CHEMICAL resistant bed bugs are causing sleepless nights as pest controllers deal with a huge increase in call outs to tackle the tiny bloodsuckers.

According to Rentokil, infestations have almost doubled in the last couple of years and Swindon pest controller Wayne Rushworth says he has been kept busy killing bugs that have survived chemical treatments.

“This year from about April I’ve had a good 50 per cent increase in call outs," he said.

"That’s really because people are becoming more and more aware of the resistance to chemicals.”

As well as causing itchy bites, infestations are causing distress and embarrassment to householders.

“It can be quite emotional for some," he said.

"People associate it with dirt and things like that which is simply not true. It is a bit about luck.

“Bed bugs really don’t discriminate. They are happy just to feed off anybody.

"You could go on holiday to Barbados, go into a hotel room and one could hop into your bag.”

He also took issue with the suggestion that the rise in reports was down to a warm start to October creating perfect conditions for them to thrive.

“Bed bugs are happy to live at most room temperatures whether that’s 15 or 25 degrees," he said.

Wayne put the increase down to more people travelling and more people having to share properties.

He said he was being called out when do-it-yourself attempts to treat infestations with over the counter chemicals failed.

“You can make the problem worse by using chemicals,” he said.

Advice to wash bed linen at least once a week on a hot wash was of little use in dealing with it.

“Bed bugs are unlikely to be living on the bedsheets - they are more likely to be living in the headboard, bed base or bedside cabinets,” he said.

That's because they prefer little nooks and crannies in which to live and socialise, he says.

However, washing bedlinen frequently, vacuuming the mattress and behind the headboard would mean more opportunities to spot signs of an infestation, like blood spots and cast off skins.

Getting rid of the mattress also risks spreading the tiny pests elsewhere in the house. As do sprays and chemical smoke bombs.

Wayne, whose firm Pest24 uses a heat treatment to kill off the bugs, added: “Chemicals don’t kill the eggs and at normal room temperature in 10-14 days they will hatch.”

He urged anyone who suspects an infestation to contact professional pest controllers rather than attempt DIY methods.

Current advice to travellers is to wash and – where possible – tumble dry clothes at over 60 degrees as soon as they return home.

A spokeswoman for Swindon Borough Council said: “The council no longer provides pest control services, so we are unable to say whether there has been a recent increase in cases of bed bugs in homes in the borough.

“Second-hand furniture, particularly items such as sofas and beds, and hotel rooms can present increased risk of this problem.

"Fortunately, the issue can be resolved with treatment through accredited pest control providers, although it can take several treatments to fully eradicate the bugs.”