Many of us think of bed bugs as a problem which was eradicated from the developed world many decades ago. Others imagine they are only to be found in dirty and squalid living conditions. In reality, neither of these characterisations is accurate.
A bed bug is just as happy in a clean London home as a dirty one, and since they are very talented at hiding themselves away in the daytime, they may persist even when a home is regularly and thoroughly cleaned. What is more, bed bug infestations have been on the rise in London and other developed world cities in recent years, and the complete removal of these pests can sometimes prove trickier than you would imagine.
Easy international travel and centrally heated homes which remain warm all year round have led to the reintroduction of the bug to many European cities. The Latin name for the common bed bug is Cimex lectularius. These tiny insects hide in warm, dark places, and feed on human blood while their hosts are asleep. It is for this reason they are often found in beds, and may hide in the folds of mattresses, and inside bedsprings and headboards.
They have also been found in bedside furniture, under skirting boards, and even in seats on public transport. Effective removal of a bed bug infestation is very difficult once a colony has become established. Pesticides which were historically used to kill the insects are no longer effective as modern strains have become resistant to them. And while some other insect species, such as ants, are natural enemies of the bed bug, using them in a domestic situation may just result in swapping one infestation for another.
How would you know if your London home had a bed bug infestation? Finding the insects to be present in significant numbers is one obvious clue. You may spot them when looking inside beds, or under mattresses or other items in the bedroom. Or you may detect their characteristic smell, which has been described as similar to that of rotten raspberries. Another clue to the presence of these pests is if you suffer persistent skin rashes or blisters, although not everyone is allergic to bed bug bites.
As you can imagine, this issue is a headache for householders, and can be a big problem for owners of hotels and B&Bs. It is important to remember that the removal of all the adult insects from your London property does not constitute removal of the colony. Bed bug eggs and larvae can be hidden in the tiniest of crevices, and as they mature they can go for several months between feeds.
The accepted current process for the complete removal of Cimex lectularius is a dry steam treatment as available from MR Pest Control of London. This treatment involves using superheated steam and non toxic chemicals to treat effected areas, killing all the pests at any stage of their development. For more information please see the MR Pest Control website.