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Please note that the Council run Pest Control service came to an end on Friday 3rd August 2018. We are currently looking into alternative arrangements to provide this service in the future.

Pest Control - Bedbugs

Note: We do not offer a service to deal with bedbugs, this page is to offer advice and information only

What are bedbugs?

When you mention bedbugs most people think of house dust mites, because they have heard that these are tiny creatures that feed on dead human skin particles.

Females also lay their eggs in the fibres of some mattresses, on blankets, and in fact everywhere there is dead skin/dust to be found.

However, they are mistaken in thinking house dust mite; because bedbugs aren't interested in your dead skin, it's your blood they are after. Yes, bedbugs want your blood and they won't rest until they get it, they usually have their blood feed at night by piercing the skin with their elongated beak through which they withdraw blood while you are sleeping, yet most people seldom know they are being bitten.

Bedbugs are flattened oval shaped insects 5-6mm in length, and reddish brown changing to a dark mahogany colour after a recent blood feed.

Although they show a preference for your blood, they will not turn down the chance of a blood feed from your cat or dog and have also been known to feed on the blood of birds whilst nesting.

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How will I know I have them?

Sometimes the first signs of infestation are tiny bite marks on the upper parts of the body, usually showing on the neck, shoulders, arms hands etc, the bites appear as itchy welts, although the symptoms can vary and some people have little or no reaction at all.

Another early sign, will often be small blood smears found on the bed sheets.

A heavy infestation can sometimes be accompanied by a sweet sickly odour, which can be likened to the smell of almonds.

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Why haven't I seen them?

During the day they tend to hide in cracks and crevices, under the buttons of mattresses, behind skirting boards, behind head­boards, inside furniture etc, only coming out at night to feed when people are sleeping.

In the initial stages of the infestation their chosen harbourage will be in the bedroom as close as possible to their next meal. However, as the infestation increases they will spread to all parts of the house.

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Are they a health hazard?

Although they suck blood from their host and they do carry patho­gens in their bodies it is thought that transmission of disease is highly unlikely and for this reason they are not considered to be a serious threat to health.

The medical significance is primarily concerned with the inflammation and itching caused from their bites.

The prescribed treatment is the application of antibiotic or antiseptic creams or lotions.

See also:

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How did I get this infestation?

There are a large number of ways that these bedbugs can get into your home.

They do not fly so will have been carried in for example in suit cases after that holiday of a lifetime, in that antique dressing table you were so pleased to find, in the second hand furniture that you bought for the spare room.

Is a member of the family a student spending much of their time in student accommodation or recently returned from a gap year spent in exotic places?

And so the list goes on.

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How do I deal with an infestation?

Action against bedbugs is very specialised and entails an in depth inspection and pest identification, followed by correct insecticide selection and thorough treatment. It is not a task that should be undertaken by the householder.

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