How Common 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

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.

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.

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?

Don’t waste time, book a treatment now with one of our experts.

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 to get rid of bed bugs

Once a bed bug problem is discovered, most people just want to know the best way to eliminate them. Thankfully there are some simple steps you can take, prior to professional bed bug treatment, to help manage the level of an infestation from bed bugs. Watch our video on the 5 simple steps you can take to help eliminate bed bugs from your home.

5 simple steps to help you tackle a small bed bug infestation

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High levels of hygiene, deep cleaning and the use of DIY bed bug spray products will help to kill some bed bugs. However professional treatment is often needed to successfully treat an infestation as it can be hard to get rid of bed bugs completely on your own. DIY solutions are not usually powerful enough to eradicate the presence of bed bugs. They have built up resilience to many types of conventional pesticides, making even professional treatment difficult.

Identify Your Pest

The first step to solving any pest problem is to know what pest you are dealing with. In this case, you need to be sure you have bed bugs and not another biting insect such as mosquitoes or fleas. Pest control services and solutions vary depending on the species infesting your home or business.

Bed bugs are nocturnal, only coming out at night to feed, which makes them difficult to spot. During the day they tend to hide in cracks and crevices near their preferred feeding area(usually a bed). If you can identify the common signs of bed bugs, it will help to confirm if there is an infestation present in your premises.

Correct identification of a bed bug or bed bug bite will help you to choose the most effective pest control solution, saving you both time and money.

Watch our infographic video about bed bugs.

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Choose Your Method

DIY or Professional?

When it comes to getting rid of bed bugs, you are likely to need professional help even though there are DIY options to help reduce the numbers of bed bugs these are unlikely to eradicate an established infestation completely.

The DIY option, requires you to take a proactive approach to managing an infestation taking up a lot of time as you will need to be carefully monitoring the effectiveness of the DIY treatment. You will also need a basic awareness of common bed bug hotspots to make your DIY treatments as effective as possible and you’ll need to understand how and where they can spread to ensure that all potential areas of infestation are monitored and treated.

The professional solution just needs you to contact your local, Rentokil expert at the first signs of bed bugs, to allow immediate treatment byBPCA(British Pest Control Association) certified technicians.

DIY bed bug treatment (not recommended)

If you decide to control bed bugs on your own, there are a few steps you can take straight away to try and manage a small bed bug problem.

How to get rid of bed bugs yourself

  1. Inspect- check bed bug hot spots such as mattress seams, bed frames, headboards, along the edge of carpets, and nearby furniture(cabinets, drawers, armchairs, sofas)for live insects.
  2. Wash- wash infested bedding at a high temperature of at least 60℃ for ideally 90 minutes minimum.
  3. Heat- If possible, place items into a tumble dryer for minimum 30 minute cycle.
  4. Vacuum- vacuum your bed, mattress, and any area near to where you have spotted bed bugs. Use the hose attachments to clean along walls and around edges. Afterwards, take the vacuum outside of your property to empty into an outside bin and seal securely.

Although these steps can help to control the problem, they do not guarantee to eliminate a bed bug infestation completely. The most effective solution for complete bed bug eradication is by an expert, professionally qualified pest controller.

Professional bed bug treatment

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Home

Waking up to discover bed bug bites will still be very distressing, especially if young children are involved. If you’ve taken all the necessary bed bug prevention steps and have not achieved success with DIY treatments, your next step should be to contact a pest control professional.

At Rentokil, our experts understand the habits of bed bugs and use their knowledge and expertise to choose the most effective bed bug control solutions for your property. We offer a range of bed bug solutions such as heat pod treatment and chemical which effectively manage a bed bug problem at each stage of their life cycle from eggs to fully grown adults.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Business

When it comes to bed bugs, businesses operating in the hospitality industry are at greatest risk. This is due to the high volumes of traffic hotels, B&Bs, and motels receive each day, which increases the risk of a bed bug infestation.

The consequences are significant for brand reputation, customer reviews, employee morale, operational efficiency and ultimately revenue and profits. When it comes to bed bugs and business, DIY treatment is far too risky and cannot guarantee success. For complete protection, you should depend on a qualified, expert pest controller for expert bed bug control.

At Rentokil we not only offer innovative bed bug solutions using heat pod treatment, but also provide training to help educate your staff on how to successfully spot the early signs of bed bugs in hotels and what to do before an infestation can take hold.

How to choose your pest controller

How To Choose your Pest Controller

To find the right professional pest control company, you need to ensure the entire organisation, as well as the pest control technicians are able to fulfill key criteria. A good pest controller should be able to anticipate and answer all your health and safety concerns. Services and treatments should be tailored to suit your individual needs as much as possible.

Crucially a professional should also respect your home, property or business site and operate with the greatest care and attention. He or she should be able to voice any challenges or restrictions right from the start. Equally, as a customer, you should always feel able to voice any concerns and ask as many questions as you need to.

Key criteria for Selection:

  1. Certifications- licences and certifications will demonstrate that your treatments are carried out to the highest industry standard practices.
  2. Affiliated associations- membership of recognised industry associations will ensure your services are provided by a trained, insured and trusted company, which has to comply to strict membership criteria.
  3. Personal recommendations- even today, word-of-mouth and personal recommendations can be more powerful than a company’s own word. Speak to neighbours, friends, family and check review sites to find out about customer satisfaction.
  4. Online reviews- independent online Customer Reviews – such as Trustpilot, can be a source of information by your peers on the services they have received.
  5. Transparency- complete honesty and transparency early-on regarding the cost, level and duration of treatment required will help you see if the company is reliable.
  6. Expertise & experience- a well established, recognised company can offer peace of mind in the services provided and its relationship with customers.

Why use Rentokil?

With Rentokil you can be assured of complete pest protection from British Pest Control Association (BPCA) certified technicians. Our focus on control solutions will ensure elimination of your pest problem. At the same time, our approach to pest prevention will help your home or business remain pest-free long-term.

Our experience and expertise in the pest control industry should reassure you of the quality of our service and our expertly trained pest controllers.

  • We tailor our treatments to target pests by species.
  • We customise our solutions based on the uniqueness of your home, building or business premises – recognising that every pest problem is different.
  • We use advanced solutions approved by industry governing bodies – helping to ensure reliability and success.
  • Our large network of entomologists and field biologists support the services and treatments used by our pest controllers on-site.

Take Action

Contact us today, to get rid of your bed bug problem and eliminate any stress or concerns you have regarding pests in your property.

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