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     Bedbug symptoms & identification:

To be 100% effective in the control of bed bugs, an in-depth understanding of their biological make up and life cycle are essential. Only through understanding a bed bug’s biology and behaviour are you able to correctly make a positive identification, understand the location of an infestation and subsequently devise an effective control strategy. Below we have explained in depth the various bed bug symptoms and how a professional is able to identify a bed bug infestation.
    Life Cycle:

Bed bugs are insects and accordingly have the classic 6 legged arrangement. They are from the order of species called Hemiptera, which is often called the “true bugs” and includes such insects as the aphid. The defining feature of hemipterans is their possession of mouthparts where the mandibles and maxillae are sheathed within a modified labium to form a "beak" or "rostrum". This protruding mouthpart is called the “proboscis” and is capable of piercing tissues (usually plant tissues but in this case skin tissues) then sucking out the liquids (typically sap but in this case blood). Zoologically they belong to the family Cimicidae and as with all members of the Cimicidea family, they feed exclusively on blood. In the case of the bed bug, it requires a meal from a vertebrae host to allow development between life stages (called “instars”) and to reproduce.
Development time from conception to full adult is highly influenced by temperature and passes through 6 distinct stages of life to get from egg to adult. Key information gleamed from studying the lifecycle of these organisms has lead to various options in methodologies that are available for controlling infestations of bed bugs both with and without chemicals. Firstly is the fact that below 13°C all development stops, females stop laying eggs and any laid eggs do not hatch. Then, at the other end of the temperature spectrum, above 36°C we see a reduction is reproductive activity and an increase in the death rate. Interestingly with prolonged exposure above 36°C we see a 100% mortality rate for both eggs and bed bugs at all stages of life (this is also true with pro-longed exposure to extreme cold). The cause of this phenomenon is due to a process called “denaturisation” of proteins. Bed bugs contain symbiotic bacteria that are essential for the production of micronutrients (that are needed to keep the bedbugs alive), by damaging these symbiotic bacteria using heat to deform their protein structures, we are able to control and kill bed bugs without the use of chemicals. In between these two temperature extremes we have the optimum temperature of 25°C that will give the fastest possible hatching time of 4 days and a lifecycle of 36 days. At this temperature, a lone female can lay up to 25 eggs a weeks and up to 500 eggs can be laid in one lifetime. From this, it is easy to see why our modern indoor environment lends itself so well to the infestation and spread of bed bugs.
All our technicians are experienced and fully trained pest control technicians who are able to identify a bed bug and have the confidence to train others (e.g. hotel staff) in the identification of bed bugs and the signs associated with an infestation of bedbugs.
Technically, only the presence of actual living bed bugs is absolute 100% proof that an active infestation is present. But luckily, due to the fact that bed bugs do not have a larval stage (i.e. they grow from a small fully formed bed bug into a larger version with exactly the same body structure and features) they look exactly the same at each stage of life. This makes it easier than some other pests for a novice to identify before a qualified technician is able to attend a property for absolute verification and to deal with the problem.
    Bed bug eggs:

Bed bug eggs are very small and measure less than 2mm in length, they are distinguishable from other household insect’s eggs by simply using a magnifying glass to inspect them. Each egg is pearlescent in colour and has an “end cap” that abruptly interrupts the overall smooth curved form of the egg’s outer shell. During the later stages of development, you can clearly see a distinctive “red eye spot” of the developing embryo through the shell of the egg. Once hatched, the eggs are recognisable by their absence of an end-cap and their translucent hollow shell containing no red eye spot.
    Bed bug cast skins:

With each meal of blood that the bed bug feeds upon, it prepares itself for a “moulting stage” that will grow the bedbug to its next stage in life. And a cast skin is produced as a by-product. As with the body structure of a live (or even dead) bed bug can give us a positive identification of this species, so can the cast skins produced at each stage of its life. The cast skins are shed at each stage of moulting and give us an almost perfect cast of the bed bug showing the entire body structure in perfect detail. However, a word of caution regarding the use of cast skin to identify an infestation of bed bugs, you can 100% identify that a cast skin is that of a bed bug BUT this is not in itself proof of a current ongoing infestation. You will be unable to differentiate between a past or presently active infestation using cast skin alone.
    Bed bug faecal spots:

Often one of the first indicators of an infestation of bed bugs, faecal spotting is an obvious sign to look out for. This is quite simply a stain caused by the digestion and passing of food. Due to the fact that bed bugs feed on blood, these secretions of waste have a characteristic black ink-like spot appearance often present on sheets, mattresses and bed frames. These faecal spots can range in colour, shape and size depending on various factors. Firstly, the colour can range from dark black to a lighter brown colour depending upon the proportion of digested blood to uric acid. Secondly, the shape and size of these spots is very much dependent on the surface they are excreted upon. You will notice that faecal matter secreted on more absorbent surfaces such a bed sheet will be wicked into the fibres of the sheet and cause a more spread out and flat appearance similar to how you would expect a drop of ink from a fountain pen would be absorbed into a sheet creating a slightly spread out but flat stain on a sheet. Faecal matter deposited on a non-porous material such as a varnished wood bed frame or metal bed frame will have the appearance of a noticeable dark raised lump, usually circular or oval in shape if they have been allowed to dry with no smudging. In between these two extremes of absorbency, perhaps one of the most common faecal effects is that of an unvarnished wood (very common in bed frame joints). In these instances, the semi-porous properties of the wood, coupled with the grained property of wood structure, causes these faecal secretions to be almost half wicked along the grain of the wood causing a compact but noticeably smeared flat and very dark stain that runs in the direction of the wood grain.
    Bed bug bites:

Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and require the availability of exposed skin to make their feed. Bed bugs prefer not to climb on their host to feed and this behaviour leads us to explain one of the defining characteristics of bed bug bites, the fact that they are most often found in collections of three bites in close proximity (normally in a neat row). Often these three bites are affectionately referred to in the pest control trade as “breakfast, lunch and dinner” and occur in these distinctive rows as a result of the bed bug moving along the edge of an area of exposed skin to acquire its full feed. Bed bug bites differ from that of the ever popular and often misdiagnosed flea bites not only by their lack of arrangement into neat clusters but also because the very centre of a bed bug bite will tend to display a more lightly coloured appearance than the characteristic deep red appearance of the flea bite. However, constant scratching and agitation of a bed bug bite can cause a red appearance that could cause confusion in a diagnosis. Reactions to bed bug bites differ considerably between different people, it is a very mild allergic reaction to an anticoagulant contained within the saliva of the bed bug that causes the characteristic lumps and bumps we often see. To explain this, firstly we have to understand how the bed bug feeds. By piercing the skin of a human, the bed bug has access to blood, but then it needs a good flow to blood to get a full feed. Because of the highly viscous properties of blood and the clotting mechanism, an anticoagulant is required to thin the blood and stifle the clotting mechanism allowing a good, uninterrupted flow of blood into the bed bug. The anticoagulant is secreted by what is essentially the equivalent of the bed bugs saliva and this creates the perfect flow required for feeding efficiently. Rather like mosquito bites, humans have different allergic reactions to this saliva and this can range from no reaction at all to strong blistering reactions. Even cases of anaphylactic-like shock have been reported but fortunately this is extremely rare and 90% of the time you will just see a small raised bump similar to that of a standard mosquito bite. Bites tend to appear visually within 12 hours of being bitten but experiments have proven that on extremely rare occasions, bites can take up to two weeks to appear, and it has been noted that this is most prevalent when being bitten for the very first time. Any delay in the visual manifestation of a bite can cause issues with establishing exactly where and when the bites occurred and accordingly this can delay treatment or cause potential errors in the diagnosis of an infestation. Bed bugs usually feed at night but can adapt if required to do so. In instances where a host is only accessible during daylight hours, bed bugs will adapt and start feeding during the day. This is especially the case when chairs and sofas become infested and this trend continues into scenarios such as public transport.
    Blood droplets and smears:

Another common indicator of the presence of bed bugs is the appearance of “blood smears” on sheets. You may notice dark reddish brown (almost burgundy) tear drop shaped smears on a sheet, these are indicators of bed bug activity. The cause of these sports is down to over feeding and subsequent slight regurgitation of host blood in a pre-digested form. Essentially it is just a drop of blood that has been smeared on a sheet, and as such has exactly the appearance you would expect from a drop of blood on a sheet, the blood will turn from a bright red to a darker reddish brown colour over a very short period of time as it oxidises and coagulates. The shape of the drop will flatten and spread as it is wicked into the fibres of the fabric, and as the bed bug moves it will give the drop a significant spread into one particular direction, causing a characteristic elongated tear drop shape.


Booking your appointment:

Eradicate your bed bug problem today by using one of our fully trained and experienced bed bug technicians. Simply call us now and speak to a member of our bookings team on our 24 hour booking line: 0207 112 8366 or just send us an email at bookings@bedbugdoctor.co.uk. All our technicians have unmarked vans and unbranded uniforms so you can be assured of a very discreet service.

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As speed is of the essence when dealing with bed bugs, we aim to start your treatment as soon as possible (depending upon existing bookings). We have teams of professionals ready to deploy within the London and M25 area, all fully trained and experienced.


















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Bed Bug Doctor Ltd specialise in the extermination, detection and preventative treatment of bed bugs for hotels, youth hostels, shops and care homes. To get a quote and arrange an on-site visit, please contact us on 0207 112 8366 or just send us an email at bookings@bedbugdoctor.co.uk

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Bed Bug Doctor Ltd.
180-186 Kings Cross Rd,

0207 112 8366

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