Bedbugs: London’s Fastest Growing Pest Problem?
There are some pretty unpleasant insects in the world, but bedbugs are one of the worst. These creatures infest cracks and crevices around our beds and bite us while we sleep. They truly are the stuff of nightmares.
Unfortunately, bed bug numbers are on the rise, especially in London. With so much international travel these days, the insects are being brought back from trips abroad. As such, they’re often found in hotels and can hitchhike into our homes in suitcases and second hand furniture.
What is a Bedbug?
Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat insects, around 5mm long. They vary in colour, but are usually a reddish brown, and are most often active at night when they emerge from their hiding places to feed. This involves biting sleeping humans to ingest their blood.
Much like ticks and other blood eating creepy crawlies, bedbugs increase in size as they drink, and darken in colour. If there aren’t any people around, they can survive up to 18 months without food.
I Thought they were Too Small to See?
Bedbugs are often difficult to find, especially if only a few are present. This is because they tend to hide between meals, and only feed once every one or two weeks. However, a lot of people confuse bed bugs with dust mites. Bed bugs are large enough to see if you can find them. Dust mites, on the other hand, are only 0.3mm across and can only be seen with a magnifying glass.
Dust mites are much more common, and although they produce allergens that cause reactions in some people, are much less of a problem.
How Else Can I Tell They’re There?
If you don’t manage to see the bugs themselves, you will usually know you have an infestation when you begin to find bites on your body or smears of blood on the sheets when you wake up. Bedbug bites can be itchy and painful, but the effects vary a lot between individuals. Some people might not know they’ve been bitten at all, while others develop rashes and reddish welts on the skin. These symptoms sometimes take days or weeks to appear. Be aware that the bites of other insects and certain skin conditions look virtually identical to bedbug bites.
Other signs of the insects are a sweet, musty odour and the presence of eggs, which are white and around a millimetre long.
If you suspect you have bedbugs, get in touch. Our experts will identify the pests and get rid of the problem.
Are the Bites Dangerous?
Bedbugs aren’t known to carry diseases, and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that they “should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard”. However, they can cause painful and itchy allergic reactions, and if scratched the bites can get infected.
There’s also the psychological effect of knowing there are dozens of tiny critters waiting to bite you when you go to sleep. Understandably, bedbug infestations cause anxiety and sleepless nights. That’s why it’s important to act as quickly as you can.
Why are Bedbugs so Common?
In the 1980s, bedbugs were virtually eradicated in the Western world by chemicals like DDT, but their numbers are now on the rise, particularly in big cities like London.
The rise is partly due to the vast numbers of people coming into London’s airports every day, as the bugs are brought back from abroad, but there is also evidence that bedbugs are becoming resistant to insecticides. DIY treatments often won’t be effective, so it’s important to contact a professional pest control company to be sure of getting rid of them.
How can I Prevent an Infestation?
Preventing bedbug infestations isn’t easy, but in knowing when you are vulnerable there are steps you can take to help reduce the risks. If you’re travelling aboard (or even staying in a hotel in the UK), consider leaving your bags outside when you get home and thoroughly inspecting them before bringing them into the building. You should also inspect second hand furniture to make sure there are no creepy crawlies lurking in screw holes or gaps.
If you run a hotel, guest house or other business offering rooms to the public, controlling bedbugs is even more difficult. With so many travellers coming and going, you never know who could bring the pests into your establishment. Take a look at our hotels page for more information on commercial pest control solutions.
What if They’re Already Here?
If you think you have bedbugs, there’s not much you can do except call in the experts, and fast. As tempting as it might be, going to a friend’s house to sleep probably isn’t a good idea. You might find you simply take the pests with you. Even sleeping on the sofa can spread them around the house.
If you see a bug, it’s useful to catch it for later identification. Otherwise, all you can do is call a reputable pest control company. DIY treatments aren’t recommended as you may move the bugs around rather than getting rid of them.
To remove the bugs, most properties need a minimum of three treatments, and we may need to dismantle and inspect furniture to make sure there is nowhere for them to hide.