Any household can become infested with bedbugs. Though often associated with premises with low standards of hygiene, increased travel abroad has opened the doors of any house.
Bed bugs hide themselves in mattresses, within bed frames, under bed bases, within bed headboards, behind loose wallpaper, within paintings, wall sockets, and telephones. Also behind wall partitioning, suspended ceilings, skirting boards, on clothing or furnishings, and anywhere with a dark crack/crevice/seam providing harbourage. They normally come out at night, usually just before dawn, to feed on the blood of their sleeping hosts.
They like to stay close together. With frequent feeding, adults can live for up to 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.
In the UK bed bugs reach peak numbers towards early autumn when all stages in their life cycle will be present. Activities decrease with the onset of cold weather, egg laying ceases and the development of the juveniles slow down. Bed bugs spend the winter mainly as adults unless in adequately heated premises