Bed bugs: Is it actually possible to get rid of them? –

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Is it safe to go back in the bedroom?

OPINION: Think having mice in your house is upsetting? Sick of ants marching along your kitchen windowsill? Caught the odd cockroach crawling up your curtains?

Sorry, I have no sympathy. Bed bugs trump the lot of them. The devils own invertebrates, they make those other pests and vermin seem a mere sniffling trifle.

Many people have been asking me if my own bed bug drama is over. The news is both good and bad.


Two species of bed bugs, Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, frequently feed on humans.

Im pretty confident theyre gone from my house. This confidence comes mainly from having spent more than $2000 getting heat treatment to get rid of them, bolstered by a small part of desperately-wishful thinking.

READ MORE:* Three huts on Whanganui Journey Great Walk closed due to 'bed bug attacks'* A great Great Walk on Stewart Island/Rakiura * Bed bugs are making me hate life * Bed bugs: The nightmare that keeps coming back* Walking with kiwi on Rakiura/Stewart Island

However, I seem to have passed them on.

My friend, who let me stay at her house one night when I was at the height of my infestation, has just had her house treated. I took all precautions when I stayed there, including not taking any bags from my house to hers, but surely its too much of a coincidence that she has them now too.

Its a miracle that shes still speaking to me.


Post-heat treatment, the room looks like it might be somewhere pleasant to sleep.

My friend in Auckland, who has been terrorising me with her experience for months now, says her nightmare has not abated. Her daughter recently slept in her bed and she found tell-tale blood spots from bites the next day.

Other people have been reporting their experiences to me. Its usually a one-degree-of-separation confession. The woman at the gym says her cousin had them. My Facebook friend says her sister, who owns apartments in Brisbane, couldn't get rid of them for months.

The guy at the heat treatment company, Strada, said he was booked up, and only had one day free for treatment in the next month.


Bed bug bites often appear in a row, unlike this bigger cluster.

Are they actually becoming more common?

Unfortunately, its hard to tell. Theyre not notifiable, like whooping cough or TB. Its all anecdote and opinion.

On Stewart Island, they closed the North Arm Hut on the Rakiura Track earlier this month, to dismantle, reline, reseal and treat the hut after what they described as the toughest bed bugs known to mankind.

The hut has since re-opened and all reports are clear.

Three huts along the Whanganui Journey Great Walk were closed after a bed bug attack in April.


Far fewer people are travelling overseas, but that doesnt seem to have translated to fewer bed bug outbreaks.

Professional Pest Control owner-operator Stu Inness tells me hes dealing with more cases of bed bugs this year than last.

Which is somewhat surprising, considering they used to be associated with overseas travel.

A few years ago it was almost always people had been overseas and picked them up overseas, he says. But (within New Zealand) people are moving around a lot more now. I think itll only get worse.

He says his company pulls the room apart when they spray for bed bugs, including dismantling the bed.

We havent had one beat us yet. Thats more good luck than good management. It doesnt take very long for them to become resistant.

Joanna Davis/Stuff

Steve Bank, from Strada, hires a generator to power heaters used in bed bug heat treatment.

I think the ones in Nelson are resistant.

Steve Bank, from Strada Refresh and Restore, is onsite heat-treating two bedrooms at my friends house. He says the process of heating the room to 65 degrees Celsius and holding it there for several hours absolutely blitzes them.

Im totally, totally confident, he says.

After weeks of this torment, Im finally sleeping better at night again. Ive taken on Steves confidence, and I hope my friend will too. The alternative is too horrible to bear.

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Bed bugs: Is it actually possible to get rid of them? -

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