The treatment and management of bedbugs is a specialist job and requires commitment from both the client and the pest manager. If you think you may have bedbugs, Pestforce will attend your home and provide an obligation-free assessment.

The life of bed bugs demonstrates the amazing way life on earth can adapt and evolve. Bedbugs are parasites of humans and have evolved specifically to feed on human blood, with the earliest examples being found in caves lived in by early man. They do not feed on any other animal in the natural world.

Bedbugs are wingless insects about 5mm to 6mm long, brown in colour and roundish in appearance. They are flat, allowing them to live in cracks and crevasses away from danger. Their presence is often noticed because of small spots of blood on the bed sheets.

Traditionally bedbugs were a pest of cheap housing and “doss houses” where levels of hygiene were low, and were not generally found in clean environments. The bed bugs would live in cracks within a metre of the bed and come out after the occupant was sleeping, to feed on a blood meal.

In the 1950s and 1960s the development of chemical insecticides saw the rapid decline of bedbugs, and through the 1980s and 1990s they were rarely encountered. We all thought that bedbugs were a thing of the past, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

Bedbugs went through fundamental changes, wandering further away from their harbourages in cracks and crevasses to look for new hosts, and they began to infest clean environments. This was natural selection in action, because the bugs that travelled further away from the host were more likely to survive an application of insecticide, as the pest management industry nearly always focused on the bed. The bugs that preferred a cleaner environment were more likely to avoid detection, because no one looked in clean houses for bedbugs and this has led to an explosion in bedbug activity.

Bedbugs should not be called bedbugs any more, because they will now infest many other areas. They have been found in chairs, light fittings, hiding in belt buckles and even feeding on passengers of long-haul flights. The most alarming thing is their ability to infest bags and suitcases, making them much more mobile.

The sexual habits of bed bugs are weird in the extreme. Male bedbugs will mate with any other bedbug, male or female. They have a piercing type penis and simply deposit sperm into any part of the body of the receiver. The sperm will swim to the ovaries of the female though her body and fertilize the eggs. If they are deposited into a male bedbug, they will move to the male reproductive organs and wait for another opportunity. This allows the bedbug amazing genetic diversity, so when a bedbug mates with a female he is not only depositing his own sperm but possibly the sperm of several bedbugs. This could be what allows the bedbug to evolve so quickly in response to changing human behaviour.

Because of the explosion of bedbug activity, The Australian Environmental Pest Managers' Association formed a Bedbug Working Party. Mr Stephen Doggett from the Institute for Clinical Pathology and Medical Research at the Department of Medical Entomology, Westmead Hospital wrote a Code of Practice, which was published in 2006. A testament to the ability of bedbugs to adapt is the fact that since this was written it has needed constant review and updating. The third draft has now been published and can be downloaded from the Department of Entomology's website athttp://medent.usyd.edu.au/bedbug/index.htm.

Different people have different reactions to bedbug bites, with some suffering from itching lesions and loss of sleep, to others having no reaction at all. Sometimes the lesions will not appear for up to nine days after the bite occurs, making the source of the problem difficult to locate.

Bedbugs do not generally carry disease, so although they will cause lesions and itching bites, they will not cause illness. The idea of bedbugs make people cringe because of their previous association with poor hygiene, however this is no longer the case and they are not an indication of the cleanliness of a property.