Pest experts are warning landlords of bedbug threat.
Landlords are being warned of a potential explosion in the population of bedbugs as students return for the new academic year.
Pest control experts are predicting a dramatic rise in the number of infestations as shared accommodation can present ideal conditions for the parasites.
They’re putting owners of student houses on red alert and say any indication of a potential problem should never be ignored.
Problems with bedbugs, which feed on human blood and often leave irritating bite marks, have become far more common over the last decade or so.
The increase in numbers is thought to be at least partly down to the rapid growth of multiple-occupancy premises.
So Rob Simpson, managing director of independent pest controllers register BASIS PROMPT, is urging landlords to be vigilant.
He said: “Shared accommodation and particularly houses that are crowded can create the perfect environment for bedbug infestations to thrive and spread.
“They live in mattresses, bed frames, furniture near the bed and also hide behind headboards or in cracks around skirting boards. They can move through properties through wall and floor cavities and also find their way into clothing or luggage.
“Often, the first time people know about it is when they wake up with a rash which can be itchy for days.”
Infestations of bedbugs are thought to have been on the rise for around 10 or 15 years with immigration, second-hand furniture and second-hand clothes pinpointed as other possible causes. Growing tolerance to pesticides could also be an issue.
The insects, which are about 6mm long, feed at night and often leave little or no trace other than bite marks which can leave small specs of blood on sheets and pillows.
They live in mattresses, bed frames, furniture near the bed and also hide behind headboards or in cracks around skirting boards. They can move through properties through wall and floor cavities.
Each female lays between 200 and 500 eggs which hatch within 17 days.
Treatment of an infestation is complicated and is a job for the professionals, according to Mr Simpson.
He added: “Getting rid of bedbugs is notoriously difficult because they live and lay eggs in the cracks of bed frames and skirting boards or burrow inside mattresses.
“Most normal insecticides won’t kill the eggs and, while people might think the problem has gone away, fresh eggs can soon hatch.
“The best advice as soon as you suspect an infestation is to bring in an expert controller who’ll use their experience and know-how to get rid of the problem once and for all.
“If people try to deal with issues themselves or call in unqualified help, problems could get out of hand.
“It’s easy to get out of your depth when trying to control pests of all kinds, but particularly bedbugs as their treatment is so specialised.
“I would urge people to use a member of the BASIS PROMPT register, so they’re assured safe, effective and legal treatment.”