Brechin householders are being warned to look out for signs of bed bugs after an increase in reported problems linked to the insects.
Basis Prompt, which registers qualified pest control technicians, has received a spate of reports about health problems caused by not dealing with the pest effectively.
Bed bugs can survive starvation for up to a year – making them difficult to eradicate. Bites cause red, irritating marks, and in some cases they can lead to severe allergic reactions.
Rob Simpson, managing director at Basis Prompt, said: “The problem isn’t specific to Brechin, but we’ve been hearing about more cases recently where failing to tackle a bed bug infestation has led to the problem spreading and to family members suffering quite serious allergic reactions.
“People used to connect bed bugs to poor hygiene, but in reality it is the rise in international travel and mobility in general that has caused increasing incidents.
“Bed bugs are amazingly hardy and they are extremely tough to find and get rid of. Trying to deal with the infestation yourself is likely to make matters worse – as is using a pest controller who is not properly qualified.”
The bed bug nymphs are small and difficult to see with the naked eye, making it hard to identify an infestation before biting occurs. The adult is about six millimetres long and resembles a brown disc, with well-developed legs allowing it to crawl up vertical objects.
They live close to their human hosts in crevices in furniture, in cracks in the wall or behind skirting boards or wallpaper. They are active mainly at night.
Signs of infestation include red, irritating bites, often in lines around the neck or shoulder, small blood smears on bed linen and clusters of small dark spots on the bed frame or around the edge of the mattress.