Bed bugs are a significant problem in India and around the world. They are easily spread and difficult to treat resulting in a rapid growth in the number of bed bug outbreaks. The key to beating this problem is to raise awareness of what to look for and to ensure bed bugs are dealt with quickly once discovered.
Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and other mammals. While it is possible for bedbugs to transmit disease, in India it is very rare. Instead, the primary concern is the irritation and distress caused by bed bug bites.
Bed bug bites do not hurt. It is the itchiness that results from the body’s reaction to them that causes discomfort. Treating the bites soothes the irritation, but it can still be very distressing when there are multiple bites as is often the case with bedbugs. Multiple bites and contact with bedbugs can also lead to an itchy rash or eczema. Consult a pharmacist for advice and treatment if this occurs.
How to identify bed bugs
Bed bugs have small, flat, oval-shaped bodies. They are wingless. Adults do have the vestiges of wings called wing pads, but they do not fully develop into functional wings.
Adults are brown in color, although their bodies redden after feeding. Full-grown bed bugs move relatively slowly and measure between 4 to 5 mm. Homeowners sometimes have the misconception that bed bugs are too small to see with the naked eye. The nymphs may be small and difficult to see, but the adults are detectable with the naked eye and may be found in the cracks and crevices they use to hide.
Newly hatched nymphs are approximately the size of the head of a pin and are white or tan until they feed. They often are described as being about the size and shape of an apple seed.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
- Seeing the bugs: Adult bed bugs are about the shape and size of an apple seed.
- Case skins: As the juvenile bugs grow, they shed their skins, discovery of which can indicate their presence.
- Defecation (bed bug droppings): After feeding, bed bugs return to their harborage to hide where they defecate black to brown stains on porous surfaces or black to brown mounds on nonporous surfaces.
- Bites also may indicate bed bug activity, but further signs will need to be found, since other sources can cause red welts on the skin.
How do you get bed bugs?
You can pick up bed bugs almost anywhere — offices, stores, hotels and gyms for starters. They’re great at hiding and have been known to hitchhike in luggage, personal belongings or even you. Once indoors, they can be very difficult to control without the help of an experienced pest specialist. You can reduce your chances of a costly bed bug infestation by catching them early.
Bed Bugs Tips
- Remove all clutter from your home, which makes finding bed bugs easier.
- Wash and dry your bed linens on the hottest temperature permitted.
- Closely inspect any second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.
- Inspect your home after moving, trips, service calls or overnight guests.