How To Check If You Have Bedbugs As Experts Warn Infestation Has Hit The UK

The creatures are on the rise in student accommodation and can cause itchy bites, but here's how to stop getting an infestation...

Written byEric Blair
Published on
Read time4 min read

You might have heard that there’s a bit of a bed bug ‘epidemic’ currently taking place, with serious infestations reported in Paris, with many people now worried about the pests making their way over to the UK.

Well firstly we have some bad news for you - while they may not be at the levels being discovered across the Channel, they are very much here already, with bed bugs in student accommodation on the rise according to PestUK

While this isn’t great news, it does mean that students should be aware of how to protect themselves from these pests - and there are plenty of steps you can take to make sure you don’t end up with an infestation!

How do you know if you have bed bugs?


You’ll probably see some bites, which can be itchy and are often found in a line. There may be some blood on your bedding, either from a bite or a squashed bed bug that recently fed.

You may also find some brown marks too, which unfortunately are likely to be bed bug poo.

As for the bed bugs themselves, adults are about five millimetres long and brown, looking a bit like an apple pip, while the eggs are about one millimetre long and white.

How can you avoid getting bed bugs?

If you’re moving into a new place, PestUk say you should do the following before you unpack your belongings:

  • Inspect your room – check around the bed frame and mattress for any signs of blood spots on the bed line, headboard or on the bottom side of the mattress.

  • Using a mattress protector especially designed to inhibit bed bugs is always a good idea for student accommodation.

  • Keep your room clean, and don’t leave dirty laundry lying around on the floor. Clutter on the floor can be a good nesting area for bed bugs.

Speaking to Sky News, bed bug expert David Cain from company Bed Bugs Limited, warned: "If you don't get into that disciplined practice of checking once a month, there will come a day when you tip your mattress up and there's going to be maybe 5,000 or 6,000 bed bugs looking back at you.”

If you want something a bit more sophisticated, you can get a bed bug monitor that fits to your mattress to let you know if any of the bugs are present.

What do I do if I have bed bugs?


If you do spot any, the most important thing is not to panic.

PestUK say: “As soon as you suspect there are bed bugs, alert your landlord, agent or the university staff. The important thing is not to be embarrassed. It is likely that they were there before you arrived and a combined effort is needed to get rid of them.”

If you found out quickly, you can sometimes get rid of them by vacuuming and washing bedding and clothes on a hot wash, but if the problem is more advanced you’ll probably need to get someone in.

The NHS advises getting a pest control company in to help with the infestation, and if you're living in rented accommodation, contact your landlord, council, or housing association.

According to Cain, there are three common mistakes to avoid. He says not to use aerosol-based insecticide, a fogger, or to throw away the mattress/furniture altogether as it can simply transfer them to another bit of furniture.

How do you get rid of bed bugs?


If you do have to call in the professionals, PestUk technicians will use a residual insecticide sprayed onto the floors, walls, ceilings and the bed frames and mattresses to get rid of them.

However, they recommend first removing and washing all bed sheets and curtains and hoovering and cleaning any rooms that need treating. 

You’ll need to empty all your drawers and wardrobes and only bring your clothes back in once they have been washed or tumble dried. 

They also add that the treatment will fail if the room is full of clutter - so you’ll also have to have a clear out, with any objects in the room that cannot be either washed, tumble dried or sprayed with the insecticide (books, shoes, etc) put in a freezer overnight!

Can I get ill from bed bug bites?

Bed bug bites aren’t known to cause disease, but you can treat them with antihistamines, by using steroid cream, or even something cold will help.

The real trick is to not get the bed bugs in the first place of course!

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