How Big Are Bed Bugs Uk


Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

Check if it’s bedbugs

Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

Signs of bedbugs include:

  • bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
  • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
  • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.

Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.

How you can treat bedbug bites

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

Things you can do include:

  • putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
  • keeping the affected area clean
  • not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
  • antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
  • the redness around the bites is spreading

You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

How to get rid of bedbugs

contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

do not keep clutter around your bed

do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs

Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
Next review due: 21 January 2022

Bed bug signs

It isn’t always easy to identify bed bugs or know there’s a problem. They remain hidden in tiny cracks and crevices during the daytime. Often the first sign of bed bugs is bites that appear on your body after you wake up.

Common Signs of Bed Bugs

It’s difficult to confirm presence of bed bugs just by looking at your bites.

Look for these clues to their presence:

  • Dark/black stains- on the mattress and surrounding area from bed bug excreta.
  • Sweet scent- An unpleasant, sweet, sickly scent.
  • Small dark spots- Small dark blood spots on bedding known as ‘faecal pellets’.
  • Live insects- despite being small (adult are only 4-5mm long) it’s possible to spot live bed bugs and shed skins.

Bed bugs can be difficult and costly to control. It’s important to act as soon as you have noticed evidence of activity.

Do You Think You Have Bed Bugs?

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Blood Spots by Bed Bugs

If you’ve started to notice miniature blood stains appearing on your bedding, then there’s a possibility you could be suffering from a bed bug infestation. Please note that there are many reasons why blood spots may display on bedding – however, if combined with other major signs of bed bugs then it is a clear indication of an infestation.
The sting of a bed bug, in most cases is usually painless; which is why it does take a while before you notice any of the other more visual symptoms. These blood spots will usually appear in a linear, row-like arrangement due to the fact that bed bugs avoid prolonged migration when feeding on the blood vessels.

Click to watch live image of a bed bug nymph feeding on a host.

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Bed Bug Traces

A further indicator of a bed bug infestation is small-scale black spots appearing on walkways, in their hiding places and during the actual feeding process. The average size of their faecal excrement is roughly between 0.5 and 1.0 mm. There can be collections of these faecal pellets found in common areas such as mattresses, bed frames and even behind wallpapers.

Click to watch live image of adult bed bug defecating.

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Locating Bed Bugs

Although your bed is the first place to check, bed bugs can also hide in furniture and furnishings including:

  • bed frames and headboard crevices
  • mattress seams
  • carpets and underlay
  • skirting boards
  • between timber floorboards
  • in cracked or broken plaster, behind peeling wallpaper
  • inside electrical sockets and fittings
  • drawers and cupboards
  • wardrobes
  • bedside cabinets

Bed bugs are usually found in bedrooms and sleeping areas because they need easy access to a bloodmeal at night. They are also attracted to bodyheat and carbon dioxide from our breath.

Have you noticed these signs?

An inspection by Rentokil will help to confirm a problem and enable our Technicians to offer the best solution using industry leading bed bug treatments.

Our Entotherm Heat Treatment solution is ideal for treating an entire room or specific items found with an infestation.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread?

They’re usually carried into a home or business on clothing, or in luggage or furniture. Given their size, bed bugs are well adapted to travel.

Second hand / vintage furniture

  • Second hand furniture can also harbour bed bugs. Carefully inspect for signs of infestation before taking items home, especially cracks and crevices. Rentokil can treat items before you bring them into your home.

Staying away in an overnight accommodation

Spending a night in a hotel with an infestation is the most common way of spreading bed bugs.

  • Check for blood stains on bed linen and other common signs in your hotel room when you arrive.
  • Inform hotel management if you have suspicions.
  • It may be necessary to launder, fumigate or treat belongings before returning home to ensure they are pest-free.

Visiting friends and neighbours

If your home has bed bugs, don’t risk spreading them by taking clothes, suitcases or furniture to hotels or people’s homes.

Established bed bug infestations can migrate to adjoining properties by crawling through wall or floor cavities. If you live in a flat, apartment or terraced house, inform your neighbours and other tenants to take action quickly.

How Common are Bed Bugs in the UK Today?

The history of bed bugs in the UK begins a little while before WWII. TheCimex lectulariusis 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.

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 in the 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.

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, like 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.

Matteo Grader is a senior pest technician and specialises in bed bugs treatments. He is knowledgeable and has experience in treating a wide variety of pest infestations in and around London. He likes helping people get rid of their pest problems and is always happy to explain to people how to prevent such problems.

How Big Are Bed Bugs

Last Update: 18.07.2018

It’s hard to say exactly how big bed bugs are, as they need to go through 7 stages in order to complete their life cycle. In each particular stage, the bed bug changes its size, appearance and behaviour, that’s why we decided it would be best to give you a deep description of the bed bug’s size in all phases.

Bed Bug Eggs Size

The size of the bed bug is not constant as it goes through many life stages before it reaches maturity. The lifecycle of the bed bug contains 7 stages (5 of each larva) and the insect grows progressively in each of them.

Size of a Bed Bug Egg

The bed bugs eggs are the first stage of the cycle and at that time it is about 1mm long. It’s white and is very distinctive. You will see many of these at the place of infestation – usually under the mattress of the bed. If you notice bed bugs there, make sure to treat the bed bugs on the mattress properly.

First Stage Larva Size – Nymph Phase

During the first stage of the larva, the bed bug grows in size a little bit and reaches a length of about 1.5mm. In this phase, the bed bug isn’t sexually mature yet and the nymph needs to complete a moulting stage that may happen only after the first blood meal. In this phase, the insect is usually white or light yellow.

Second Stage of Bed Bug Larva

When the insect reaches this larval stage, it grows with additional 0.5mm and becomes 2mm long. To go further, it needs to feed with blood again to complete another molt stage. The colour becomes darker than the first stage. The insect gets a red-brown body and distinctively yellow head.

Third Phase of the Bed Bug Life Cycle

Without exception, the bed bugs grow exponentially with additional 0.5mm and become 2.5mm long. It still needs another blood meal for the next molt stage and doesn’t change its appearance significantly.

Size of Bed Bugs at Fourth Stage

During this phase, the bed bugs become a little darker and its colour is red-brown. It reaches a length of 3mm and takes another blood meal for the penultimate moult phase. Luckily to everyone, professional pest treatments can take care of bed bugs in all of their life stages.

Fifth Larva Stage

This is the last larval stage of the bed bug and it’s also the phase during which the bed bug goes through the molt stage for the last time. At this time the bed bug increases its size significantly with about 1.5mm and becomes 4.5mm long. This growth is 3 times higher than in the previous stages.

The bed bug’s body shape also alters a little bit and the back of the insect becomes wider.

Adult Bed Bug – Last Stage of the Life Cycle

This is the 7th and final phase of the bed bug’s life cycle. It’s the time when the bed bugs reach its limits in terms of size and maturity. It becomes about 5.5mm long and is now able to take repeated meals instead of just one. There aren’t any molt stages at this time.

The adult female bed bug is able to lay up to 5 eggs each day and this repeats until the end of the bed bug’s life cycle. This makes this insect able to multiply really fast. That’s why it’s reasonably to exterminate them immediately when you spot the bugs. If you can’t deal on your own, don’t hesitate to seek help for professional bed bug extermination.

When completely fed, the bed bug changes its form slightly. It becomes a little longer and thinner. If you notice any of these, it means they’ve just finished feeding and best to not be smashed as it this will leave a blood spot on your sheet, mattress or furniture.

What is the size of a bed bug full of blood?

How big do bed bugs get, you probably wonder, don’t you? When completely grown, adult bed bugs can reach a size of about 5.5mm long. While feeding with blood their diameter grows mostly in length. This means that right after the feast a bed bug can significantly increase the size of its diameter and becomes about 6mm long.

The crawling insect needs roughly 3-10 minutes to become fed up with its victim’s blood, often leaving a severe rash and itchy bite marks after that.

How Big Are Bed Bugs Compared to Fleas

Fleas are significantly smaller than the bed bugs but this can hardly be seen with naked eye. The average size of an adult flea is 3mm which is about 2 times smaller than the average adult bed bug (5.5mm – 6mm).

Both bed bugs and fleas can cause severe problems to humans such as:

  • Itchy bites;
  • Raches;
  • Psychological effects.

While bed bugs prefer to bite humans and rarely animals, it’s exactly the opposite for fleas – they prefer to attack animals and bite humans pretty occasionally.

How Big Are Bed Bugs Compared to Ticks

The only similarities bed bugs and ticks have are the following:

  • Both are flat:
  • Wingless
  • They bite people;
  • Feed on people’s blood.

Now the differences. While bed bugs are insects, having 6 legs, ticks are arachnids (an adult tick has 8 legs) such as the spiders.

While in unfed condition, adult female black-legged ticks (red and brown coloured) are approximately from 3 to 5mm long. After being engorged with blood meal, female ticks change not only their size (about 10mm long) but also their colour appears darker.

Adult males are smaller than females and are uniformly brown in colour. Nymphs are between 1-2 mm long, also eight-legged and larvae are less than 1 mm long (about poppy seed sized) and have only 6 legs.

Matteo Grader is a senior pest technician and specialises in bed bugs treatments. He is knowledgeable and has experience in treating a wide variety of pest infestations in and around London. He likes helping people get rid of their pest problems and is always happy to explain to people how to prevent such problems.

MUTANT bed bugs ‘resistent to extermination’ swarm Britain

MUTANT bed bugs which have developed a resistance to extermination chemicals have swarmed Britain.

An infestation is characterised by tiny white eggs in the crevices of your mattress (Image: GETYY)

The creepy crawlies have evolved to become stronger than the traditional bed bug due to their ability to block chemicals designed to wipe them out.

Their defiance has also been blamed on modern living factors such as central heating and super-soft furnishings.

Frequent travel – whether abroad or simply commuting – has also made the critters stronger as they often hitch rides on suitcases.

But there are ways to get rid of them.

Firstly, you need to be able to actually spot the devils.

The best course of action to rid your home of the bugs is to change bed sheets regularly (Image: GETTY)

An infestation is characterised by tiny white eggs in the crevices of your mattress and furniture or little blood spots on your sheets from accidentally squishing the brown adult mites.

The best course of action to rid your home of the bugs is to change bed sheets regularly and wash them all in boiling water.

A 60 degrees wash is perfect, but to kill off the egg sacs pop the newly-washed sheets in the tumble dryer for 30 minutes too.

Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any bugs you can see and if you have a hoover with a bag that empties, get rid of it.

To stop new bugs getting in, put a plastic protector over your mattress (Image: GETTY)

To stop new bugs getting in, put a plastic protector over your mattress.

A 2016 study found that bed bugs are attracted to certain colours.

The parasites love nothing more than to hide in red and black areas, so avoid these dark, intense colours when it comes to selecting your bedding and furniture.

The same study conducted by the University of Florida showed the nuisance bugs have green and yellow, so try to use these colours instead.

As of the bites themselves, they usually fade within a few days and do not spread diseases.

But they can itch like crazy, and if left untreated can become big red welts.

Once the pests find a host they will feed on it for between five and 10 minutes before they fill themselves up.

A mild steroid cream can be applied to soothe the itch but if you develop a painful rash consult your GP.

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