Introduction to Bed Bugs

If you live in Cape Town and find yourself facing a bed bug infestation be aware there are many ways you can eradicate the infestation. But in order to rid your house of these pesky biting insects you need to understand how they operate. Getting rid of bed bugs can be a complex and tricky exercise.
If you are not up for the task, rather entrust the task to a qualified pest control technician in Cape Town.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) is small blood-sucking parasite. There are many different types of bed bugs around the world. Adult bed bugs we find in Cape Town are 5mm long, reddish-brown to brown in colour becoming purple after feeding. They have well-developed antennae, prominent, simple eyes with the ability to climb rough but not smooth surfaces. The life of a bed bug begins with a small white egg approximately 1mm in length which takes about 10 days to hatch. Once hatched they grow into adults after 6 weeks. Immature nymphs are translucent in colour. Bed bugs belong to the Cimicidae family.  

More about bed bugs

Higher warmer temperatures actually speeds up the life-cycle of bed bugs from feeding to maturing to movement. Bed bugs thrive in warmer days and are in their comfort zone in higher temperatures.  They are attracted to heat and feed on blood. It feeds on warm-blooded mammals (pets) and humans and spread where the blood is readily available. Bed bugs are not known to transfer or carry any harmful diseases to humans.

Bed bug Life-Cycle

  • Males produce 2 to 3 eggs per day often large groups of eggs are present.
  • Eggs are approximately 1 mm in length, white to yellowish white with a mosaic pattern.
  • The female can live up to a year and during this time she can lay hundreds of eggs.
  • Eggs hatch within 6 to 11 days and you not hatch in temperature is below 14 degrees Celsius.
  • Bed bugs are hemimetabolous, which means the nymphs look like the adults.
  • The images cycle last for 5 to 80 weeks and in the absence of a human host will also feed on other mammals like rabbits, mice or poultry.
  • Bed bugs can stay without food for long .s of up to 500 + days. Under favourable environmental conditions.

Where are bed bugs found?  

Unhygienic places are not a preference for bed bugs nor a source of them. In Cape Town we have successfully treated for bed bugs in many affluent areas like Newlands, Constantia, Claremont, Bantry Bay and the Southern Suburbs and Peninsula and it makes no difference if the place is clean or dirty you can still be affected by bed bugs. Messy or untidy homes are not a preference to bed bugs because all they are concerned about is regular feeding and access to their food source. They are excellent at hiding from humans and can spread very quickly.  Your home is a prime hideout for bed bugs because the temperature is regulated and ideal for breeding and life-cycle development. They can hide anywhere in your homes cupboards, cabinets, base of beds, behind baseboards and on bed mattresses.

Bed bugs in Cape Town

  1. Hotels
  2. B&B’s
  3. Dorms
  4. Private homes
  5. Backpackers
  6. School desks and benches
  7. Restaurants
  8. Computers in the library
  9. Hospital beds
  10. Curtains
  11. Store walls

The bed bug has a flat body which makes it easy to hide in tiny thin cracks and crevices near the bed.  They are most active before dawn and usually wait for the host to sleep before they poke their snouts into your flesh and feed on your blood. They are usually red in colour after feeding because of the host’s blood.  They become darker the more they feed on blood.

Watch this interesting YouTube video about bed bugs

More Bed bug Facts

  1. Bed bugs don’t like winter time and go into hibernation.
  2. The hibernation phase is called DIAPAUSE
  3. It is a myth that bed bugs are only found in poor dwellings with low hygiene standards
  4. Many well-off and affluent properties suffer from bed bug infestations too.
  5. Less than 10% of a perceived bed bug infestation is actually true
  6. Long pajamas cannot protect you 100% from biting bed bugs
  7. Bed bugs were once a worldwide public health pest but infestations dropped in the mid 20th century
  8. Recently bed bug reports worldwide have been on the increase because they have built up a resistance to man-made insecticides

How do bed bugs spread?

Bed bugs are fantastic hitch-hikers and excellent travelers. Cape Town is a tourist hot-spot so bed bugs easily travel and move around by clinging onto fabrics and you can easily catch them from places like:

  1. hotel rooms
  2. movie theatre
  3. Airports
  4. Bus terminals
  5. Train stations
  6. Waiting lounges

They can also latch onto air-con units, curtain rods and even inside electronics. However they usually travel on clothes, luggage, coats and anywhere soft they can cling onto and catch a ride. When you are exposed to a bed bug infested area you can easily become the new carrier. Many business trips at airports and hotels results in exposure to bed bugs.

What are bed bug bites?

Bed bug bites usually occur on areas on the body that is exposed during your sleep.  A bed bug bite usually looks like a rash that looks like mosquito bites. The bites are in a zig-zag like pattern and very itchy. Usually there are a few bites along the same area. Unlike mosquito bites the bed bug bites swell up and spreads out quickly. The bites can also burn slightly.

Bites can occur on the following areas:

  1. Neck
  2. Face
  3. Hands
  4. Shoulders
  5. Arms
  6. Legs

What are bed bug bite symptoms?

It is important to note that not all people will experience the same skin reactions to bed bugs. It’s not uncommon for only one person to be affected by bed bugs and not their partner. Many time the bite victim’s partner sleeping in the same bed discredits the findings to be that of bed bugs because they were not bitten.

Bed bug bite symptoms can range from a red spot with a small bulge around the sting areas. The itchy red bites are very similar to mosquito bites. It’s difficult to detect when you are being bitten by a bed bug because they inject an anaesthetic and coagulant which makes it almost impossible to feel you are being bitten.  You will not even know you are being bitten by bed bugs because it’s not painful at all.  Sometimes hours and even days will pass before you are aware of the bites and secondary infection become apparent if the bite area is not cleaned.

If you find malted skins of the young bed bugs (nymphs) you more than likely have a bed bug problem. Another tell-tale sign of bed bugs are rusty-coloured dark spots (bed bug excrement) along the bed mattress seams or wherever they have “nested”. You might also detect the smell of dried blood or what smells like rotten raspberries. If the bug infestation is high you will smell a distinct musty odour.

Other symptoms to look out for in children and elderly with lower immune systems are:

  1. Insomnia
  2. Anxiety
  3. Skin problems/reactions

How to find bed bugs

In order to eradicate bed bugs you need to find them. And in order to find them you need to know where to look.
You will need a torch and a credit card to search and probe in all the cracks, recesses and crevices for bed bugs. You need to determine the severity of the problem as well. Wooden bed with cracks, crevices and headboards should be thoroughly inspected. As the bed bug numbers and population increases, so does their footprint around your house making it easier to detect. Remember bed bugs will always prefer a warmer environment.  They also have an affinity for timber/wood and soft fabrics etc.
Bed bugs may also setup outside the bedroom like on sofas which can be a hot-spot especially if it is slept on regularly.

Bed bugs nesting on the foot of a bed. Bed bug fumigation in Cape Town. Fumigation services in Cape Town for bed bugs
Bed bugs nesting under the base of a bed.

Check the following areas for bed bugs:

  1. The fabric under the base of the bed must be removed and inspected for activity.
  2. Dismantle the bed feet and check inside and surrounding areas
  3. Check all items stored under the bed
  4. Bedside tables and nightstands and draws must be removed and inspected underneath
  5. Upholstered chairs and couches
  6. Cushion seems, tufts, skirts, crevices
  7. Edges of wall-to-wall carpets
  8. Cracks in wood moulding
  9. Ceiling wall junctures
  10. Crevices in Hardwood Parkade floors
  11. Bed mattresses
  12. Bed Base
  13. Curtains
  14. Peeling wallpaper
  15. Cracks in furniture
  16. Clothing piles
  17. Under peeling carpets
  18. Picture frames
  19. Bedside draws
  20. Electrical sockets

If any activity is noticed, capture the bugs with adhesive tape. Clean the areas with a strong detergent from any dead bed bugs, eggs, droppings and shed skins. Pest control technicians will need to spray with a pyrethrum based chemical to flush them out of their harbourage areas.

How to get rid of bed bugs fast

If you suspect you have these unwelcome guests in your home, there is a few things you need to know first. Treating bedbugs is a complex procedure and your likelihood of succeeding is dependent on a few factors.

These factors are:

  1. The extent and level of the infestation
  2. Are there any site-inspection challenges
  3. Clutter
  4. Neighbours with infestations
  5. Is everyone affected willing to co-operate
  6. If you are renting, will your landlord participate
  7. Surrounding units in a complex/apartment needs to be inspected

Before starting you need to have a strategy and plan in place. We need to accurately identify the pest first. Prevent further spreading of the infestation. Do a thorough inspection first to establish the extent. Collect samples if possible. To be successful you need to act immediately and take on an IPM approach where you include inspections, sanitations, and finally fumigation treatments. Bed bugs can be resilient and persistent so you need to be even more aggressive and persistence to ensure success.

Follow these steps:

  1. Try and keep a record of where the bed bugs where found and the level of infestations
  2. Place all affected clothing and bedding in sealable plastic bags and remove from the room
  3. Wash all suspected items for 60mins under the highest heat settings possible
  4. Get rid of the plastic bags and put clean clothes in new bags
  5. Don’t remove clothes until the bug problem is completely eradicated.
  6. Items that cannot be fumigated or washed should be placed in sealed plastic bags and left for a long period of time to allow the bed bugs to die. (approximately 12 months)
  7. If furniture cannot be saved/fumigated it should be dumped responsibly and marked “Bed Bugs”
  8. Ensure the infected furniture is collected or dumped immediately
  9. Don’t get rid of furniture if you can treat it by fumigation.
  10. Don’t dump it on public spaces where somebody else will feel temped to take it in.
  11. Remove all furniture covers
  12. Give the rooms a good vacuum.
  13. Vacuum the mattress and base of the bed if possible
  14. Empty the vacuum afterwards and remove the filter and place it in a sealable bag
  15. Dump the filter in an outside bin.

The above preparation should be done irrespective of whether you doing it yourself or hiring a professional fumigator. Remember, bed bugs can build up a resistance to certain chemicals hence the importance of using professional pyrethroid based chemicals and mixing it up if possible. A variety of products should be used to gain maximum results.

Bed bug mattress treatment process:

  1. To treat the mattresses we need to use an aerosol spray specific for bed bug eradication
  2. Spray the mist directly onto the exposed mattress
  3. Ensure you get into all the mattress seems, tufts and folds and continue until the mattress is damp
  4. Once the mattress is dry you can recover the bed with fresh laundry that has been dried on high heat.
  5. Once the mattress has been treated we strongly recommend you cover with a bed bug proof cover.
  6. This will prevent further infestations and make it easier to re-inspect.
  7. Once covered it’s not necessary to re-treat the base or mattress again.
  8. IF you decide not to cover the mattress and base with a bed bug proof cover you will need a follow-up treatment within 7-10 days.
  9. You will need to continue monitoring until the problem is 100% eliminated
  10. Once the initial fumigation treatment is complete and dry you can follow-up with an insect dust application
  11. Dust applications works well for those hard to reach places and lasts many months
  12. Ensure you dust the corners of the base thoroughly

As mentioned before, heat kills bed bugs and eggs if they are in direct contact with it. A bed bug steamer is another great way to eradicate them from beds, mattresses and furniture. Steaming is an alternative method in areas/rooms where fumigation is not an option or where health complications are a concern. Steaming is a slower process so you need to take your time and work thoroughly to ensure you are getting the best possible results.  It is still highly recommended, where possible, to do a follow-up fumigation treatment afterwards for best results. Streaming should always be done first, before the fumigation and the bed bug cover is put on.

Bed bug prevention (how to guide)


Bed bugs and clutter goes hand-in-hand and the more clutter you have the more hiding places you create for bed bugs. If you have one or more rooms with clutter strewn about you are creating a bed bug haven. So by simply reducing clutter you reducing the risk of bed bugs substantially.
Clutter in conjunction with a warm regulated temperature in your house creates the perfect breeding grounds and environment for bud bug activity all year round.

New Furniture and bed bugs

Before you bring any new mattresses or furniture into your home, first do a thorough inspection for bed bugs. Especially second-hand furniture, you need to be very cautious. Even if you don’t see any signs of active bugs, give it a spray with a repellent anyway and place a mattress cover over it.
If you are not sure, rather play it safe and do not bring it home and have it fumigated first by a pest control professional.

After travelling check for bed bugs

As mentioned above, bugs are very prevalent in hotels, airports, B&B’s and transportation and can easily latch onto your luggage. Once you return home from your travels, go on bed bug patrol and take the time to use a torch/flashlight and inspect all dark crevices of your bags and clothing. Check for blood spots and excrement. Remember, even the most upscale accommodation in the hospitality industry are at risk of bed bugs. Messy or untidy zones are not a preference to bed bugs because all they are concerned about is regular feeding and access to their food source and places like hotels, dorms, backpackers and lodges are perfect.
Once you return home keep inspecting for at least 7 days after your travels.


  • Place double-sided sticky tape around the legs of your bed. This will trap any bugs attempting to crawl up.
  • Try and keep your bed off the floor making the trip up a bit more challenging for the bugs.
  • Place bug traps under your bed at the head board side to trap and monitor any activity
  • Place interceptors under the legs of your bed to trap hundreds of bed bugs easily.

Professional Fumigation companies in Cape Town

When you make the call, ask as many questions as you can before you commit to a fumigation company carrying out any treatments and bed bug fumigation. A professional pest control service will answer all your questions and never put any pressure on you to commit to an appointment. Ask the difficult questions like what their success rate is. Enquire about guarantees and what the process is if the treatment is unsuccessful.

Related Questions

How do bedbugs spread? Bedbugs spread by latching onto luggage, clothing and furniture. They spread by quickly crawling and hiding in tiny cracks and crevices. They prefer soft surfaces when travelling and nest in harder surfaces like cracks in bed bases, wallpaper on walls and wooden furniture.

How do bed bugs look? Adult bed bugs we find in Cape Town are 5mm long, reddish-brown to brown in colour becoming purple after feeding. They have well-developed antennae, prominent, simple eyes with the ability to climb rough but not smooth surfaces

What does bed bug bites look like? Bed bug bites looks like a raised itchy bump with a dark center and lighter swollen surrounding area. Bites look like small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern or a line bed bug bites creates a bit of discomfort, usually resulting in itchiness and inflammation.

Bed bug Fumigation Prices

Spray Treatment & Gas fumigation: R1200
Includes interior spray treatment of all areas for control of all biting and crawling insects.
Includes the treatment of all beds bases and mattresses
Includes a gas fumigation fogger treatment 
Evacuation time: 6 hours
6-month Guarantee

Contact us directly on: 0729038541