An entomologist with the University of Manitoba is encouraging the public to be cautious when buying used furniture to avoid having their homes become infested with bed bugs.
The bed bug is a relatively flat, reddish-coloured, wingless, biting insect that feeds on blood at all stages of development and it tends to hide in cracks and crevices or other small spaces during the day, emerging in the darkness to feed.
Dr. Terry Galloway, an entomologist with the University of Manitoba’s faculty of agricultural and food sciences, says bed bugs are not considered to be important in transmitting pathogenic organisms but they are difficult to get rid of once an infestation occurs.
Galloway says that a lot of the recent infestations are occurring when people have purchased used bedroom furniture, even sometimes used couches or some place where people have had a previous infestation.
If you’re going to bring in any kind of used furniture you have to be very careful to make sure that it’s bed bug free, especially now since the prevalence has increased so much.
It is also possible that if you’re travelling and you stay in a hostel or a hotel or other accommodation, they have bed bug infestations too.
If you stay there and you have a suitcase or a backpack for example, these bed bugs like to go into dark cracks and crevices.
They’ll go into a suitcase just as easily as they would into a crack in the floorboards so it is possible that you can have them creep into your suitcase and then you bring your suitcase home, open it all up, throw it into the closet in your bedroom and you end up with bed bugs coming out of that.
So you do have to be aware of the threat of picking these things up wherever you go.
Galloway says when he joined the University of Manitoba several years ago he received two or three calls in a year with questions about bed bugs but now it’s not unusual to get that many in a week.