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How Common are Bed Bugs in the UK Today?

Posted on June 21st, 2018 by Panther Pest Control Team

The history of bed bugs in the UK begins a little while before WWII. The Cimex lectularius is the type of bed bug that is native to Europe and the UK. Bed bugs weren’t common to the UK until the 1930s and since then the problem has grown. In fact, immediately after WWII, it’s reported that nearly 30% of British homes were infested with these wicked bugs. Such a drastic increase in their population was attributed to the heating systems used in homes which created more pleasant living conditions for them to thrive in.

In 2017, The Sun published an article saying that “…the numbers of bed bugs have tripled in the past five years.” This is not only a problem because it sounds like an almost epidemic level of bed bugs in the country, but also because over time bed bugs have become resistant to many of the pesticides once used to eradicate them in all of their life stages.

Where do bed bugs come from?

The origin of bed bugs dates back hundreds of years BC, back when our ancestors lived in caves. The bugs originally were parasites that used bats for hosts and lived with them inside caves. Then people came into the caves and they turned into another fantastic host for the bugs to feed on. With time, people came out of the cave, moved to other continents and bed bugs hitchhiked and moved too. They spread through Europe and Asia, and then to the rest of the continents.

But where do they come from when they infest your home is another matter:

  • If you live in a block of flats, this increases your chances of getting them in your home if one flat has them already. They can travel from flat to flat.
  • Another way they can turn up in your home is if they are brought inside. A friend or a family member can bring them if they were in an infested place before that. Bed bugs will hitchhike on clothes, bags, shoes. The worst thing is that even one female bug can create an entire infestation in your house.
  • Bed bugs can also be brought into your home after your vacation or work trip. If you stay in an infested hotel room, you are almost 100% guaranteed to bring them back home.
  • They can also enter your home with the purchase of second-hand furniture. Bed bugs don’t only live on beds or near them. They can live in other pieces of furniture that people spend a lot of time on. Be extremely careful if you are buying used furniture.
  • Used clothes can also have bed bugs on them. And even new clothes can have them. If a person who has an infestation has tried something on and you buy it, even one bed bug can be on it and then lay eggs in your home.

What attracts bed bugs? To you? To your home?

  • They are parasites that feed on human blood, so it’s the main thing that attracts them.
  • They also sense your body temperature and the carbon dioxide that you breath out, and that’s how they find you at night. They use these things as orientation for where you are, they crawl on your bed and find the best place on your body to feed.
  • Hiding places. They will need to hide somewhere near your bed or other furniture where you spent time on. Cracks in walls, even power outlets will do, skirting board, bed frame, carpet near the bed, etc. Professional pest exterminators would advise you on keeping clutter to minimum.

Signs of bed bugs

  • Black spots on your mattress or sheets – it’s bed bugs’ faecal matter. It’s gross, yes. And if see some black dots, it’s probably them.
  • Red spots on the sheets – this would be your own blood. After they’ve fed and left you alone, some tiny drops of your blood may have dropped onto your sheets.
  • Itchy hives – which are bed bug bites. In 24 hours period after the initial biting, you may see red hives on your body. Try not to scratch them and risk getting it infected. If the area gets infected see your doctor, bed bug bites are a serious matter.
  • Skins and eggshells – Dead skins or empty shells are a sign of a growing infestation.
  • Eggs or live bugs – Even though they only grow up to 5mm in length, you can see the bugs with a naked eye. If you see a reddish-brown tiny bug on your bed or near it – it’s a bed bug.

More information about bed bugs signs.

Do bed bugs jump?

No. They don’t jump, they don’t fly. They just walk and climb. They’ve never been able to jump or fly and let’s hope they never are.

Where do bed bugs live?

Highly populated areas are also highly populated with bed bugs. They are considered a common pest in the UK in the latest years because the number of people travelling internationally has increased. Bed bugs thrive in Spring, Summer and early Autumn. Your London home provides great living conditions for them because of the typical UK weather and temperatures. They prefer dark places so you won’t see them out in the open at daytime.

That’s why the places in your home where bed bugs live are:

  • Your mattress
  • The box spring of your bed
  • Walls near your bed or other furniture
  • Night stands near your bed
  • Baseboard or bed frame
  • Closet and clothing
  • Sheets
  • Curtains and carpets
  • Sofas, armchairs or other furniture where you spend time

How long do bed bugs live?

Bed bugs live comparatively longer than most types of insects. Since hatching, the life of a bug can go up to one year under perfect conditions. If not, it can live for up to ten months in general.

How long can a bed bug live without feeding? An adult bug can live without feeding on a host anywhere between two weeks and over a year, иf it lives in a place with the right amount of humidity and temperature.

Do spiders eat bed bugs?

Yes. Spiders eat bed bugs. There is usually more than one type of spider in every UK home and spiders feed primarily on other insects.

Other enemies of the parasite bugs are cockroaches and centipedes. Both of which are also a common household pest in the UK and would also eat bed bugs. But you shouldn’t rely on another type of insect to help you win the battle with pests.

How to kill bed bugs?

This is a complicated problem, as you on your own are unlikely to manage to clear the infestation. Bed bugs can die at very high or very low temperatures, or they are treated by an insecticide with industrial strength. DIY bed bug treatments often end badly, so be careful. If you suspect an active infestation book a professional bed bug treatment to save your home.

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