Bed bugs

Bed bugs – what can we do to prevent them from appearing in our home and how can we get rid of them?

Local News National

Bed bugs can hide not only in beds, but also in the crevices of our various furniture, in the crevices of doors and windows, behind picture frames, and even in our clothes. They attack people unexpectedly, usually at night, causing itching and a lot of discomfort. How can they be noticed, how can they be eradicated and how can we prevent the problem at all? We asked István Horváth, the managing director of Fedora Kft. in Szeged.

For the sake of those among whom – and we hope there are many of them – the bed bug is not known, could you describe its main characteristics?

The bed bug is an insect that avoids light and sticks to a specific place. During the day, it hides in crevices, cracks, narrow crevices, dark, draft-free and noise-free places. It stays so deep in cracks and crevices that its back and belly are in contact with the wall of the hiding place. Its hiding places can be very diverse: it can hide in the crevices of beds, furniture, crevices in door and window casings, behind picture frames, in the pipes of electric cables and distribution boxes, in the suspension places of chandeliers and even in light switch boxes. It usually lives in the high places of the room, but it can also hide among books and clothes. Bed bugs cannot survive in a damp, damp apartment, because they usually fall victim to fungal diseases. It moves quite fast, covering a distance of one meter per minute, but it can also be faster in case of danger. It climbs well on both smooth and vertical surfaces. A characteristic blood-sucking parasite that also does not survive outdoors.

What makes it different from the common bed bug?

Mostly its appearance. The bed bug is a 4-8 millimeter long, round, rust-brown, wingless, spiny insect when it is fully grown. Its legs have claws and suction cups. The male and female are similar in appearance, but the female is slightly larger. Before feeding, its body is flat, and disk-like, after feeding, its body expands and lengthens. Bed bugs live an average of 18 months. Adult bed bugs can survive for 2 weeks at 4°C and 30°C, but can only survive for 1 hour during a sudden cooling to 0°C and a sudden warming to 37°C. Washing at 40°C kills adults and insects in the larval stage. However, 60°C is necessary to destroy the eggs. For example, a 30-minute washing machine drying program will kill all bed bugs in their developmental stages. If the temperature is more than 40°C, 15 minutes is enough to kill the insects. Below freezing, at -17°C, a maximum of two hours is required to destroy all developmental forms.

How can an average person spot bed bugs?

The bed bug starts looking for food in complete darkness when its alimentary canal is almost empty. The difference in heat and humidity can only be found very close to the person. It prefers to feed on human blood, but in case of prolonged starvation, it can also suck animal blood (e.g. poultry, pigeons, bats). It draws blood every two days in hot weather, and weekly in cooler weather. It senses the place on humans suitable for sucking blood with its sense organ at the end of its suction cup. It takes 5-10 minutes to draw blood. After that, the bed bugs return to their hiding place. People then develop an itchy sensation. Rashes appear on the arms, abdomen and legs, which cause itching, and in fact, this can be used to determine whether the person has encountered bed bugs. From then on, all of this should be treated like the flu, or that person should not socialize for at least two weeks, because even if the extermination is done in their apartment, bed bug eggs can still be found on clothes and objects.

Do you find them in apartments or rather houses?

Surely only a few people know the 18/1998. (VI. 3.) NM (epidemiological) decree no. 4 to prevent the harm caused by bed bugs, the Annex stipulates the following: at least twice a year, an exterminating treatment must be carried out in the following places: hotels; in resorts; in student residences; in workers’ and mass accommodation, as well as in all other places where the residents change frequently. People usually bring it into their property themselves, along with various household items, such as used furniture, books, pictures, and clothes. Where many people stay temporarily, i.e. the hotels, dormitories, workers’ hostels, temporary hostels, and hospitals just mentioned, there you have to constantly reckon with bringing in the residents with their belongings. Moreover, within buildings with central heating, it can spread to neighboring apartments in the same active way through pipe breaks. These gaps should be filled with plasticine.

Bed bugs are mostly present in Szeged, including in residential communities. Unfortunately, we meet them most often among less wealthy people and in apartments where many more people are living together than the given apartment can handle. Despite this, it often happens that the bed bug only sucks the blood of one person, not all the people living there.

What traumas does the presence of bed bugs cause in people?

It’s a very good question, because in most cases, after the extermination, those who were the victims of everything have a hard time falling asleep, because they are afraid. Or they keep scratching, cleaning all the time, washing everything repeatedly and so on. This is natural, but after the extermination, we try to make the customers aware that the chemicals we worked with are safe and we try to guarantee that they will not reencounter the problem. Of course, they have to be careful about this. We ask them to notify us in time if bed bugs reappear, and not to look for a solution on the Internet, or try to remedy the problem based on that.

In the long term, what kind of solutions do you tend to prefer in such cases?

The goal is always destruction. Today, some appropriate methods and exterminators are suitable for achieving the goal. The most effective method of exterminating bed bugs is spraying, and eliminating the permanent toxic field. Spraying is achieved using additional technologies for a faster killing effect. This is always determined by the operation of the given property. Contact with the poison field can be ensured by expelling it with the formation of cold fog, and to accelerate the killing effect, smoke generation/air saturation can be used primarily.

But also for prevention, spraying is primarily suitable, which can be used to destroy passively introduced insects, thus preventing their establishment and reproduction. Second-hand furniture, pictures, and antique books should be carefully examined when buying and immediately before placing them in our apartment.

In addition, it is very important to recheck the area that has already been treated and, if necessary, treat the surfaces (hiding places) again after five to six days or a week. In the case of mass accommodation, it can also happen that a property’s complete freedom from bed bugs can only be ensured by three or four consecutive treatments because the risk of continuous infestation is high. From the point of view of increasing efficiency, it is expedient to treat the immediate neighbors of rooms infested with bed bugs. In dormitories, hotels, and mass hostels, special attention must be paid to common rooms and corridors, as well as cleaning and storage areas infested with bed bugs.

Translated from Tamara Rósa’s article from Szegedi Nap page. 

Photo: Yvette Frank

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