Tuesday 15 October 2019

Don't let the bed bugs bite: 2016 sees 80pc increase in infestations but what counties are suffering the most?

woman sleeping in bed
woman sleeping in bed
Bed bug. Photo: Rentokill Ireland
Bed bug and bites. Photo: Rentokill Ireland
Bed bug. Photo: Rentokill Ireland
Bed bug. Photo: Rentokill Ireland
Cluster of bed bugs (Stock photo) Photo credit: Rentokill Ireland

Bed bugs have become a growing nuisance in Ireland in recent years.

Data collected by Rentokil Ireland shows an 80 per cent increase in call outs for bed bug infestations, compared to the same period in 2015.

Furthermore, infestations numbers have almost doubled in the two last years, with a 43 per cent increase recorded between 2014 and 2015

Whilst the impact of this increase has been felt nationwide, Dublin and Kerry have experienced the highest number of call outs, at 60 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

The majority of call outs have been to hotels and B&Bs but also to family homes. Increased frequency of foreign travel by Irish nationals, as well as visitors from overseas, is believed to have played a large role in this increase.

Bed bugs spread easily and are difficult to treat, resulting in rapid growth in the number of bed bug outbreaks. The key to beating this problem is to know how to avoid them and to ensure bed bugs are dealt with quickly if discovered in the home.

Dr Colm Moore, Area Technical Manager at Rentokil UK, Ireland and the Baltics, explains: “Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not a sign of poor hygiene, they’re simply a pest that can be inadvertently introduced anywhere that has a regular turnover of people and luggage. The most common places to pick up bed bugs, therefore, are hotels and B&B’s.”

“For anyone travelling, it’s important to be bed bug aware in order to reduce the likelihood of being bitten and, perhaps more importantly, inadvertently bringing them home in your clothes or luggage. Taking a few precautionary steps can make all the difference.

“Inspect your bed to look for signs of bed bugs. Pay particular attention to the head and foot of the bed, and look at the mattress, the mattress seams, the frame of the bed and the head board. 

“Look for live or dead insects, which can vary in size from 2mm - 5mm in length.

“Adult bed bugs that have recently fed will be more visible and look similar to the colour and shape of an apple pie, perhaps a little more flattened and disk shaped in appearance.

“Look for staining at the head of your mattress and/or bed frame especially in the corners as this could indicate current activity.  It would appear as if someone had sprinkled small coffee grounds on the area.

Cluster of bed bugs (Stock photo) Photo credit: Rentokill Ireland

“If you suspect you have bed bugs in your hotel or B&B accommodation, notify reception immediately.

“Leave your luggage and belongings in place.  Don't drag your luggage throughout the accommodation as if it is an infestation you may end up spreading the problem.

“If you have been travelling a lot and moving from one accommodation to another then ensure you clean your clothes regularly.

“As soon as you return home, wash and tumble dry (where possible) your clothes.

“If possible wash your luggage.  Temperatures above 60°C will kill all stages of the bed bug.”

If a bed bug infestation is identified, it is best to call a professional pest controller to assess the extent of the problem.  Taking a DIY approach may have some effect on small or localised infestations but generally you need to know what you’re doing in order to tackle the problem fully.

The longer the infestation is left unattended, the worse it will potentially get.  

Bed bugs are not known to carry any harmful diseases, however, they do suck blood from humans and in doing so they may inject their own saliva into the bite area, causing itching and swelling.

Multiple bites can lead to an itchy rash or eczema. Bed bugs come out at night and are attracted by the warmth of human bodies and carbon dioxide in their breath. Understanding the signs and knowing what to look for will help to keep bed bug numbers under control, however, professional treatment will be required to eradicate an infestation.

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