Expert discloses how to protect your home from a bed bug infestation

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows bed bugs are resilient. Although they typically feed every 10 days, they can survive a year without attacking a host.

If you’re on the lookout for cheap bargains, and your usual haunt is charity shops, you’ll need to be sharp at spotting signs of bed bugs.

When buying second-hand furniture, you’ll need to look along the seams for any dark spots, which could be bed bug faeces.

Also be wary of eggs and eggshells – they’re tiny, sizing up to 1mm – and keep your eyes peeled for pale, yellow skins.

Baby bed bugs, known as nymphs, shed their pale, yellow skin as they grow larger.

Thinking about buying a chest of drawers? It’s best to check out the drawer joints for any bed bugs – even in the head of a screw.

What do bed bugs look like?

Up to 7mm in size (like an apple seed), they can be long and brown, with a flat, oval-shaped body.

However, if they’ve recently drawn some blood from a host (animal or human), they will balloon into a reddish-brown exterior.

As nymphs, they are smaller, translucent or whitish-yellow in colour, and can be nearly invisible to the naked eye.

Simply taking home unchecked furniture could result in a very bad infestation – how so?

Well, the bed bug has six life stages, with each stage requiring a blood feed (although they can bite more), and the moulting of skin.

Each female bed bug can lay up to three eggs per day, averaging up to 500 eggs per year.

The “egg-to-egg life cycle” may take as little as four weeks, so the numbers in your home could easily add up.

To prevent bed bugs from ruining your mattress if they ever found a way into your home, use a protective cover.

This helps to eliminate many hiding spots, as well as highlighting the bugs if they crawl across the bed.

Make sure you routinely check the mattress cover for any holes, which will mean it needs replacing.

It’ll also help to regularly vacuum around the house in case you’ve picked some up while going out for a walk.

Bed bugs die when their body temperature reaches 45°C, so a hot wash and tumble dry can eradicate them from clothes.

If you’re staying elsewhere, or even in your own home, search for rusty stains on the bedsheets – this could be where bed bugs have been crushed.

In large amounts, bed bugs release a musty odour – and professional help will be needed.

In most cases, a bed bug infestation will require professional guidance, as they can be notoriously difficult to get rid of.

Bed bug bites can easily be overlooked, as some people don’t react to their bites at all.

And for those who do, it may appear to look like a rash or a mosquito bite.

If you suspect your home has been invaded by bed bugs, you’re advised to contact your local pest control service.

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