Just days after a bedbug outbreak in a sauna in Incheon, a report of bedbugs in a dormitory at a private university in Daegu sparked a scare.
Bedbugs used to be common in Korea. However, with the Saemaul Undong (also known as the New Community Movement) in the 1960s and DDT and other insecticides becoming commonplace in the 1970s, native bedbugs virtually disappeared in the 1980s. However, since around 2006, reports of bedbugs have continued to appear.
Bedbugs have a flat, oval-shaped body with six legs and are 6 to 9 millimeters long. Bedbug bites cause red, swollen, itchy skin. It’s similar to a mosquito bite, but bedbugs draw 7 to 10 times more blood than mosquitoes. They’re also more itchy and cover a larger area. Bedbugs don’t carry infectious diseases. They don’t like light. They hide in furniture and wall cracks during the day and come out at night to feed on humans.
The best way to reduce bedbug populations naturally is to utilize natural enemies, but this has become a problem with improved housing conditions. Cockroaches are the natural predators of bedbugs, and are often referred to as “bedbug predators.” However, with the disappearance of cockroaches due to improved housing conditions, bedbug populations have increased.
If you find bedbugs, you should report them to your local health center. Pests are managed by the Ministry of Environment’s National Institute of Biological Resources
if they disrupt the ecosystem, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
if they carry infectious diseases, and the National Ecological Center if they are invasive species not found in Korea. However, bedbugs don’t fit into any of these categories. They’re not routinely controlled, but rather treated through quarantine whenever they appear.