Danger in Bed - Dont be Bugged!

By: Adam Singleton

It appears that global warming is having another unappealing effect, this time in our beds! Experts are claiming that a warmer climate combined with increased foreign travel is leading to an increase in bed bug infestation throughout the UK. However, a warmer world can't take all the blame as the rise of the car boot sale and second-hand furniture shops have also their part to play in the spread of these virulent little creatures.

Only three decades ago the bugs were thought to be totally eradicated, but it appears that news of their demise was premature. They are back in bigger numbers than ever before and not only have they returned but they are far more resistant to common pesticides. Hospitals, students' lodgings and even luxury hotels have all been hit by the mites and in some cases lawsuits from itchy residents leading those in the hospitality business to take the issue extremely seriously.

Bed bugs live for around four months, but are able to reproduce after only five weeks. Mature females can lay 10 - 50 eggs at a time and produce between 200 and 500 in a lifetime. Eggs take between one and three weeks to hatch and before dying the mites will grow up to 5mm in length, shedding their skin several times before achieving maximum length. These voracious mites are able to consume several times their own bodyweight at one sitting, dining on human blood, their preferred snack. Once full, they begin to defecate, leaving odious black deposits which are extremely unpleasant and very difficult to remove from most surfaces.

Because they feed on blood, they are equally at home in the dirtiest of hovels or the finest luxury palaces. If you are unlucky enough to be dined upon by bed bugs you may notice wheals or irritation where you have been bitten, but apart from that discomfort you will not be threatened by any fatal diseases.

They are clever little suckers, as they have a very flat body enabling them to live in the smallest of crevices, even in a crack between two sheets of wallpaper. Most commonly they live in the corners of furniture, not just beds. Wealth and social status is no barrier to bed bugs, they don't discriminate between cheap or luxury bed linen as a place to live.

Because of the way that bed bugs can hide in the smallest crevices it takes an expert with a specialist insecticide to eliminate the pest. However, in the past it wasn't always that way. According to legend, 19th century Gentlemen would travel with a pig when they were due to stay at hotels with which they unfamiliar. They would put the pig to bed first letting the bed bugs get their fill, before they retired for the evening.

Thankfully, it's not yet got to the point where we have to dash out and buy a Vietnamese pot-bellied hog as a travel companion before we dare sleepover at the local hostelry, but experts do predict that bed bug numbers will rise in the short term, until awareness is raised and people call in the professionals.

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