Bedbugs can infiltrate homes. This may happen when a person returns from holiday; if someone has purchased second-hand furniture that’s infested; or if the bedbugs have migrated from a neighbouring house, according to Natalie Bungay, technical officer for the British Pest Control Association (BPCA).
She advises people who buy second-hand furniture like sofas, beds or chairs to look over them carefully before taking them home. “If a neighbour has a bad [bedbug] problem they can migrate,” she says. So people in terraced houses, semi-detached properties and flats should be on the lookout.
How To Tell If You Have Bedbugs
Bedbugs are about the size of an apple pip and dark brown in colour. If they’ve had a feed, they might be dark red in colouring.
The bugs often hide in cracks and crevices around the bed, so it’s wise to check the seams of your mattress, as well as on and behind the headboard, inside mattress or duvet labels, and behind and underneath bedside tables.
Bungay recommends keeping an eye out for the bugs themselves, or looking for any tiny blood spots on your sheet or mattress. Bedbug droppings are also a telltale sign you have a problem, which she describes as looking “like a fountain pen has been dotted on paper”. These droppings will often be smeared onto fabric, mattresses or headboards.
You might also have bites on your body from where they’ve fed. “With bedbug bites, they generally don’t have a tip,” Bungay explains. “Sometimes when you’re bitten by a mosquito you have a white tip on top of the bite, but with bedbugs it tends to be a smooth, red lump.”
They tend to bite people’s shoulders or the ends of their limbs – basically any areas of the body that will hang out of the covers.
“They tend to bite people’s shoulders or the ends of their limbs.”
How To Get Rid Of Them
If you do discover bedbugs, it’s imperative you call a pest controller. “There is nothing you can do,” Bungay explains. Even if you see one bug on its own, the likelihood is that there will be more – especially if you find it on the bed or headboard.
Typically, a pest controller will come and inspect the rooms where the bugs have been found, as well as nearby rooms. This, Bungay says, can take up to three hours. “They will then come up with a treatment plan,” she adds. “This usually involves some form of insecticide.”
Quite often pest controllers use a mixture of methods to attack the problem, rather than just spraying an insecticide. They might use heat, because heating furniture up to 60 degrees has been found to kill the bugs.
If your mattress is covered in bedbugs, it might have to be removed from your home – and you can’t get a new one until the infestation has been removed, otherwise they’ll simply re-infest the new one.
Freezing things, such as bedsheets and shoes, can also help kill them. “Stick them in the freezer for 48 hours,” Bungay explains. “Insecticide doesn’t penetrate their eggs whereas cold and heat kills every life stage.”