Unlike mosquitoes and ticks there are no confirmed cases of bedbugs spreading disease from one human to another.
Bed bugs are usually associated with dirty conditions, however recently they have become a problem in the UK where increased travel to warmer areas has allowed them to be carried back into centrally heated houses and hotels.
The bugs have a distinct and unpleasant odour that is probably a defence mechanism. The refuges where bed bugs hide away will acquire this unpleasant odour rapidly.
White oval eggs are laid in crevices and cracks, several are usually found together. The eggs hatch to produce nymphs. There are five instars before the adult stage and generally a blood feed is required during each instar. The nymphs and adults are shield shaped and red-brown to brown in colour, 4-6mm in length in the adult. Females are long lived and if the temperature is favourable and they can obtain blood meals every three to four days, they can lay 3-4 eggs a day for up to six months.
Populations can build up rapidly, starved bugs can survive for long periods and the average length of life for an adult is about one year. At temperatures from 13-15 degrees, development and activity will continue throughout the year. Below 13 degrees, development is arrested and the bugs go into an arrested state until the temperature increases.
Signs of bedbugs:
Adult bedbugs are roughly apple pip size and may vary in colour. When fed they may appear red/ purple whilst hungry ones may appear opaque. Adults can be found in sockets, cracks and crevices, on curtains and along skirting boards or carpet edges.
Bedbugs are nocturnal creatures and will feed when humans are asleep at night. The bites will be red, slightly swollen, itchy and may appear in clusters.
Bedbugs deposit their faeces after every meal. This will appear as dark brown stains on bedding especially round the edges of mattresses and bed frames where they are mainly found. This will be more pronounced with heavier infestations.
Spots of blood may be found in bedding and is caused by bed bugs feeding or from crushing the insect.
To prevent an infestation:
Store any suitcases and bags off the ground and away from your bed when staying at a hotel in the UK or abroad.
When buying second hand furniture thoroughly inspect it for insects within the seams, crevices and cracks.
Vacuuming mattresses and material areas will help reduce the number of insects and eggs. The bed frame and any bedroom furniture must be moved away from the walls and the whole room vacuumed. Ensure the vacuum contents are put in your outside bin.
Bedbugs are very difficult to eradicate, especially where high levels of infestation exist. Treatments often have to be tried and varied to ensure success.
Both Fendona and Tenopa have low toxicity to humans and domestic animals.
With severe infestations it is not always possible to guarantee that there will not be further bites from bed bugs. Adults and nymphs may emerge after treatment and succeed in biting the occupants before succumbing to the insecticide. In sensitive areas such as hospital wards and hotel rooms, it may be worth considering leaving the treated room unoccupied for 2-3 nights to ensure that any emerging bugs are killed and do not bite the occupants.
New control methods are being tested all the time, including sealed bags around mattresses, new insectides and even treatment with temperature manipulation.
We do not recommend that you try and treat an infestation yourself; instead you should seek a professional pest control service.
The biscuit beetle is found worldwide and is common throughout the UK. It is found in shops and domestic larders infesting a wide variety of food stuffs such as flour, bread, breakfast cereals and other cereal products, beverage concentrates, spices, biscuits, packet soups and drinks.
The larvae will live for two to five months where they will continue to grow and moult. Once they have reached a full grown length of 5mm, they construct a cocoon around them. This stage typically lasts between three and five weeks. On emerging, the adult beetles disperse and live without feeding for up to eight weeks. Mating takes place soon after the adult has emerged and the female will then lay her eggs before she dies.
If you intend to carry out your own treatment, read the label of the insecticide container before you buy it to ensure it is suitable for ‘crawling insects’ ideally one that specifies biscuit beetles. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying insecticide so that you do not cause harm to yourself, contaminate food, or damage your furnishings.
There are several types of carpet beetle in the UK. The most common types are the varied carpet beetle and the furniture carpet beetle. In both types, the adults are normally between 4-5mm in size, and have a series of dense tufts of bristles and hair located on each side of the rear end of the body. These bristles give rise to their common name of ‘woolly bears’.
The female carpet beetle usually lays 40 eggs which take just over two weeks to hatch. The larvae will live and feed for a period of 7-10 months. Following this, the larvae then turns to pupa and an adult beetle will emerge approximately one month later. Adults, however, will normally only live for a period of 2-6 weeks. Adults can fly and may be found in windowsills and they are attracted to daylight.
Carpet beetles thrive in conditions where they remain undisturbed, for example, beneath carpets, skirting boards and in wardrobes. However, they do not present significant health hazards. In some cases, larval hairs can cause skin irritations to those exposed to large numbers.
The wandering habits of these insects mean they frequently infest wide areas, making them difficult to control. To begin with, the source of the infestation must be traced. This could be found in old nests, animal remains, wool based lagging, soundproofing, wool based furnishings, or debris that has accumulated between floorboards. All sources of infestation should be removed and burnt where possible.
Insecticide treatment is vital where infestations are large. This will ensure that all larvae are killed. Check DIY stores for ‘crawling insect’ aerosols and powders. We cannot recommend brands or suppliers. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions. It is recommended that you test small areas of carpets and valuable furnishings to ensure that the chemical does not damage or stain them.
Cockroaches are insects that range in size from 10-23mm in length. They have long whip-like antennae and two pairs of wings. The two most commonly found species are the Oriental Cockroach and the German Cockroach.
Cockroaches are an ancient insect species that have always lived amongst humans. They are considered a public health hazard as they are omnivorous and feed on virtually anything.
Their feeding behaviour can result in cockroaches feeding in drains and waste storage areas. Diseases can then be picked up and transferred onto food products and surfaces.
Infestations are often the result of broken drains or building defects. Cockroaches can even be transferred between locations, for example by eggs or adults being within products purchased from infected shops.
They carry bacteria which can then be responsible for gastroenteritis, dysentery and typhoid. They can also cause allergic reactions for some people, including asthmatics.
Cockroaches hide during the daytime and are nocturnal. In the event of a severe infestation, they may be seen at anytime but usually spend the day hiding in cracks and around drains and service ducting. They can be found in premises where food is stored or handled.
If you suspect you have an infestation, watch for insects scuttling away to hide when you enter at night. Also you can use a torch to check behind units, refrigerators and cookers to look for cockroaches. Also look for faecal matter and redundant egg cases.
They are approximately 1.7cm long with a tapering abdomen.
Each female will produce 4 to 8 egg capsules in her lifetime and each capsule will contain 30 to 40 eggs.
Infestations will be found in areas of high humidity and near food e.g. in kitchens behind fridges, skirting boards, around cookers and in cupboards.
Untidy and unclean living conditions will attract cockroaches.
A sweet smell may occur in large infestations.
Oriental cockroaches are a very dark brown or shiny black and are approximately 2.5 cm long.
Each female will produce an average of 8 egg capsules and each will contain 16 eggs.
Oriental cockroaches prefer spaces where they can crawl around like basements, cellars, drains and other moist areas.
They can tolerate lower temperatures than German cockroaches so they can be found in drains, bins and waste areas.
The following suggestions may also help:
Professional Pest Control Officers usually place monitor traps (sticky boards) to assess infestation. Once an infested area is identified, it will be treated with an insectidal spray, where necessary around the boundary of the rooms, at the junction between floors and walls, behind equipment and in vents and ducting. The treated area is left undisturbed for as long as possible and a re-treatment is usually applied to kill any new nymphs as they emerge from their eggs.
Monitor traps may continue to be used to further assess treatment.
The dust mite lives for around 3-4 months and produces twenty droppings a day, approximately 2000 during it’s lifespan which it can eat up to three times over.
The female lays her eggs amongst the fibres of mattresses, blankets and carpets. The larvae hatches after a few days and feeds before moulting into the nymphal stage again. The number of these processes vary between the species but throughout the period the mite feeds on dead human skin scales and hair.
Females lay between 60 and 100 eggs, dependent on their living conditions.
Very high standards of cleanliness have proved to have suppressed mites but not eliminate them.
Other species have been found in cereal-based meals, dried and tanned animal hides, mattresses and other domestic furniture.
A large number of people have been found to be allergic to house dust, the main cause being house dust mites, their bodies or their faecal excretions.
Infestations can spread quickly especially as a female can lay up to 50 eggs a day. Most eggs will fall off the pet and hatch wherever they are in the house, usually where the pet sleeps, Only a small number of the flea population in a house will be on the animal at any given time.
Flea eggs can remain dormant for long periods of time but will be stimulated by vibration and heat. When this happens an adult flea will emerge and seek food. This is why people can experience flea bites when they move into a property that has been vacant for a while.
The adult flea is 2-7mm long and brownish in colour. Their bodies are compressed from side to side enabling them to move quickly and they have relatively large hind limbs from jumping. The three most common species are:
The eggs hatch in about one week into white threadlike larvae. The larvae thrive in dark, humid places such as carpets and animal bedding.
After two or three weeks, when they are fully grown, the larvae spin into a cocoon and pupate. The adults usually emerge within seven weeks but can remain as pupae throughout the winter, only emerging when triggered by the movement of a suitable host. The complete life cycle will normally last four weeks but may take longer at low temperatures.
Pets scratching more than usual and on close examination you find fleas or small black flecks which is the faeces of the fleas.
Sightings of fleas - you may see them on yourself, in your home or on your pets.
Vacuum living areas including furniture on a regular basis and areas where pets sleep, ensuring you tip any vacuum contents into your outside bin.
To prevent an infestation, ensure pets are treated regularly for fleas. On Spot is a treatment provided by vets. Once applied to animals skin it will provide protection from fleas and other pests for up to two months. A vet should be consulted for the correct treatment of your animal.
Wash bedding and animal bedding in a hot wash regularly.
If you do find an infestation, you may be able to get rid of it yourself using special insecticide either from your local DIY shop or vet. The insecticide is usually an aerosol.
Keep floor space clear, to allow for thorough and effective treatment.
Vacuum all affected areas thoroughly (including cracks, crevices and the edge of carpets) and dispose of the contents into your outside bin, This will help stimulate any eggs/ fleas and help the treatment work better.
When using insecticide always refer to the product instructions prior to use and follow at all times. Ensure that all animals allowed into your home are treated.
Spray floors, carpets and underneath furniture. You should never spray anything that comes into direct contact with human skin, e.g. bedding and seating. Spray from the corner first and cover all the carpet evenly.
After spraying, do not vacuum for ten days, or more, if possible. This will allow the insecticide to continue working on any hatching eggs or remaining fleas.
If you require professional help, Pest Control contractors will treat your premises with an insecticidal spray which would then be left undisturbed for eight to ten days.
Usually, if you find you have a problem with flour beetles, the solution is straightforward: find the food that has the problem and discard it, then thoroughly clean the area and protect other foods
Rust-red flour beetle - Adult elongate 2.3- 4.4mm in length; colour, reddish-brown; antennae with distinct, 3-segmented club at tip; no ridge present above each eye.
Dark flour beetle - Adult elongate, 4.5 -5.75mm long; colour, black or very brown.
Small-eyed flour beetle - Adult elongate, 2.4 – 3mm long; eyes small and round; antennae with no well marked club
Long-headed flour beetle - Adult elongate, 2.75 – 3mm long; colour pale yellow; antennae with compact 5-segmented club
Broad-horned flour beetle - Adult elongate, 3.5 – 4.9mm long, male with conspicuously enlarged, toothless mandibles, broader at the base than near the apex
Slender-horned flour beetle - Adult elongate, 3-4mm long; male with conspicuously enlarged toothless mandibles, slender and curved
Other products which may be effected are oil seed, oil cake, nuts, dried fruit, spices, chocolate and even bones and other animal products. The beetles are not cold hardy so they will only live in heated premises during the winter.
They are active insects that will seek cover if disturbed, and, because they are so small, can exploit the smallest crevice. They are particularly a problems in machinery and where cereal and other food residues accumulate.
When present in large numbers, flour beetles will:
Maybugs gather on the tops of buildings and in undisturbed ground and enter through open windows, doors or down chimneys.
Individual insects can be killed with insect sprays, but if large numbers are present, it may be necessary to use chemical or biological sprays i.e. insecticides to kill the larvae or to remove them by hand. Foraging birds and other diseases may decrease the population, but not as significantly. For chemical and biological sprays, ask at your local garden centre or a pesticide stockist.
To stop maybugs entering your home, cover all windows, doors and chimneys will a fine mesh or material.
They can be purchased at most pet stores and bait shops, and are available at garden centres, pet shops or on the internet. Mealworms typically eat various types of vegetation or dead insects.
In the household, they are attracted to cereals, flour and grain. To destroy an infestation, you must hoover out the area, bake the infested grains in the oven to destroy all stages of the larvae and then dispose of it in the rubbish bin. You may also want to spray an insecticide around the perimeter of your property to stop any further infestations and renew on a regular basis.
To prevent or get rid of the psocids; remove the affected food immediately and dispose of it in an outside dustbin, check everything else in the cupboard removing anything that may contain them particularly flour and other dried goods. Food in cans and bottles will still be all right but do check them for any insects that may be hiding (including under labels). Clean out all dust and crumbs from the cupboard effectively, making sure the cupboard is completely dry. Any objects you suspect may contain psocids or their eggs, which you do not want to throw away, can be placed in a sealed bag in a freezer for 24hrs, this will kill any psocids or their eggs.
Clean the cupboard thoroughly with water and suitable indoor insecticide and most, important, find the cause of the humidity and to cure it.
Signs that silverfish have fed on your belongings include notches, holes and scrapings with irregular shapes usually, seen as marks on wallpaper or yellow stains on your shirts, pants and any types of fabric.
The insects can be bought into your home in boxes, food and books.
To get rid of silverfish, you may need to use insecticides to treat silverfish bought from most hardware stores and to reduce the moisture levels in your home.
Woodworm are seasonal pests and from May to October each year, they can be seen exiting from flooring and roof timbers and can often be found near windows, windowsills or around loft hatches, as they are attracted to light.
Woodworm can cause serious damage to both internal & external timber as well as your home furnishings. If left untreated, they can seriously weaken timber leading to the eventual failure of the structure of a building.
If you spot any of the following signs you may have an active woodworm infestation:
If you think you may have a woodworm infestation, contact an authorised pest contractor for professional advice. If it is confined to a small area, it is possible to treat the problem with a chemical spray, found in DIY shops and garden centres, directly into the holes or to paint over untreated wood.