Bedbugs

How they spread

Like many cities, London faces an increase in bedbugs. It can be difficult to avoid them as they can be transported easily and picked up on public transport or in hotel rooms.

Once introduced into your home or a hotel bedbugs spread easily from room to room. Bedbugs feed on blood but can survive for up to a year without feeding. They are not attracted to dirt, so a bedbug infestation is not a sign of an unclean home or hotel.

The bugs can be transported in luggage, clothing, furniture and bedding from one building to another. This makes is easy for tourists and commuters to unknowingly spread bedbugs.

Health hazards

Bedbugs are not regarded as disease carriers and are not dangerous, but their bites can cause severe itchy spots in some people.

How to spot them

High standards of hygiene and house-keeping are unlikely to control bedbugs, but they will reveal their presence early, making control easier.

If you suspect bedbugs in your home, look closely at the bed, the mattress around the seams and the back of the headboard. If you see black spots, this could be their dried faeces. Also look for mottled shells that bedbugs may have shed.

Check your sheets for blood spots where you may have rolled over and squashed a bug just after it had fed.

Launder infested bedding (e.g. sheets) and clothing at 60 degrees or put it in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes to kill the bugs.

Getting help

It can be extremely difficult to get rid of bedbugs from your home or hotel. Use a professional pest controller – the use of insecticides is a job for the experts. You can contact our pest control team for free advice. Our treatment charges and contact details are below.

Get information on fees and charges on our pest control homepage.

Contact details

Call us on 020 8753 1081 or email environmentalprotection@lbhf.gov.uk.

Or you can contact a pest control firm that is a member of the British Pest Control Association (check the credentials of the company first) for advice.

Treating bedbug bites

Many people do not react to bedbug bites or only have the odd spot so you may not need treatment. If you develop itchy bumps, your GP may prescribe mild steroid cream or your pharmacist can recommend antihistamine tablets. The hard, whitish swellings take up to nine days to appear and then your skin should clear up within a week.

Further information

The British Pest Control Association is a not-for-profit organisation which acts for the pest management industry within the UK.

The Greater London Pest Liaison Group has produced bedbug control good practice guides to improve the detection and control of bedbug infestations in London.

NHS Choices has information on identifying and treating bedbug infestation and bites.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has produced a Pest Control Procedures Manual.