How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs


Bedbugs, about the size of an apple seed when fully grown, lurk in the smallest cracks and crevices within the home or property. Having lived on human blood for centuries, these parasites are stubborn creatures to get rid of; many people think that they can effectively deal with bedbugs themselves but, as you will learn in this article, it takes more than washing the sheets and vacuuming the mattress.

Professional help is nearly always required but you first need to identify if it is bedbugs that are the problem, an idea of their habits, followed by the measures needed to get rid of them.

What is a bedbug?

Flat, round and reddish brown, some people liken them to a lentil-shaped creature measuring around 7mm in length. The ones that cause problems for humans are the common bedbug, Climex lectularis, and the tropical bedbug Climex hemipterus.

True or false? – Bedbugs cannot be seen with the naked eye?
FALSE! Adults are the size of an apple seed, with nymphs resembling poppy seeds; eggs can be more difficult to see, with the use of a magnifying glass often needed.

Are they becoming more common?

Up until 2000, bedbugs in more developed countries such as the UK were somewhat of a rarity. However, numbers and incidences of bedbug infestations in the UK in counties from Kent to Shropshire and beyond, along with other countries such as America and Canada, have been on the increase.

There are two reasons why people believe bedbugs in the UK are becoming more common;

  • Some people suggest that our ability to easily travel all over the globe has given the bedbug a handy mode of transport (us, bags and seats, anything…)
  • Evidence from a 2013 study by the journal ‘Nature Scientific Reports’, suggested that bedbugs had developed a resistance to some insecticides.

A nuisance, but not dangerous

Many people are obviously distressed and uncomfortable at the thought of sharing their bed with a small bug.
Bedbugs, although they do not fly, can quickly become established in the home; they can move quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. The female bedbug can lay around 500 eggs during their lifetime (which can be several years; they can survive over a year without feeding!), all the size of a speck of dust.

Immature bedbugs are called nymphs and they will shed their skin up to 5 times before reaching full maturity. Before each skin shedding, they will need a heavy meal of blood and, in the right conditions, the speed of this growth from nymph to adult can take around a month.

However, even though you may have itchy bites, the good news is they do not transmit diseases or infections.

True or false? – not everyone has a ‘reaction’ to bedbug bites?
TRUE! Not everyone will have an itchy lump or two after being bitten by bedbugs and may only know they have them in their home.

Getting to know bedbugs

Understanding their habits means that eradication can be made slightly easier – professional pest controllers know where to look and some of these places may seem unlikely hiding places…

Bedbugs are around the width of a credit card, hence they can fit in the smallest of places and, unlike other insects and bugs. They do not nest, preferring to live together in groups, hiding in places such as mattresses, bedframes and headboards.

Are they a sign of poor hygiene?

Many people are embarrassed to ‘admit’ they have a bedbug infestation but, there really is no need. Bedbugs live off human blood; they will live anywhere where they have access to humans. They can be found in the cleanest hotel rooms and the cleanest homes across the UK.

Bedbugs bite!

In order to access a blood meal, they will obviously need to pierce through human skin. They are more active at night, feeding for between 3 and 10 minutes until they become engorged, swollen with blood and then scuttle away unnoticed.

Initially, these bites are painless but, as they happen over and over again, they can begin to develop in to itchy welts. Flea bites tend to be similar in look, but they tend to be around the ankles; bedbugs bite on the areas of exposed skin whilst we sleep and, bedbug bites do not have the red post centre characteristic of flea bites.

Spotting the signs of a bedbug infestation

Many people find that they have bedbugs when they wake with red itchy bites in the morning, whereas they had none the night before!

There are other signs too, such as;

  • Blood stains on sheets or pillowcases
  • Bedbug excrement can also be seen on sheets, nightwear and walls too – they will look like dark or rusty coloured spots
  • You may also find evidence of shed skin or egg shells
  • Bedbugs also produce a musty smell from their scent glands

Confirming it is bedbugs is something that a professional pest controller can do but, you can check yourself by carefully checking all the nooks and crannies of your bed, including the mattress and bedframe.

Bedbugs can hide in all kinds of places, from clothes in the wardrobe to skirting boards and electrical sockets. A professional pest controller will know exactly where to look!

Getting rid of bedbugs

Effective eradication is a two part process – using insecticides treatment as well effective, deep cleaning…

  • Bedding, linen, curtains and, in some cases, clothing will need to be washed in hot water, at least 60° or more
  • They will also need to be dried at the hottest temperature possible in a tumble dryer
  • Any items that cannot be washed – stuffed animals, shoes for example – should be placed in a tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes.
  • Bedbugs and their eggs will need to be loosened from the mattress prior to vacuuming, therefore a clean, stiff bristled hand brush can be helpful
  • Once this has been done vacuum the mattress thoroughly, along with all the other areas within the bedroom, concentrating for some time on small crevices, such as skirting boards
  • Some experts also suggest either replacing the mattress (but clean the room thoroughly before you bring the new mattress in to the room) if the infestation was significant or, using a mattress protector that tightly zip to completely cover the mattress BUT, this will need to be in place for more than a year as bedbugs, nymphs and eggs can survive for up to 12 months without a blood meal
  • When you have finished vacuuming, either place the contents of the vacuum in the bin immediately
  • Cracks in plaster need to be filled in and sealed, and wallpaper needs to be glued down – any places where bedbugs can hide need to be eliminated from the room

However, whilst cleaning and washing at high temperatures are a way of controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them requires some kind of chemical treatment. Over-the-counter chemical treatments will not be as effective or as strong as those used by SOS Pest Control.

The safest and most effective solution to becoming bedbug free is to call SOS Pest Control in Kent today! We offer a free no obligation survey and treatment plan.