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” Bedbugs are booming: Bloodsucker invades 24% more homes “

Britain is facing a pandemic of bedbugs that could leave millions of homes infested. The number of properties invaded by the biting parasites has shot up by nearly a quarter in the past year alone as we find out from pest control. The soaring population follows a major epidemic in the United States, where the insects are a bigger problem now than at any time since the Second World War.

Unstoppable? Bedbugs can move through all cavities. The number of properties in Britain infested with the parasites has increased dramatically during the last year Pest Control London fear the crisis will worsen in 2012 when millions of bugs hitch a lift in the luggage and clothing of visitors flying to the London Olympics. Bedbugs are becoming more of a pest problem in this country and around the world. New York is experiencing a serious infestation. A recent international survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky suggests the world is on the verge of a bedbug pandemic.

Contrary to common belief, bedbugs are visible to the naked eye – adults are around a fifth of an inch long. Before feeding they are a flattened oval shape and light brown, but after a blood meal, they swell up to become rounder and darker. Bugs usually enter homes on clothing, in luggage or in second-hand furniture. They can also move between homes through wall and floor cavities. Pest Control Services controllers say it is difficult to get rid of the invaders without professional help, although good standards of hygiene, deep cleaning and over-the-counter pesticides can help. Numbers of bedbugs declined in the 1980s and 1990s and scientists are unsure why they are making a comeback. Some believe it is linked to the growth of international travel. Hotels and hostels are notorious hotspots throughout the world. But there are also concerns that the creature is growing resistant to pesticides. Earlier this year, the National Pest Technicians Association said bedbugs were its biggest concern. Telltale signs of an infestation include small blood spots on sheets, stains caused by droppings and a distinctive sweet and sickly smell.

Parasite that feeds at night

Bedbugs feed on the blood of humans. They inject anaesthetic to numb the pain and an anti-clotting agent to keep the blood flowing. The bites do not hurt, but they can trigger itching. Multiple bites can cause a rash or eczema. They stay close to their food source and live in cracks and crevices close to beds. Their favourite haunts are seams of mattresses, crevices in bed frames, behind furniture surrounding the bed, headboards, and where the wall meets the floor. They also live in bedding, carpets, underlay, under skirting boards, between floorboards and inside electrical sockets. They come out mostly at night and are attracted to the warmth of bodies, and carbon dioxide from breath. They are not thought to transmit disease. Neck, hands, arms and legs are common sites for bed bug bites. The most common source of infestation is from hotels where bugs get into clothing and luggage and return home. An adult can live for more than a year between feeds. Females lay one or two eggs every day – and can lay hundreds in a lifetime.

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