Bed Bugs in Australia
If you are reading this, you may have heard that bed bugs in Australia, once relegated to nursery rhymes and the pages of old books, have made an enormous comeback in recent decades after almost being eliminated last century. Since the 1980s, pesticide-resistant bed bugs have spread around the globe, infesting homes and businesses in developed and developing countries alike. Difficult to eradicate and detrimental to the health and wellbeing of those affected, bed bug infestations are one of the most important targets for today’s producers of intelligent, effective, and safe non-invasive healthcare products.
It’s important to have some insight into the bed bug, its nature, and the issues associated with bed bug infestation. On this page, we will go through the basics and cover the things you need to know about these nuisance pests.
• Bed bug bites can cause allergic reactions in some people, whilst others may have no symptoms. Typically, bed bug bites resulting from a serious infestation cause swollen, itchy, rash-like marks on the skin.
• Mattresses, beds, and bedroom furniture are common sites of bed bug infestation.
• Luckily, there is no evidence that bed bugs are capable of transmitting diseases to people through their bites.
What are bed bugs?
The bed bug is a small, wingless insect with a range covering most of the developed and developing world. Mostly nocturnal, bed bugs are a parasite that feed almost exclusively on the blood of human hosts, usually while a person is sleeping. This is how bed bugs got their name, as their preferred habitat is bedding material used by human hosts.
With well-developed mouthparts that are capable of piercing the skin, bed bug bites can be painless in many cases, and it is the high number and frequency of bites that leads to discomfort for the host. Bed bug bites typically cause swollen, itchy rashes which may be caused by an allergic reaction to bed bug saliva or an immune response to the presence of so many bites. Luckily, some people have no reaction to bed bug bites and may not even notice that their bed is home to a bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs are known to occasionally carry diseases, such as those caused by pathogenic bacteria and viruses, but there are few if any reported cases of these diseases being transferred to human hosts through bites. Generally speaking, bed bugs are not dangerous to their hosts, but the presence of a bed bug infestation can be incredibly distressing and inconvenient for all concerned.
Bed bugs feed on human blood, and prefer to prey on humans wherever possible (although they are known to feed on other animals in some situations). An adult bed bug can go for a year or longer without feeding, which means that a few bed bugs missed during an eradication attempt can result in reinfestation soon after as well as dispersal of the bed bugs to new infestation sites.
Adult bed bugs are brown in colour, but swell up and change colour from brown to red after feeding on a human host.
Bed bug hiding spots
Bed bugs are hardy creatures capable of living in diverse settings, though they prefer to be in as close contact with humans as possible. Typical areas in which bed bugs may be found include:
• Bedding material, including blankets, sheets, pillows, sleeping bags etc.
• Mattresses and other sleeping equipment, particularly along seems and inside any tears or creases that may be present.
• Underneath loose folds of wallpaper or other surface coverings.
• Inside cracks in walls and wooden floors.
• Furniture such as couches, sofas, chairs etc., especially furniture with cracks, seems, or folds where bed bugs can hide.
• On or underneath carpet, especially in the bedroom,
What causes bed bug infestation
Bed bugs are attracted to the human hosts via body heat and other mechanisms. Often hiding in luggage, furniture, bedding, and clothing, they may travel from place to place without the host knowing and establish infestations in suitable spots.
Bed bug infestations are much more common in situations where a large number of dwellings or occupied spaces are located close together, such as motels, hotels, apartment and unit complexes, and hostels.
Whilst it is possible for any home or dwelling to suffer a bed bug infestation, regular vacuuming, cleaning, and replacement of bedding can discourage the establishment of a serious bed bug infestation, and may prevent bed bugs spreading throughout the premises.
How to recognise bed bug infestation
Due to the small size of the bed bug, and its habit of feeding on sleeping humans, other signs may become apparent before any of the bugs themselves are noticed. In most cases, the presence of a bed bug infestation is first identified by the bites on people sleeping in affected areas.
If you believe that you or someone else may have been bitten by bed bugs, the best way to verify this is to conduct a thorough examination of your bedrooms and other problem areas. During your inspection, keep an eye out for:
• Live bed bugs, though they can be difficult to spot due to their small size and habit of hiding during the day when their hosts are not available.
• Bloodstains or marks from bed bugs that have been squashed on mattresses or sheets.
• Bed bug excrement, which looks like dark, rust-coloured spots and is often found on affected mattresses and carpets.
• A distinctive scent, which is often described as being similar to rotting raspberries, though this is usually only noticeable in severe bed bug infestations.
Treating a bed bug infestation
The earlier a bed bug infestation is identified, the easier it will be to eradicate them from the affected area. First of all, by washing affected bedding and thoroughly vacuuming the infested premises, you may be able to suck up and destroy many of the bugs and their eggs. Leaving affected mattresses inside a plastic mattress bag in a sunny position can destroy the bed bugs by overheating them, which also makes steam cleaning a good option for affected areas.
These steps are not guaranteed to succeed, and the only way to prevent and eradicate bed bug infestation is by using an approved specialty product that is designed to control bed bugs. Do not use household insecticides or pesticides, as bed bugs are largely resistant to these methods which can also be harmful to people who are exposed to them. (may conflict with our topical consumer aerosol, however our interest is targeting large bedding manufacturers and application prior to sale to consumer – What do you think?)
Bed bugs in Australia are a serious nuisance pest issue that requires safe and effective, non-invasive solutions to prevent stress and discomfort to those affected.