Bed bug infestation on the rise across Australia: ‘It’s horrendous’

'The itching is so intense you can't have clothes on,' MAFS star Domenica Calarco says after being attacked by bed bugs in an Aussie hotel.

Following Paris's bed bug "plague" and the influx of Aussie travellers returning home after the holidays, it is no surprise bed bugs are increasingly being found across the country.

State governments and pest experts alike have confirmed the tiny menaces have seen a "resurgence" in recent times and infestations are more common than people think — with one Aussie reality star ending up at the doctor's surgery after being attacked by the pests while in a Melbourne hotel recently.

"The itching is so intense you can't have clothes on, even air conditioning would make me itchy when I would feel the breeze on my skin," Domenica Calarco told Yahoo News Australia. "I cannot believe how many people have had them."

Sydney pest control expert Christopher Moschella confirmed the rise in infestations, saying since travel returned post-Covid he has seen an increase in bed bug jobs coming his way — now attending at least two of these jobs per week himself.

Left image is of a bed bug sitting on striped bedding. Right image is of Domenica Calarco showing her red bed bug bites on her shoulder.
Bed bugs have seen a 'resurgence' in Australia in recent times. Getty/ TikTok/Domenica Calarco

"This doesn't include the other pesties with our company," he told Yahoo. "It's non-stop and things can get wildly out of control. It's horrendous."

Moschella says bed bug infestations are the "worst" pest problem people can experience, and has seen it cause serious "mental health" and financial stresses. "It takes a minimum of six weeks of step-by-step treatments, you need to do it properly," he explained. "And people need to do all the preparation work first."

Preparation work recommended before you begin professional treatment includes:

  • Emptying infected rooms of all items and furniture.

  • Heat washing all clothes and linen, using heat that is over 50 degrees.

Following this, a pest controller soaks the area in chemicals on at least two separate occasions. Chris then recommends a final hot steam clean of the space. During those weeks, it is recommended you do not stay in those rooms. "These infestations can easily come back," he said.

Costs vary for bed bug infestation treatment, but to do it properly Chris guesses people spend up to $1000 to put an end to these pests in the home.

Recent bed bug attack in Melbourne hotel room

Ex-MAFS star Domenica Calarco shared her terrifying bed bug ordeal after staying in a serviced apartment in St Kilda, Melbourne on January 19 during the Australian Open.

Staying the one night and returning to Sydney the next morning, it was there Domenica discovered she was covered in red, itchy bites — eventually finding out they were from bed bugs. "Once I realised that it was bed bugs I started freaking out and started getting paranoid that I had brought them back to Sydney with me," she said.

After washing all her clothes in hot water and "getting rid" of her suitcase, Domenica — who has labelled the incident as "traumatic" — has been focused on recovering from the bites all over her body, seeing a doctor who had to prescribe steroids to help the inflammation.

"I definitely think the level of trauma comes from the stigma around having the inflamed red marks all over your body," she said. Since the incident, Domenica claims the hotel has not given her a refund saying that they have found "no evidence" of bed bugs in the room.

Bed bugs fast facts

  • Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that can grow up to about 5mm long and usually are cream or brown in colour, according to the Australian Health Direct website.

  • They feed on blood and are commonly seen on mattresses, clothing, or other furniture.

  • Their bites look like red, itchy spots and are most likely to be found on legs, arms and shoulders.

  • Heat over 50 degrees celsius is the best way to get rid of these unwanted pests.

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