Parasites: fighting bed bugs: when is it time for the exterminator?

Bed bugs are not a sign of a lack of hygiene, but are usually involuntary souvenirs from vacation.

Parasites: fighting bed bugs: when is it time for the exterminator?

Bed bugs are not a sign of a lack of hygiene, but are usually involuntary souvenirs from vacation. The parasites hide in luggage and are thus introduced worldwide - especially in Australia and the USA. "But in many other countries around the world, including Germany, there are complaints about the increasing occurrence of these insects," the Federal Environment Agency points out. Because even if the blood-sucking animals have not posed any health risks to date, at least there is no evidence of this to date, their widespread spread is viewed critically. The question arises: How can bed bugs be combated and what are the indications of an infestation?

The bed bug is a parasite that is only a few millimeters long. It has a flat, reddish-brown body, two antennae, and six legs. The female is slightly larger than the male and can lay up to 150 eggs. The animals are nocturnal and hide in small cracks, dark corners and tiny slits during the day - preferably near the bed to quench their blood thirst at night. The bite marks of the insects are similar to those of mosquitoes and are not clear evidence of an infestation. Especially since skin reactions to bed bug bites vary. "They often manifest themselves in the form of itchy and reddened pustules, the diameter of which can be a few millimeters to a few centimetres. Blisters and wheals can also occur. Other people do not react to the bites at all, but this changes over the course of an infestation, i.e. at repeated stab exposure," explains the Federal Environment Agency.

Since bite marks and stings are not yet a sure indication of an infestation, you should start looking for clues: If you find small black dots in the bed (on the mattress, bed sheets, blankets or pillows), they could be traces of bed bug faeces. If you discover dead or living animals, their shells or you smell a sweet smell, the infestation is already more advanced. It is all the more difficult to detect the parasite as long as it has not yet multiplied significantly - and the stinging nuisance only sets in after several weeks, when more and more animals are tampering with your blood. In this case, you can see small "bug streets" on your body, a series of small stitches arranged in a row. If the infestation is only mild, you can take the first measures. If the parasites have already multiplied a lot, a professional pest controller should be called in.

According to the Federal Environment Agency, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fight the parasites on your own - and there is a reason for this: "The development of resistance to chemical insecticides is seen as the main reason for the worldwide increase in bed bug infestations". Commercially available sprays lose their effectiveness or can only make a small contribution to combating the infestation. However, since it can take several days or weeks before you get an appointment with the exterminator, the means for the first fight can definitely be used. As a first measure, it is also advisable to remove all cracks and crevices as well as textiles in the bedroom with the vacuum cleaner. The bag should not be thrown away afterwards, but left in the freezer for several days: bed bugs cannot survive extremely cold temperatures.

And another tip from the Federal Environment Agency: "Before the control measure, a professional pest controller carries out an on-site inspection and makes a clear diagnosis to be classified as dubious."

As mentioned at the beginning, most bed bugs are brought in from vacations. It is all the more important that you take preventive measures when you unpack your suitcases at home: It is best to use your shower or bathtub to check fresh and worn clothing for traces of the parasites. The white ceramic helps you discover the animals and their legacies more quickly. It is best to shake out all textiles vigorously once. And then wash your things at 60 degrees if possible, as bed bugs cannot survive such high temperatures.

Source: Federal Environment Agency, Ökotest

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