Bed Bugs

Reporter : Mark Gibson

Terry says "Someone wakes up in the middle of the night and they've got a bug sitting on their face sucking their blood."

They're tiny, blood sucking insects and they're back, wreaking havoc in homes across Perth.

"If you look at the mattress, just at a glance, there doesn't seem to be too much wrong with it, not too many signs, but it's when you actually up-end it and start looking around the edges and the folds that we start to see areas like this, now this is the spotting or the faeces of a bed bug." This bed, in a city hostel, is riddled with them.

If you're eating dinner, turn away for a few seconds. Terry says "the best way to discover if you have a bed bug is to simply crush it and the huge amount of blood that comes out..It's quite horrific but they are basically just little sacs of your blood."

Bed bug expert Terry Glasson's been called in to exterminate them. Terry blasts the mattress with heat.. killing the bugs and their eggs. Then, he gets to work on the bed's frame.

"You have to annihilate every single bug, you don't do half measures, if you've got bed bugs you need to address it immediately."

"This is the scarring that it left afterwards, because of the enormity of the swelling and the cluster of bites that took place." Jason Lacey came under attack for weeks. "The itchiness is extreme, I could not explain the amount of times that I'd wake up and be walking around the house thinking what am I going to do about this."

Jason didn't know it, but he was being eaten alive by bed bugs."And when they started to welt up, I then started to take more motice and started to realise that there's something more serious going on."

"Mark this is where the activity took place, we had the bed bugs living directly underneath the mattress that was here although it's been replaced and we could also see them within the cracks of the joins or where the joinery of the timberwork was and in particular they were living within the dows and the screw heads."

Jason says "One of the most surprising things that I found was the lack of knowledge in the medical profession because I needed that medical advice to know where I could erradicate this problem."

The Sydney Olympics might've been the best Games ever, but they also signalled the return to Australia of bed bugs.

"With all the tourists came bed bugs and they were basically air-mailed to every corner of Australia." Wiped out during the 1960s, they returned in 2000, eleven years on, they're worse than ever. Terry says "And it's just got bigger and bigger and it is now a situation where it's a plague virtually throughout the world."

In some cities like New York, they've already reached epidemic proportions. "I mean bed bugs on Broadway and if they can make it there they can make it anywhere as the man says." All the way to Perth, where right now they're at their worst - in summer. Terry says "Bed bugs in the warmer weather feed more often, they breed more often, the population explodes with the warmer weather and everything starts to happen."

There are plenty of myths about bed bugs:

They don't live on humans - they only come in contact for a feed of our blood.

They can lie dormant for months, coming out every 5 to 7 days to feed.

They don't come out by day, only between midnight and 4am.

And they don't disciminate - they're found in the cleanest of homes, even 5 star hotels.

Terry says "There's this image that it's unhygeinic and that's what causes them, it's nothing to do with that, as long as they've got a host they're happy to stay and feed."

Jason thinks his bugs came home with him from a trip to Melbourne last year. "If you're staying in a hotel or accommodation, shared accommodation in particular, you need to look for those signs when you go there, pull the bed out, have a bit of a look for signs of spotting which will be obvious in a large infestation." Terry says.

In the past we've seen them ravage children, infest an entire house. Terry Glasson says if you have bed bugs, there are plenty of things to avoid.

Don't use insect spray - that could send the bugs scurrying throughout the house

Don't move your sheets into the laundry.. chances are the bugs will travel with them.

And don't take your mattress outside, for the same reason.

Terry says "The bugs aren't going to stay there, they don't like being outside and they don't like missing out on their meal so they're going to start to move and that means they're going to move either back into your house or one of your neighbour's houses."

But there's one thing you should do. "If you suspect or you see you have bed bugs shut the room down, just quarantine it and get professional help. Bed bugs have the potential to be the biggest health and welfare issue of the coming decades."

Contact Details

Terry Glasson

Bed bug expert

0406 882 676