Bed bugs are small insects without wings and their main source of food is human blood. They can also suck the blood of animals but they are mostly associated with humans.
When they bite your skin they leave behind some red bumps that seem to follow a sequence. Mostly the bites do not cause pain.
They are very itchy though and appear on your skin almost every morning. The lesions left behind by a bed bug after feeding does not have to appear on a similar body part.
They are most common around Autumn when they are fully developed and they tend to decrease in numbers as the colder weather sets in.
The difficulty in spotting bedbugs arises in their size. They are only 5mm long but have a few distinctive characteristics. They are flat and oval-shaped, and reddish-brown in color.
Although after they have fed they become purple. Bedbugs have no wings so get around by crawling and are nocturnal by nature so become even more difficult to spot. However, they do have a slight smell of almonds or over-ripe raspberries!
Many people associate bedbugs with poverty and overcrowded, unhygienic accommodation, but contrary to popular belief they can appear at any household if brought in by a carrier.
They like to hide in and near beds as their name suggests because their optimum feeding time is early morning.
Unfortunately, even if there is no host for a bedbug to feed on, they can survive for up to a year without feeding – although they do prefer to feed every five to ten days if it is available to them.
The best way to avoid bedbugs in your house is to keep it as hygienic as possible, as an unclean house is more likely to attract them naturally. However, it is more difficult to avoid an infestation if they are carried in on a host or other animal.
If you think you do have an infestation of bedbugs, it is helpful to try and work out where they are nesting. Look around beds and sofas, or other warm places that are likely to be close to humans.
Once you have identified where they have made their home it will be much easier to get rid of them.
There are a number of pesticide products on the market that are helpful for getting rid of bedbugs however make sure you read the label as some may be harmful to other animals in your home and may not be the most sustainable solution.
If in doubt, contact a pest control specialist who will be able to either recommend the best product for the job or deal with the problem for you in a professional and sustainable way.