Bed bug infestations can be hard to spot making it difficult to know what’s bitten you in the first place.
The insects are very small – approximately 5mm long – and usually hide in mattresses, within bed frames and behind loose wallpaper.
To identify a bed bug bite look out for itchy red bumps, often in lines across the skin.
Bed bugs can be sensitive to temperature change, so how can you get rid of an infestation during winter – will they die in the cold?
Pest control company Orkin advises that pests cannot be eliminated simply by turning off heaters in winter. Likewise sitting infested items outdoors will not work.
Only extreme temperatures beyond what can be achieved naturally will get rid of bed bugs.
It explains: “Using freezing cold temperatures to kill bed bugs is one option.
“Put an infested object, such as bedding or pillows, in a sealed plastic bag, then put it in a freezer zero degrees Fahrenheit for about four days.”
Similar, extreme heat can kill bed bugs.
It says: “A similar process can be used with heat. Adult bed bugs die at 119 degrees Fahrenheit, and their heat-resistant eggs require temperatures upwards of 125 degrees.
“Some infested objects can be safely baked in the oven at these temperatures of three to five hours to get rid of the pests.
“Safety should always be considered in deciding whether to treat in this manner.
“Frozen carbon dioxide sprays and heat distribution systems exist but require special equipment and expert monitoring.”
But extreme temperature is only best if bed bugs are in limited numbers.
If you have a large bed bug infestation you’ll likely need professional help to eliminate an infestation completely.
There are a number of methods you can carry out yourself in the meantime to help the problem.
First, wash infested clothes or bed linen at 60C or put them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes.
Next, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose to suck up any bugs you can see. Proceed to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag.
Consider throwing away any mattress or furniture that’s heavily infested.
Use plastic mattress covers that encase the entire mattress – this will stop any bed bugs getting in or out.
If you’re looking to prevent bed bug infestations, make sure to inspect your mattress and bed regularly for signs of an infestation and get professional advice if you think you have bed bugs.
Avoid buying second-hand mattresses and carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.
Finally, keep your bedroom tidy and remove clutter.