Creepy crawly pests
Bite back at the critters and bloodsuckers that could be sharing your place.
The scourge of asthma and eczema sufferers, these tiny creatures enjoy hanging out in mattresses and pillows. Why? Because that's where they feed off the sweat and skin you shed when you're snoring. An average single bed is thought to contain a million mites, but it's the poo pellets they knock out that cause most of the trouble. As the stuff decomposes, it turns to a very fine dust and this is what can trigger respiratory problems.
Bite Back: Wrap your mattress in an airtight bag and regularly boil wash your sheets and pillows. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid temperatures, so keep the bedroom as cool and airy as you can.
Slender but deeply unsexy wingless insects with long antennae and wriggling fish-like bodies. Silverfish thrive in damp, multi-occupancy buildings, and can 'swarm' over floors in cases of chronic infestation.
Bite Back: Main hiding-places for silverfish include grubby kitchens and store cupboards. Keeping these areas dry and spotlessly clean will help prevent infestations.
These bug-eyed beasties are familiar to everyone, but their personal hygiene standards may not be quite so well known. Houseflies feed on anything from left-out food to steaming piles of dog shit, so it doesn't take much to recognise the health hazard they can bring into your house.
Bite Back: Houseflies really get buzzing in warm weather where food sources are plentiful. So keep your grub covered up, your surfaces sparkling, and watch where you're treading.
The mother of all domestic bugs, most kinds of cockroach look like beetles but with longer bodies and antennae. They tend to cluster in warm humid areas such as air ducts and pipe work, and scuttle out after dark to forage for food. The problem is they also tend to contaminate everything they touch, giving rise to all kinds of health risks including serious food poisoning.
Bite Back: If you find cockroaches in your kitchen, contact your landlord, local council, or pest control company. Bait will be set down in the affected area, which foraging cockroaches take back to their nests and pay for with their lives.
Considerably bigger than dust mites, clocking in at a chilling 1/4 inch, but mercifully much less common since housing standards have improved. Still, if you're sharing a hovel with a high turnover of occupants, then they could well be tempted to drop by and say hi. Bed bugs tend to feed when it's dark, piercing your skin while you're sleeping, gorging themselves on blood and then hiding away for 2-3 days to digest its meal.
Bite Back: Cluster spots of dried blood and excrement are a sign that bugs are hiding out somewhere, not to mention the nasty bite marks they leave on your skin. Look in mattress folds and bedspreads, and any cracks or crevices in the base of your bed, headboard or skirting boards. If you suspect an infestation, contact your landlord, local council or pest control company.
A parasitic insect that isn't just confined to skull-cracking kiddiewinks, these blood-sucking scavengers live on the scalp or hair root and spread when an infected head comes into contact with another. Lice breed slowly, so unless they're actually spotted you may not know about them until the itching kicks in - some three months after infestation!
Bite Back: Comb hair regularly, preferably when it's wet. If you suspect you might have head lice then do it over a white sheet to see if any bail out. If so, consult your GP or pharmacist about suitable lice lotion treatments.
Old school ankle biters that feed off warm-blooded animals such as cats and dogs. So if you own a pet then you could well have a problem. Fleas also lay vast numbers of eggs, and these can easily drop off fur and into carpets, bedding and furniture. Once hatched, they'll be quite happy to gorge themselves on human blood, which is why an infestation of fleas can leave your lower limbs speckled in itchy bites.
Bite Back: Cats are the main culprits, and if they're scratching like a three deck DJ, or you find ash-like flecks of flea poo in their pelts, then seek an appropriate treatment from your vet. At the same time, vacuum your house from top to bottom, paying particular attention to Kitty's favourite hang-outs, and repeat the process regularly. Evicting fleas is a slow process, and while insecticide products are available from most hardware stores, it's mainly down to hardcore house cleaning.
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