Bed bugs: Is it actually possible to get rid of them?
Is it safe to go back in the bedroom?
OPINION: Think having mice in your house is upsetting? Sick of ants marching along your kitchen windowsill? Caught the odd cockroach crawling up your curtains?
Sorry, I have no sympathy. Bed bugs trump the lot of them. The devil’s own invertebrates, they make those other pests and vermin seem a mere sniffling trifle.
Many people have been asking me if my own bed bug drama is over. The news is both good and bad.
I’m pretty confident they’re gone from my house. This confidence comes mainly from having spent more than $2000 getting heat treatment to get rid of them, bolstered by a small part of desperately-wishful thinking.
* Three huts on Whanganui Journey Great Walk closed due to ‘bed bug attacks’
* A great Great Walk on Stewart Island/Rakiura
* Bed bugs are making me hate life
* Bed bugs: The nightmare that keeps coming back
* Walking with kiwi on Rakiura/Stewart Island
However, I seem to have passed them on.
My friend, who let me stay at her house one night when I was at the height of my infestation, has just had her house treated. I took all precautions when I stayed there, including not taking any bags from my house to hers, but surely it’s too much of a coincidence that she has them now too.
It’s a miracle that she’s still speaking to me.
My friend in Auckland, who has been terrorising me with her experience for months now, says her nightmare has not abated. Her daughter recently slept in her bed and she found tell-tale blood spots from bites the next day.
Other people have been reporting their experiences to me. It’s usually a one-degree-of-separation confession. The woman at the gym says her cousin had them. My Facebook friend says her sister, who owns apartments in Brisbane, couldn’t get rid of them for months.
The guy at the heat treatment company, Strada, said he was booked up, and only had one day free for treatment in the next month.
Are they actually becoming more common?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell. They’re not notifiable, like whooping cough or TB. It’s all anecdote and opinion.
On Stewart Island, they closed the North Arm Hut on the Rakiura Track earlier this month, to dismantle, reline, reseal and treat the hut after what they described as “the toughest bed bugs known to mankind”.
The hut has since re-opened and all reports are clear.
Three huts along the Whanganui Journey Great Walk were closed after a bed bug attack in April.
Professional Pest Control owner-operator Stu Inness tells me he’s dealing with more cases of bed bugs this year than last.
Which is somewhat surprising, considering they used to be associated with overseas travel.
“A few years ago it was almost always people had been overseas and picked them up overseas,” he says. “But (within New Zealand) people are moving around a lot more now. I think it’ll only get worse.”
He says his company “pulls the room apart” when they spray for bed bugs, including dismantling the bed.
“We haven’t had one beat us yet. That’s more good luck than good management. It doesn’t take very long for them to become resistant.”
I think the ones in Nelson are resistant.
Steve Bank, from Strada Refresh and Restore, is onsite heat-treating two bedrooms at my friend’s house. He says the process of heating the room to 65 degrees Celsius and holding it there for several hours – “absolutely blitzes them”.
“I’m totally, totally confident,” he says.
After weeks of this torment, I’m finally sleeping better at night again. I’ve taken on Steve’s confidence, and I hope my friend will too. The alternative is too horrible to bear.
Signs you have bed bugs
- Dark/black stains – on the mattress and surrounding area from bed bug excreta.
- Sweet scent – an unpleasant, sweet, sickly scent.
- Small dark spots – small dark blood spots on bedding known as ‘faecal pellets’.
- Live insects – despite being small (adult are only 4-5mm long) it’s possible to spot live bed bugs and shed skins.
- Blood spots – on the sheets or mattress.