According To The Experts, Keeping Dirty Laundry In The Bedroom Allows Bed Bugs To Thrive
Keeping dirty laundry in the bedroom allows bed bugs to thrive because they are attracted to soiled clothing, a new study has shown.
Numbers of the nocturnal blood-sucking insects have soared in recent years, largely because of the boom in low cost international travel which has allowed them to spread between countries.
The parasites are a headache for hotel owners because infestations are difficult to spot until the bugs start biting.
However a new study by the University of Sheffield has shown that the insects are drawn to dirty laundry, which could be there method of ‘hitchhiking’ between countries.
Dr William Hentley, of the university’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, advised against leaving clothes exposed in sleeping areas.
“Bed bugs are a huge problem for hotel and homeowners, particularly in some of the world’s biggest and busiest cities,” he said.
“Once a room is infested with bed bugs, they can be very difficult to get rid of, which can result in people having to dispose of clothes and furniture that can be really costly.
“Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations.”
In the study published in the Scientific Reports experiments were carried out in two identical, temperature-controlled rooms in which four tote bags were placed in the presence of bed bugs.
Two contained soiled clothes and the others clean. In each test, one room received an increase in concentration of CO² to simulate human breathing.
In the absence of a human host, bed bugs were twice as likely to aggregate on bags containing soiled clothes compared to those with the clean ones.
The findings suggest that the bugs are drawn to the residual body odour in dirty laundry, so worn clothes left in an open suitcase, or on the floor of an infested room may attract them.
“It is the first time human odour has been considered as a potential mechanism facilitating long distance dispersal in bedbugs,” added Dr Henley.
“Bed bugs struggle to walk up smooth surfaces, so when I go travelling I always look for those smooth metal luggage racks to keep my suitcase on. Failing that, I would keep my clothes in a big ziplock bag.”
The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) went into decline in the 1980s and 90s, but has recently undergone an aggressive resurgence, with cases more than doubling in the UK during the past few years.
Before feeding they are a flattened oval shape, light brown and around 5mm long, but after a blood meal, they swell up to become rounder and darker.
They can survive for six months without feeding and although they are not dangerous, they can cause extreme discomfort and stress to those who are bitten by them.
Usually small, red bites on the skin is the first indication of a bed bug problem in the house and they can quickly spread between rooms.
Although bed bugs cannot jump or fly, they can crawl long distances, so can quickly spread throughout a building.
Further signs of the bugs are white eggs in mattress crevices, or tiny black spots which could be excrement.
Blood spots appearing on the sheets, as you squash the bugs in your sleep, and an unpleasant, musty scent in your bedroom are also tell-tale signs.
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