A once common pest of slum dwellings, now reduced by improved standards of hygiene. Still occur with regularity, particularly in multi-occupancy buildings with rapid resident turnover, for example, hostels, holiday camps and blocks of flats.

The adult bug resembles a small brown disc, about 3.5mm long – the size of a match head. It is wingless but the legs are well developed and it can crawl up most vertical surfaces, e.g. bed legs. The elongated eggs are cemented in cracks or crevices close to the hosts (which for bed-bugs are humans).

The young resemble the adult and grow by moulting. Each nymphal stage needs one full meal of blood before it proceeds to the next stage. Fully-grown bed bugs can endure starvation for up to a year in some cases.

Infested rooms may have bugs under wallpaper or in crevices in the furniture and joinery. They generally emerge to feed at night and their bite can cause severe local irritation. They also produce a characteristic unpleasant smell.

REMEDY: Treatment is less drastic than that recommended in 1680… “take gun powder, lay it about the crevices in the bedstead, light it and keep the smoke in.”

Today insecticidal surface and space sprays, or heat treatment of premises, clothing and bedding will be necessary; but this is a job for a reputable pest control contractor.