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Bed are parasites that feed on humans and they’ve been around since the 17th Century. In the 1930s, 30 percent of all homes in the UK were infested. The figure is much lower these days, but there has been a resurgence in cases in the last 15 years. How do you get bed bugs, and what’s the difference between bed bugs and fleas?
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects of about five to seven millimetres long.
They are a reddish-brown colour, oval-shaped and flat, and they can be found hiding in tiny cracks and crevices- particularly beds and other furniture.
Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but they tend to hide during the day and come out at night to feed on humans.
They can survive for months without feeding, so it’s important to sort the problem as soon as you spot it.
READ MORE- Red spots spots that become ‘raised’ may indicate a bed bug bite
How do you get bed bugs?
Bed Bugs don’t spring up due to poor hygiene or bad housekeeping, they are often found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover.
For example, hotels, hostels, university halls, and prisons, all have lots of different people coming and going, so it’s easy for bed bugs to spread.
Bed bugs were originally parasites which took bats as their hosts and lived in caves, but when people moved into the cave the bed bugs sucked their blood instead.
Bed bugs hitchhiked with the cavepeople and they spread through Europe and Asia and then elsewhere.
With more and more people travelling for business and leisure, bed bugs are spreading rapidly.
How do you know you have bed bugs?
Bed bugs tend to hide during the day and sometimes you won’t see them at all.
One sign of bed bugs is bites on the skin, and nine in 10 people show signs of being bitten.
Bed bug bites tend to be found on the areas which are exposed while you’re sleeping like the face, neck and arms.
Some people have a reaction to the bites and they may be very itchy or cause painful swelling.
The bites may form a line, cluster, or be in a zigzag pattern.
You may also see spots of blood on your bedding from the bites or from squashing the bed bug while sleeping or small brown spots of bed bug poo on bedding or furniture.
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What’s the difference between bed bugs and fleas?
If you have a pet, you may have experienced flea bites before.
It can be tricky to tell the difference between bed bug bites and flea bites.
One way to tell is by judging where the bites are on your body, as flea bites are more likely to be found on the lower half of your body or in areas like the bends of your elbows and knees.
Bed bug bites are more likely to be found on the upper half of your body such as your face, neck and arms.
Bed bug bites have a dark red spot in the middle of a raised area of skin.
How do you get rid of bed bugs?
If you suspect you have bed bugs, you’ll need to contact your local council or pest control service.
Bed bugs can be resistant to some insecticides and so it can be tricky to get rid of them.
Immediately wash your bedding and clothing on a hot wash at 60 degrees, or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least half an hour.
Alternatively, freeze the affected bedding and clothing for four days.
Make sure you clean and hoover your mattress at least a few times a year.
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