here’s how to avoid an infestation, and how to get rid of them
The recent hot weather has created the perfect breeding ground for bedbugs. Pest control firm Rentokil reported a 65 per cent rise in the number of call-outs for bedbugs in recent years, a trend which the company has attributed to the rise in recycling of old furniture and clothing and post-pandemic travel.
Since the 1990s, numbers of bedbugs have grown in the UK and some studies indicate that bed bugs have developed resistance to neonicotinoids, the most used insecticide in the world. Writer Hannah Fearn has spent £2k tackling her infestation, which she described to i as “a trauma” that she “wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy”.
Bed bug problems are most common in the UK in August and September. The numbers are lowest between January and February. The pest can be commonly found on public transport, and travel on luggage or soft furnishings between locations, so care must be taken when travelling or transporting items. They can also hibernate for up to a year and remain dormant.
John Horsley, technical officer at British Pest Control Association (BPCA) tells i: “Bedbugs love to migrate. They latch onto items such as luggage, clothing and second-hand furniture, and will be transported into your home.”
According to the BPCA, the common signs of an infestation include small reddish-brown clusters – about 1mm wide – on the bed frame or upholstery of the mattress, or small blood smears on the headboard. They survive by feeding on human or animal blood. Adults feed roughly once every 10 days but they can live up to one year without feeding. They move around at night.
How to avoid bringing them into your home
When travelling, people should not put cases or bags straight onto bedding. It is also important to think about the clothes you might be wearing on public transport and not placing them all directly on your bed or soft furnishings.
Emptying cases and putting clothes to wash immediately – at a minimum of 60 degrees – can help when an infestation is first spotted.
“If you’re staying in a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast, double check the mattress and other soft furnishings for signs of bed bugs, especially before putting your luggage on the bed or chairs. Do the same with second-hand furniture,” Horsley says.
As well as being more mindful about the potential for bringing bedbugs into the house, you can help by keeping your house clean.
Pest control expert Walter Murphy of PriceYourJob.co.uk says keeping the house clean is a great way to avoid bed bugs, including keeping bed sheets clean and hoovering thoroughly. “Strip your bedding and place it straight into a bag.
“Carry the bag to the washing machine and empty your bedding into the machine. Wash the bedding at a high temperature on a cycle of at least 90 minutes.”
Murphy warns that if you have an infestation this may not be a complete solution but it can reduce the number of bugs.
Vacuuming is also effective at reducing bed bugs, nymphs and eggs. “Vacuum your entire home thoroughly. Pay very close attention to the areas where the bed bugs are most prevalent, such as between wall joints and underneath furniture,” he says. “Once you’ve completed [it], make sure you empty all of the contents of the vacuum in an outside bin to reduce the chances of them returning.”
As well as cleaning bedding and vacuuming, the key to killing them could be controlling heat and the limit they’re used to, says Murphy. “Freezing infested items is a great way to get rid of bed bugs…simply place your bedding, pillowcases and any other infested items in your freezer and leave them in there for around a week.”