Bed bugs are small non-flying insects with a flat oval shape about the size of an apple pip. Their flattened body allows them to squeeze into small cracks and crevices and as a result they can be hard to detect or eradicate. They are blood sucking and require blood for nutrition and development.
Bed bugs feed mostly at night when their host is asleep. Bites can cause small, hard, swollen welts on the skin that may become inflamed and itch severely.
In Australia, there are 2 species:
Cimex lectularius – The common bed bug that prefers to feed on human blood.
Cimex hemipterus– The tropical bed bug.
Signs of a bed bug infestation:
– Blood spotting on bedding as well as walls and furniture;
– Skin welts and irritation caused by the bites;
– A sweet musty smell (less noticeable except in extreme cases or up close).
Homes can become infested with bed bugs in a variety of ways such as through:
– Bugs and eggs being inadvertently brought in from other infested dwellings or on a visitors personal clothing or luggage;
– Infested items (such as furniture, clothing or backpacks) being brought in;
– Nearby dwellings or infested items if easy routes are available for travel e.g. through ducts or false ceilings;
– Wild animals (such as bats or birds) that may also harbour bed bugs;
– People visiting an infested area (e.g. dwellings, means of transport, entertainment venues or lodging) and carrying the bugs to another area on their clothing, luggage or bodies. Bed bugs are increasingly found in air travel;
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