“Lie down with dogs and you’ll rise with fleas,” that’s what Mammy likes to say when she spots the grubby mark of a bed bug!
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The invasion of these dreaded critters is a problem that dogs the accommodation industry. Mammy’s warning for managers? Don’t let your establishment become the infected dog! Anyone can suffer a bed bug infestation because they hide in luggage, clothing, bedding, furniture, and they are often found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover. This means that hotels, motels, hostels, shelters and apartment complexes are all frequent victims.
But Mammy has been around a few blocks in her time and has a few tricks up her sleeve for spotting them early and nipping the nippers in the bud. Her first checklist is to look for:
1. Rusty red marks on sheets or mattresses caused by crushed bed bugs.
2. Dark spots that are about this size: •
3. Tiny eggs and eggshells (about one millimetre), also pale-yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
4. Live critters! Mammy shudders at these too but you will see them moving along the seams of your mattress, or notice the shed skins and tiny poos.
5. Bites! Guests waking up with very itchy red welts or a rash is a telltale sign – bed bug bites can be in a line. Don’t always assume that an itchy mark is just a mossie or midge bite; remember that bed bugs do not necessarily bite every night.
6. Detect a stink? An offensively sweet or musty odour from their scent glands can be detected when infestations are severe.
What Mammy does when she finds an infestation (after swearing and saying a few Hail Marys):
2. Use a steamer.
3. Give bedding and clothing a good hot wash
4. Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on the mattress, scrub with a stiff brush and vacuum again.
5. Encase mattresses and pillows.
6. Use tea tree oil insecticide spray.
Even Mammy admits she should call in an expert before an infestation gets out of control – a qualified pest control operator.
As Mammy tries to remember: “All the world’s a stage and most of us are unrehearsed.” Preparedness is a Godsend. Any household can be invaded by bedbugs, but a high standard of hygiene can discourage bedbugs from spreading.
Prevent bed bugs by regularly and carefully vacuuming rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under-beds, the space around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around every room. Remember to change the bag after each use so bed bugs can’t escape!
Please remember: Wily Irish Mammy is a satirical column. Sure, she’ll make you a smile when you read about her ‘homemade remedies’ but she doesn’t replace qualified professional advice.