In 2017, it was all over the news: the number of bedbug infestations was on the rise and Australia was particularly hard-hit. In 2020, people are still struggling to control these parasitic bugs. We asked Australian pest control expert Lee Maddocks, owner of Richards Pest Control on the Gold Coast, just why they’re still a problem, and what should be done to treat bedbug infestations.
Bedbugs are Hard to Kill, and they Love Hitching a Ride
It turns out that two things people like: safer pesticides and world travel, are to blame for the resurgence in bedbug populations. Back in the days when it was thought old-fashioned insecticides like DDT weren’t all that dangerous to humans, they became very scarce indeed. But in recent decades, the particularly harmful pesticides have been taken off the market because we recognize their dangers. The hardy little bugs then gradually became resistant to the less harmful pesticides, turning them into tough-to-kill little monsters.
At the same time, global travel became the norm rather than the exception, and budget travellers making use of motels and backpackers hostels may have been the unwitting carriers who brought bed bugs into their homes after returning from their adventures.
“Researchers found that bedbugs just love dirty laundry, and you know how it is when you’re travelling. There are always a few items of dirty washing in your luggage. So if you’re staying in a place with tropical bedbugs, a relatively new species on the Australian scene, and there’s dirty laundry in your bag, you might just pick up some unwelcome hitchhikers,” says Mr Maddocks.
Finding and Killing Bedbugs – a Quick Guide
Now that they’re back and breeding, just about any home can become a bedbug’s buffet. According to Maddocks, a person hardly feels the bite: “When they find a host, they inject an anaesthetic at the same time as delivering the bite. So you only feel it later on when you begin to itch. But there are several insects that deliver itchy bites, so the next step is to look for the culprits.”
Bedbugs like to lurk in dark places, hiding in the seams or beading at the edges of mattresses – but that’s just the start. Once they become well-established, they’ll take over just about any crevice, and since they like a short commute, it will initially be near the bed. The newly hatched insects are very small and hard to spot, but it’s usually possible to see the adults easily enough. However, finding them is just the start.
“There are effective ways to treat bedbugs, but as soon as you begin to hurt them, they raise the alarm using pheromone signals, and the survivors nearby will be quick to move out unless you’ve blocked every possible exit. They’re just biding their time. They’ll be back to catch you napping,” says Lee.
Nevertheless, if someone is in the early stages of a bedbug infestation, they might just be able to nail the bugs themselves. High temperatures will kill them, so applying a steam iron to your mattress could do the trick. Be sure to heat treat bedding too and wash it afterwards to make extra sure. Small items can spend the night in the freezer before washing, and of course, thorough vacuum cleaning can help to get rid of them. Dispose of any waste or discarded items by sealing them in plastic first to prevent escapees from getting out.
When to Call for Help From a Pest Control Expert
Completely getting rid of an established bedbug population is a tricky business. “They move into the sneakiest spots – even behind wallpaper,” says Mr Maddocks. “And there’s also the problems of eggs lying dormant until the right conditions come along. A lot of people say they think they’ve got their bedbug problem under control, only to find it recurring.”
The good news is that bedbugs don’t carry disease – but they will disturb your sleep and leave you full of itchy bites. If everything has been done to control bedbugs but they keep coming back, it’s time to get professional help in the battle of the bug. “It’s a process rather than an event,” says Mr Maddocks. “We need to follow up to make sure we’ve really got them, but we always win in the end.”
For more information on all things pest control and ridding your home of unwanted guest including bedbugs or to learn more about how Richards Pest Control can keep your home properly maintained, visit the Best Pest Control In Gold Coast & Tweed | Richards Pest Control or call Lee and his team for a no obligation quotation on (07) 5533 9512.