Two extremely common household pests are the ‘bed bug’ and the ‘carpet beetle’ and it is very easy to make the mistake of assuming you have an infestation of one over the other due to the effect they can have on you and your family.

Both are equally as disruptive to your day-to-day living and should be eradicated as soon as possible. Here, we help provide an explanation on their characteristics and the best methods to ensure your home is free of these nasty little pests.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny, flat bodied, blood-sucking insects that do most of their work at night whilst you are sleeping. They are approximately 5mm long and their colour can vary between dark yellow, red or brown.

A bed bug

Due to their shape and size, they can fit into the smallest places in and around your bed including mattress ribbing, headboards or joints in your bed frame. Due to their reliance on blood, bed bugs are not a sign of dirtiness, they can appear in the most immaculate home or hotel room and although they are a nuisance, they do not transmit diseases.

How do I know if my bed has bed bugs?

Signs and symptoms of beds bugs can be hard to detect at first, but here are a few of the common signs that they are lurking in your home:

1) Red, itchy bites to you skin – predominantly on exposed skin – i.e. arms, ankles, legs

2) Black spots on your mattress (dried faeces)

3) Blood spots on your mattress from either your body or from rolling over and squashing the bug

4) A strong, unpleasant odour is common in large areas of infestation

5) Symptoms of allergies in the night or when you wake up including runny eyes, sneezing or itching

How can I get rid of bed bugs?

Bed bugs can be hard to prevent and once you have an infestation the can be difficult to eradicate altogether. A sensible and popular option is to leave it to the professionals and contact either your local council or a pest control firm. Should you wish to tackle them yourself, here are some top tips:

1) Wash your bed linen on the hottest temperature permitted (above 60C) in order to kill the bed bugs hidden in your sheets

2) Remove all clutter from your bedroom in order to make it easier to find the bed bugs

3) Inspect and disinfect all bedroom furniture, (dismantle if applicable) including all those areas that are not easily accessible. A proportion of bed bugs will be removed using a hoover

4) Remove any furniture from your bedroom that you feel has become heavily infested with bed bugs. You may want to consider investing in a new mattress, especially if you have had yours for a number of years as the bugs will be hard to completely remove from the interior

What are carpet beetles?

Carpet beetles are the smaller of the two pests and have white and yellow-brown scales and tufts of hair on their back and unlike bed bugs that feed on blood, they feed on material substances such as carpets, upholstered furniture, blankets, coats and pillows. The beetles don’t actually bite you but they can also cause a red itchy rash due to an allergic reaction from the prickly little hairs on the carpet beetle larvae.

A carpet beetle

How do I know if my carpet has carpet beetles?

Similar to bed bugs, carpet beetles are drawn to particular areas in your home and although extremely small in size, there are common signs that lead to an increased probability that these pests have infiltrated your home.

1) They are drawn to areas of darkness (e.g. A closet, attic) so check these locations first. Don’t forget to look under your carpets and underneath furniture

2) Faecal pellets and shed skins are a common sign that you have carpet beetles

3) You will start to notice holes and damage to your carpet fabric

How can I get rid of carpet beetles?

If left untreated, carpet beetles can rapidly multiply causing damage throughout your household. Therefore it is vitally important you keep on-top of your housekeeping and look out for any of their common signs. Here are some top tips to help ensure you keep these pesky pests to a minimum and eradicate them from your carpets and other household textiles:

1) Vacuum your carpet regularly to get rid of larva and beetle eggs

2) Remove and throw away any heavily infested garments i.e. rugs or blankets

3) Washing items in hot, soapy water will get rid of the beetles, their larva and their eggs

4) Apply insecticide to those infested areas if safe to do so

5) Store fur, leather and other susceptible items in tightly sealed containers that are insect-proof

6) If your carpet is very heavily infested, it might be worth considering a new carpet. Or why not consider other flooring options such as vinyl or laminate, which are much less likely to breed pesky pests.

Bed bugs and carpet beetles are unwanted household pests that if left untreated, will quickly take over your house and cause significant damage. Although they both go after very different things, they both give off clear signs that they are carrying out their work so our advice is to keep on top of your household chores, look out for these signs and follow our top tips for preventing them infiltrating your household.

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