Bed bugs can truly be the bane of one’s existence. Those pesky, blood-sucking parasites can be extremely difficult to get rid of, especially if you try and do it yourself. The most common and only species of bed bug found in Singapore is the cimex hemipterus (fabricus), better known as the tropical bed bug.
Its identifiable characteristics include a small size, flat, oval-shape, and brown colour. After feeding on blood, the initially flat body swells and becomes a reddish colour. It is easily mistaken for the similar-looking cimex lectularius (linnaeus), which inhabits temperate regions and is otherwise known as the common bed bug.
Bed bugs are most active at night as they engorge themselves on the host’s blood while he/she is asleep. However, in the day, they hibernate, hiding away from the light and keeping out of reach in small, deep crevices in your home. Furthermore, though they are wingless and thus incapable of flight, bed bugs are able to travel as far as 20 feet from their hiding place to you while you’re sleeping—that’s about three times the length of our bed! But how can you tell if there are bed bugs in your bed or home?
- Itchy bite marks that appear as small, red or pinkish welts often forming in a line or cluster, or bleeding at a central spot on your skin with no apparent reason after you wake up
- A strong, unpleasant & occasionally musty, sickly sweet odour
- Little patches of blood staining your pillows, bed sheets or near the corners of your bed
- Black faecal marks on pillows, bedsheets, mattresses, bed frames or walls
- Bed Bug eggshells, or moulted skin/shell in areas of your home
Contrary to popular belief, infestations are rarely due to a lack of hygiene. Rather, bed bugs usually come from external sources, and transfer to new places via latching onto personal items of the host. Therefore, some of the best ways to prevent bed bug infestation are to:
- Be cautious when purchasing second-hand furniture: Even if the item is a steal, and looks ‘gently used’, it may actually harbour bed bugs or their eggs within it. That’s why you should definitely inspect the used furniture thoroughly before buying it.
- Wash all your clothes & belongings with hot water after coming back from a holiday: This will kill any potential bed bugs that have somehow latched onto your things while overseas.
- Monitor your pet: Bed bugs are able to hitchhike into your home via your pet’s fur and bed. Make sure to carry out regular cleaning of its bed with water on high heat.
If it’s too late for you and you’ve already begun spotting signs of bed bug infestation mentioned earlier, you might want to rethink DIY-ing your pest control. After all, off the shelf chemicals and pest control sprays that you can easily purchase generally have mild toxicity which is only effective to a certain extent. Moreover, even when it is effective, given that bed bugs can go without blood for over 6 months, once they go into hiding, it would be extremely difficult to fully exterminate them.
While there certainly will be a pest control company in Singapore that provide bed bug pest control services, only a truly professional one will do a thorough inspection to identify the nesting area, and perform insecticide residual spraying in likely areas of your house. Since only pest controllers with a valid license can handle more toxic chemicals to eradicate pests, it would prove to be much more effective than your run-of-the-mill bug spray.