Bed bugs: Three ways to avoid an infestation – have you tried this?

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown parasitic insects that often live in on furniture or bedding. Bedbugs bite exposed skin to feed on the blood. Although they are not known to spread disease, an infestation can be distressing. Maintaining house hygiene should keep the critters away, however.

According to the NHS, there are three main ways to ward of threat of bed bugs.

These include:

  • People should avoid keeping clutter under the bed
  • Avoid bringing secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first
  • A person should not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if they have come from somewhere where there were bedbugs

According to the Mayo Clinic, if a person is coming from a hotel, they should check mattress seams for bedbug excrement and place their luggage on tables or dressers instead of on the floor.

People should eliminate any neighbouring bird habitats that may serve as a refuge for bedbugs, added the health site.

Research also suggests it is important to travel with clean clothes.

The study, led by Dr William Hentley from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, suggests that leaving worn clothes exposed in sleeping areas when travelling may facilitate the dispersal of bed bugs.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the University of Sheffield research conducted experiments in two identical, temperature-controlled rooms in which four tote bags of clothes were placed – two containing soiled clothes, two with clean clothes – in the presence of bed bugs.

In each run of the experiment, one room received an increase in concentration of CO² to simulate human breathing.

The Sheffield scientists found that in the absence of a human host, bed bugs were twice as likely to aggregate on bags containing soiled clothes compared to bags containing clean clothes.

The study also found that in the room with increased concentrations of C0², bed bugs were more likely to leave their refuge and initiate host-seeking behaviour.

Results from the research suggest that residual human odour on soiled clothes acts as an elicitor of host-seeking behaviour in bed bugs.

Consequently, dirty laundry left in an open suitcase, or left on the floor of an infested room may attract bed bugs.

Dr William Hentley from the University of Sheffield said: “Bed bugs are a huge problem for hotel and homeowners, particularly in some of the world’s biggest and busiest cities.

Once a room is infested with bed bugs, they can be very difficult to get rid of, which can result in people having to dispose of clothes and furniture that can be really costly.

“Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations.”

It also important to recognise the early warning signs to stop infestations from spreading.

According to the NHS, signs of bedbugs include:

  • Bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
  • Spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
  • Small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

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