About Bed Bugs
Despite Bed Bugs being a problem in the UK for Centuries few people under the age of 50 have ever seen one – until recently that is. During the 50’s and 60’s the UK’s bed bug infestation problem diminished considerably. This was due to extensive use of harsh pesticides such as DDT, but as countries have begun to realise the hazards associated with these chemicals they begin banning them.
Hence bed bugs are on the rise again, and not only that the exposure to harsh chemicals throughout the 50’s and 60’s appears to have toughened them up as recent tests from across the United States have shown tolerances to insecticides greater than laboratory bed bugs. Other tests show that the bed bugs in New York City to be 264 times more resistant to deltamethrin than bed bugs in Florida.
It is widely estimated that bed bug infestations in the UK are currently increasing by around 40% per year. However even this alarmist estimate may not be very accurate as experts believe that many of the UK bed bug infestations are not reported. Understandably there are a multitude of people and organisations who are either ashamed or do not want their establishment to become associated with the problem and so try and eradicate the infestation on their own as opposed to reporting it.
So bed bugs are undoubtedly on the rise and in the UK its set to get a lot worse! Increased travel overseas and bringing the bed bugs back unknowingly is thought to be one of the main reasons for the increase in infestations. After hosting the Olympic Games in Sydney, the bed bug infestation was enormous, with estimates that 95% of hotels were infected in some form or another!
Eradicating bed bugs is not as simple as some would have you believe, despite usually feeding every 5-10 days they can survive a whole year without actually feeding, each female produces around 500 eggs and they prefer to reside close to where there host sleeps and so often bury themselves deep inside mattresses, headboards, cracks in walls and furniture etc.
Bed bugs do not indicate untidy or unclean residence or establishments. They are found in some of the cleanest establishments and because they are somewhat nocturnal and elusive, they are difficult to find, leaving only a few tell tale signs that include malted, blood spots and tiny spots of bed bug excrement.
Amazingly approximately half of the people bitten by bed bugs will not show any signs of bites whatsoever but they may experience nausea, anxiety or insomnia instead. A patient may have a sensation of bugs crawling on them when trying to sleep and the bites will often produce swelling similar to a mosquito’s bite because a bed bug bite will have a red spot in the centre that is similar to a flea bite. The bites will generally be in groups of three, about 6mm or ¼” apart.
Bed bugs have small teeth in the mandibular stylet. These teeth move back and forth alternately, affording the insect the ability to cut the tissue and make a path allowing them to reach the appropriate sized vessel to obtain blood. It will return to the same capillary vessel repeatedly, which is why there will be multiple bites close to one another.
Once the insect has completed feeding it will return to its dark and safe hiding place, it takes only 5-10minutes for the bed bug to completely engorge itself with blood.
Bed Bug Treatments
Cockroaches, spiders, centipedes, ants and mites are all natural predators of the bed bug but not exactly welcomed residents of most homes and hotel establishments.
Harsh chemicals such as DDT and other chemicals that were chlorinated hydrocarbon have now been banned and our modern insecticides seem to be in-affective against bed bugs. We are now also facing bed bugs that have some level of resistance to insecticides.
There are some rather unique bed bug detectors on the market one of which is dogs who can be trained to sift out and pin point infestations- the question does though remain- once the infestation has been pin pointed- how do we deal with it?
Other 19th Century techniques include smoke from a peat fire, using fungi, plants and their extracts such as black cohosh, black pepper, eucalyptus oil, infused oil of melolonth vulgaris, henna, actaea, tobacco and a whole host of other extracts that really just belong in the 19th and not the 21st Century.
However the only real way, currently understood and proven to kill bed bugs is temperature. Despite being able to survive for several days in temperatures as low as -10 Degrees Celsius, all life cycles of bed bugs are killed within seven minutes of being subjected to a temperature of just 45 Degrees Celsius. Working with Ecolab, the world’s largest pest elimination organisation, Xeric has developed heating technology which raises the temperature to 56 Degrees Celsius, which kills the complete breeding cycle. The temperatures are maintained and monitored for two hours using sophisticated electronic technology ensuring any potential cold spots are treated and that heat penetrates all surfaces. This system is capable of sterilising multiple rooms, corridors, stair wells and the like concurrently.
Targeting the source of the infestation is not always effective, introducing temperature increases to the whole area and eradication is total and complete as hot air penetrates all surfaces which proves intolerable to all pests inclusive of bed bugs.
The added benefit of using Xeric’s unique heat system is that it uses little or no chemicals to achieve its aim.