Bed bugs – Cimex lectularius – are small blood-sucking parasitic insects. They emerge at night from mattresses and crevices in beds to feed on your blood.
Unlike mosquitoes, which also behave in this way, bed bugs do not carry or transmit any diseases.
While many of us don’t react to bed bug bites, some people develop itchy, red bumps between one and nine days after being bitten. If you do develop an itch, then a combination of a mild steroid skin cream and non-sedating antihistamine tablets should help your skin clear up in about a week.
Adult bed bugs look a bit like lentils and are visible to the naked eye. They are oval-shaped, flat and reddish-brown, and may grow to about 5mm in length. As they grow, they shed their skin, which looks like mottled brown shells on your mattress.
Bed bugs can spread easily from room to room, and infect right away your leesa bedding. They do not fly but can crawl quickly. They can spread within a building by getting through holes in walls or pipes, and can potentially invade apartment blocks and hotels. The bugs can also be transported in luggage, furniture and bedding.
Although bed bugs do not carry or spread disease, their presence is upsetting for most of us and so it is best to take action to eradicate them.
This is best done by a commercial pest control firm, which may need to treat the affected area on two separate occasions with a chemical insecticide.
If clothes or bedlinen have become infested, wash them at 60 degrees Centigrade and place them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes to kill the bugs.