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Bed Bugs

Identifying bed bugs
Bed Bugs come in two main types, the more prolific Common Bed Bug can be usually found in dwellings, and the less common Martin bug, that typically makes its home in birds' nests, but has been know to bite people. The Common bed bug (as pictured) are oval-shaped insects without wings. They are roughly 5mm (1/5") long, with the six legs the same as all insects, as well as two antennae. They are usually a red-brown and quite flat in profile. They do turn a darker reddish-purple after feeding and swell to a more rounded shape.


Bed bugs are named for their favourite hunting ground, but they don't actually live within bedding. They generally hide in mattresses, bed frames, and any other small spaces that are close to beds. They stay in groups, feeding together. With a regular food source an adult bed bug can live for as much as 18 months.

They breed by laying eggs that usually hatch after about 10 to 20 days. The bugs then grow through a series of stages. At each stage they need to feed on blood, until they become adults after about nine to 18 weeks. A female can lay between 150 and 345 eggs in her life.

The presence of bedbugs in a room can be detected by the following

  • blood spotting on bedding
  • brown excrement spots close to where they live and on bedding
  • whitish/opaque un-hatched and hatched eggs
  • in heavy infestations, a sweet almond smell is common
  • bed bugs are not normally seen during the day

Bed bugs will not travel too far from their host, but can move into adjacent rooms via interconnecting ducting/spaces. They are most likely to be transferred from place to place via infested linen, clothing, furniture and other articles. In hotels and hostels, housekeeping staff can unknowingly transfer bed bugs around the premises on all of the items mentioned above and guests can take bed bugs with them from hotel to hotel and eventually to their own home.

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Are bed bugs a health hazard?
Bed bugs are not known to carry disease. However, they feed on human blood, usually at night whilst people are asleep in their beds. They inject a fluid into their host to help get their blood meal. These bites cause irritation and itching. Some people are particularly sensitive to the bites and experience an allergy and inflammation, especially to the arms and shoulders. This can be quite severe and require medical attention.

How to get rid of bed bugs?
High standards of hygiene and housekeeping ensure that the presence of bed bugs is revealed at an early stage. Bed bugs can thrive where hygiene standards are poor and housekeeping sloppy. In hotels and hostels house-keeping staff should be trained to identify the signs of bed bug infestation and whilst cleaning rooms should be alert management to the possibility of infestation. Infested bedding and furnishings should be laundered in a hot wash, and care should be taken not to aid dispersal of the infestation via laundry baskets. In severe cases, items of furniture will require removal and burning. It is difficult to treat bedbugs yourself and you should seek professional help.

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