they feed, they’re more brown and have a flat body. After feeding, they go more red and become oval shaped.
Unfortunately, bed bugs spread very quickly. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs over a lifetime. They also latch on to clothes, luggage, linen, and other materials easily. This means that can “hitch a ride” and travel from a hotel back into a home, for instance.
You can see how a couple of bed bugs could quite easily become an infestation! So what are the signs of a bed bug infestation, and how can they be stopped in their tracks?
The below image from the Victorian Government’s Department of Health shows the lifecycle of the bed bug:
Common signs of a bed bug infestation
Bed bugs do leave bite marks, which can cause a range of problems including allergies and even blisters or hives. However, bed bug bites are not the most reliable way to detect an infestation as they are often mistaken for bites from other insects such as mosquitoes.
One of the most common and easily identifiable signs of a bed bug infestation is reddish brown marks on upholstery, bed linen, mattresses, and walls. These marks could be bed bug faecal marks, or could be blood from squashed bed bugs (when someone rolls over in their sleep, for instance.)
Another thing to look for is the eggs and egg cases of bed bugs. These are very small at around 1mm so can be hard to see. This is where a magnifying glass will come in handy. You can also look out for bed bug cast skins which are pale yellow and which immature bed bugs shed as they grow.
Obviously, if you can see live bed bugs then this is a sign that there are more hanging around. Although small, they are visible to the human eye and are quite easy to spot on mattresses, for example.
Stopping and treating a bed bug infestation
Knowing the habits of bed bugs can help you to spot them before the infestation gets out of control. Stopping a minor infestation is much easier than trying to gain control of a large one, so recognising an infestation before it takes hold is key.
How and where do bed bugs live?
Because bed bugs are so small, they can live in tiny cracks and crevices. Other than the bed itself, you can also find them hiding in walls or wooden items. Bed bugs might also be on headboards, inside springs, inside wallpaper, within bedding or mattress seams. Basically, they can hide pretty much anywhere!
They’re very hardy, and can survive temperatures from freezing up to around 45 degrees. They usually feed at night. During the day they’re often hiding away and difficult to find.
Getting rid of bed bugs
Almost all pest control professionals will deal with bed bugs at some point during their career. Getting rid of them isn’t always as simple as you might hope, though. According to a survey conducted in America by the National Pest Management Association, 76% of pest control professionals think that bed bugs are the hardest pest to eradicate.
When you’re working with your customer to eradicate bed bugs, remember the importance of a formal pest identification and treatment plan. This will help you to avoid legal ramifications. Once the treatment (or series thereof!) has been applied successfully, your customer should be able to maintain bed-bug free status.
One theory for the rise in bed bug populations is that bed linen is not being washed frequently or thoroughly enough. Bed bugs cannot survive in temperatures over about 45 degrees, so it’s important that linen is washed on a hot cycle (as long as the material can stand it). Mattresses and curtains should be steamed regularly or professionally cleaned.
Passing on this advice to your customers could help them to take any further bed bug visitors from creating a new infestation.
When you’re dealing with an infestation of bed bugs, be sure to keep the pets in mind! Bed bugs don’t only feed off humans, but any warm-blooded animals too. So dogs and cats are at risk too when bed bugs take hold of a building. Here’s our top tips for pet safety during pest control.
Keep your pest control insurance up to date
Remember, letting your pest control insurance expire can cost you thousands (or more). Any work you do – including bed bug treatment – could land you in a costly, messy legal situation[B1] that you would be liable to pay for in its entirety. Despite your best efforts on the job!
Start the professional indemnity insurance or general liability insurance quote process from Rapid Solutions. Once you’re a client, know we’ll contact you 4-6 weeks before your policy expires, so you’re never caught unaware.