Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood by piercing the skin. They do not live on humans or burrow into the skin. They are very mobile, but only move short distances to feed, so are commonly found near food (blood) sourcees. Generally, bed bugs are more of a nuisance pest than a serious health threat. There is no evidence to indicate that they transmit any infectious disease. Bed bugs can live up to six months at room temperature and can survive for long periods without a blood meal. They usually feed during the night, but bed bugs can be opportunistic feeders (feed whenever the opportunity is present).
What do they look like?
Adult bed bugs are 4–6mm in length, oval in shape and are dark reddish brown in colour. Juveniles are 1–5mm in length, depending on the growth stage and are cream in colour, becoming red to blackish after taking a blood meal. Adult females can lay up to three eggs per day, which hatch within 10 days (longer in cooler temperature). Eggs are creamy white and about 1mm in length.
Bed bugs have dorsoventrally flatten (thin) bodies, thus they can stay well hidden in narrow crevices and cracks.
Where are they found?
Bed bugs are most commonly found on mattresses, particularly along the stitched edges where there are folds that help to conceal them. They are also found on bed frames, in bed side furniture, in photo frames, behind wall paper, in cracks and crevices or other areas of a room that will provide them with protection, such as carpet edges, behind skirting boards or between wooden floor boards.
What are the signs?
- Live bed bugs or cast skins
- dark spots of bed bug excrement or blood. These can be found on bed sheets, mattresses, skirting boards or in cracks and crevices
- You may also notice bite marks on your skin, although 1 in 5 people bitten may not experience a reaction and the bite may not be noticed for up to 9 days. Skin reactions include redness, swelling and wheals up to 2cm in size, itching and burning sensations. Humans tend to be bitten most often on the shoulders and arms, in distinctive lines.
How are bed bugs spread?
Bed bugs can walk short distances to adjoining rooms or can be carried over greater distances in and on people’s luggage and belongings. This is how bed bugs are moved from infested premises to new premises around Australia and internationally.
How can I eradicate bed bugs?
Calling in professional pest controllers is a crucial part of eradication. There are no chemicals out there in supermarkets that work against bed bugs.