Expert issues warning to summer travellers, as bed bug populations increase in warmer weather

She originally mistook it for a bit of sand in bed, but this woman’s well-deserved seaside vacation has turned into any traveler’s worst nightmare.

Victorian travelers Justine Martin and Anna McLean were on a much-needed post-lockdown vacation when they faced any vacationer’s worst nightmare.

During a long weekend trip to the Gold Coast in April 2021, Ms. Martin wanted to go to sleep in the resort bed when she felt “crawling”.

She discarded it at first, but it wasn’t until she reached for something that “rolled up” her neck that she noticed that the mattress was infested with bed bugs.

“You’re on the coast and when you hop into bed it felt gritty and I thought it was just sand, but these are actually bed bugs. You don’t notice that they’re leaving a trace, ”said Ms. Martin in an interview with

The resilience advisor and speaker referred to the fecal particles that the pests had left and that were all over her bed.

While she managed to pinch the bed bug by her neck and place it in a wine glass, Ms. Martin said they found more parasites when they exposed the mattress of the bed.

“Those are terrible little things, and they were all different sizes, too. They lived there for a very, very long time, ”she said.

While Ms. Martin and Ms. McLean were moved to another room, the mattresses in the second room also contained bed bugs, which prompted them to move to another hotel. Throughout the ordeal, Ms. Martin estimates she saw “a couple of dozen” bed bugs and had a half-dozen bites left, which she described as a “really bad mozzie bite.”

Given the “surreal” memory, Ms. Martin said she was lucky that they did not unpack their luggage even though they were forced to check-in at a different and more expensive hotel.

“It was disgusting. I can’t tell you how dirty we felt. We were crammed, it literally ruined our vacation and we hadn’t slept all night,” she said.

“We only wanted to leave for a weekend.”

Some sources state that bed bug populations have increased by 5000 percent since 2000, and the parasites are feared for good reason. They leave itchy, bulging bites on exposed skin, often in groups or in a line.

They can also be difficult to spot. While the adult is roughly the size of an apple stone, the beetles themselves are transparent until they start feeding. After ingesting blood, their bodies swell and turn a reddish brown color.

In general, the first signs of bed bug infestation are tiny blood stains on your bedding from bites, signs of bed bug droppings that look like dark, rust-colored stains, and secluded bed bug skins in exposed pockets on your mattress or bed. Affected people may also notice a musty smell excreted by the beetle.

Solace Sleep director and founder Darren Nelson says bed bug infestations are most common in December, January and February, largely due to the warmer weather and increased travel that helps them spread from vacation homes and campsites back to the bedroom .

The extra moisture from La Nina can also allow bed bugs to survive longer between blood feedings.

Contrary to their name, however, they can live in home furnishings and brick walls, Nelson says.

“The best way to control bed bugs is to keep bedclothes and bedding clean, as bed bugs are twice as likely to be found in dirty bedding and clothing than clean ones,” he says.

“Most people wash their sheets every week or two – but forget about their pillows and Doona, and months, if not years, pass between washes.

“Pillows and doonas can be run through the washing machine on a gentle cycle, soaked in detergent and blasted hot in the dryer.”

Dirty dust can also lead to dust mites, which can cause asthma or allergy sufferers to wheeze, sneeze, runny nose, itchy nose and nasal congestion. While the mites are invisible to the naked eye, they are often found in the crevices of pillows and doonas.

How to avoid a bed bug infestation:

1. Know how often to wash: While a spin in the washing machine every one to two weeks is sufficient, Nelson recommends that allergy sufferers or sensitive skin consider washing more frequently.

2. Separately for clothes, bed linen and towels: This will help avoid contamination. You should also use hot water and tumble your bedding at a high temperature if you suspect dust mites.

3. Don’t forget your other bed linen: “Wash sheets separately from clothes and towel, clean stains and stains before washing,” says Nelson. “Use hot water and a hot dryer if mites are present.”

4th Know when to replace: To ensure your bedding stays fresh, Mr. Nelson recommends cleaning your pillows and doonas every six months and replacing them every two years.


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