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Bedbugs: what they are and why they are dangerous

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What are bedbugs?

The scientific name for bedbugs is Cimex lectularius. These nocturnal parasitic insects belong to the order Hemiptera. Their length is approximately 5-7 millimetres, and they are reddish-brown in colour with a flattened shape that allows them to hide easily in small spaces.

Bedbugs are known to feed on human blood and other warm-blooded animals while they sleep. Therefore, they are usually active during the night hours. Following the ingestion of blood, bedbugs seek refuge in crevices within rooms, including cracks in walls, furniture, floor joints, and even within mattresses and bedding.

While bedbugs are not exclusively associated with domestic environments, they can be found in a multitude of locations, including hotels, flats, hostels, dormitories, public transportation, and even clothing stores. Their capacity to conceal themselves and their resilience to insecticides render them particularly challenging to eradicate once established in an environment.

The life cycle of bedbugs: from eggs to adults

The life cycle of the bedbug comprises several stages, beginning with the laying of eggs by adult females. These females may lay up to 500 eggs during their lifetime, with each egg being translucent white in colour. The eggs are often deposited in hidden, protected places.

After approximately one to two weeks, the eggs hatch, and the nymphs or larvae, the immature form of bedbugs, emerge. The nymphs are small and usually translucent or whitish in colour, similar to miniature adults. During this stage, the nymphs feed on human or animal blood to grow and develop.

Nymphs undergo a series of developmental stages, or moults, during which they undergo growth and change. Following each moult, they become increasingly similar to adults. These developmental stages can last from several weeks to several months, depending on environmental conditions and food availability.Once development is complete, the nymphs transform into adults, who are then able to reproduce and continue the life cycle by laying new eggs. The continuous nature of the life cycle, coupled with the ability of bedbugs to survive for extended periods without food, renders control and eradication of an infestation challenging once it has occurred.

life cycle of a bed bug

Damage caused by bedbugs

Although bedbugs do not transmit diseases, their bites can cause discomfort, itching and, in some cases, allergic reactions. Moreover, bed bug infestation can have serious emotional and economic consequences for those affected.

Let us consider the physical damage caused by bedbug bites. These can cause intense itching on human skin. This itching can be particularly annoying during the night, disturbing sleep and leading to sleep disturbances, consequently lowering the quality of life.

In addition to the physical discomfort caused by bedbug bites, allergic reactions may also occur in some individuals. These reactions can manifest as swelling, redness, and even blisters on the skin. Furthermore, excessive scratching can increase the risk of secondary skin infections, making the situation more unpleasant and potentially dangerous.

However, the impact of bedbugs extends beyond mere physical effects. Infestation with bedbugs can also give rise to significant anxiety and stress in those affected. The fear of being bitten during the night can lead to insomnia, constant hypervigilance and even mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

In addition to the direct effects on people, bedbugs can also cause considerable economic damage. Bedbug infestations can necessitate costly pest control and replacement of infested furniture and bedding. Furthermore, the negative impact on the image of hotels, holiday homes and other accommodation facilities can result in significant financial losses for owners and operators.

In summary, even if bedbugs do not transmit diseases, the physical, emotional and economic damage they can cause render them a significant and pressing issue that requires attention.

punture cimice dei letti

How to recognise a bedbug infestation

Bedbugs are masters at hiding, but there are telltale signs that can indicate their presence in an environment. 

Adult bedbugs can also be visible to the naked eye, although they are adept at concealing their presence. It is important to look carefully in furniture joints, along the edges of mattresses, behind pictures on the wall or in bed crevices. Bedbugs can also be found in the form of eggs, which are white and very small, often attached to fabrics or surfaces.

Another potential indicator is the presence of small blood stains on the sheets, pillows, or surrounding fabrics, which are likely to have been left by bedbugs at mealtimes. Another clue that bedbugs can be identified is their dark or black faeces, which often resemble spots or stains on infested surfaces. These faeces can be found near the bedbugs’ resting places, such as furniture joints or around the bed. Finally, it is notable that bedbug infestations are associated with an unpleasant odour, which may be more noticeable in severely infested rooms and can be detected especially in closed rooms. 

The recognition of these signs at an early stage can assist in the detection of a bedbug infestation before it spreads further, thereby allowing control and prevention measures to be taken more effectively.

How to prevent a bedbug infestation

It is of the utmost importance to prevent a bedbug infestation in order to maintain a healthy and comfortable home environment. Fortunately, there are a number of good habits that can be adopted in order to reduce the risk of invasion.

It is essential to carry out regular inspections of your home in order to detect early signs of bedbugs in mattresses or the presence of insects in the bed. It is recommended that thorough hygiene be maintained in the home environment to reduce the risk of bedbugs and fleas. This can be achieved by regularly washing sheets, blankets and other fabrics at high temperatures, which will eliminate any bedbugs and eggs present. Similarly, a thorough and careful carpet cleaning will also help to reduce the risk of infestation. In addition, keeping living spaces clean and tidy can reduce potential hiding places for bedbugs.

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It is also important to be aware that bedbugs can be transported from one place to another through luggage and personal belongings when travelling. It is strongly advised that individuals carefully inspect their accommodation, such as hotels or hostels, for signs of bedbugs. It is also recommended that luggage be kept off the floor and stored in sealed bags while staying in suspicious places.

Another beneficial practice is the use of protective covers for mattresses and pillows, which can help to prevent the infestation of bed bugs by protecting these crucial nesting sites. It is essential that protective covers are of high quality and completely sealed in order to prevent the entry of bed bugs.

STI Steam Industry: the ultimate solution against bedbugs

The advent of new technologies has led to the development of innovative solutions for the effective and safe control of bedbugs. Among these solutions, STI Steam Industry steam cleaners have emerged as reliable allies in the fight against these annoying pests.

How do STI Steam Industry steam cleaners work against bed bugs and pests?

The STI Steam Industry steam cleaners, particularly the recently launched BugsBuster model, utilise advanced technology that harnesses the power of dry saturated steam at high temperatures to eradicate bed bugs and other pests. The steam is generated and distributed through a special nozzle, reaching temperatures that are lethal for bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle, including the eggs. Furthermore, steam cleaners have the distinct advantage of not requiring the use of harmful chemicals, thereby making them an environmentally friendly and safe choice for the home environment and the health of people and pets. 

In addition to bedbugs, STI Steam Industry professional steam generators can be used to control various types of insects, such as dust mites, fleas and ticks, offering a comprehensive pest control solution.

Choose the right STI Steam Industry steam cleaner for your needs

STI Steam Industry offers a variety of steam cleaner models to suit different needs and room sizes, from home sanitising to hotel sanitising to hospital sanitising. By choosing a steam cleaner from STI Steam Industry, you can rest assured that you have a powerful and effective tool to combat bedbug infestation and keep your premises clean and safe. Contact us now for a quote or more information!

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