Blood-thirsty bedbugs have made family life a "living nightmare" for a family-of-six suffering sleepless nights and itchy bites in their pest-infested home.

The semi-detached house in Church Road, Mitcham, is riddled with the bugs, which have nested in cots, sofas and under the wallpaper.

Wandsworth Times:

Bedbugs feed on human blood like mosquitoes 

Single mum Clare Knight, who has lived in the house for 17 years, said she has tried sprays, steaming, smoke bombs and burning furniture, but nothing will exterminate the blood-sucking bugs which arrived last May.

She said: "It's awful. We were waking up in the middle of the night itching, put the light on and see these little black things running about.

"It started out just a few. Then we realised what they were and we contacted the housing association and said what was going on and they sent someone round, but it seemed to get worse.

"I have been to the doctor, I have been to the health visitor who was disgusted at how we have to live like this."

Miss Knight lives in the three-bedroom house with her daughter Cara, one, and granddaughter Layla, three.

She said she had to burn Cara's wooden cot when it became overrun with bed bugs.

She replaced it with a travel cot but two weeks later the replacement was also riddled with the bugs.

Her daughter, 25, son, 20 and his 18-year-old girlfriend, also live at the house.

London and Quadrant (L&Q) housing association, which owns the house, sent pest-controllers to treat the property in July, but failed to exterminate them.

An L&Q spokesman said: "We appreciate that Miss Knight is experiencing a pest problem, however our tenancy agreements make it clear that infestations within a property are the responsibility of the tenant.

"We did treat the property in July as a one-off, goodwill gesture, but Miss Knight has since notified us that pests have returned."

"We have agreed to contact the neighbours to see if they are experiencing similar issues."

Miss Knight, a part-time receptionist at Birds Solicitors in Wandsworth, said she has seen the bugs coming under the skirting boards.

She said: "I called for a quote and was told just to treat three rooms would cost me over £1,000. I can't believe how L&Q have left us to live.

"They will not move me as I have rent arrears and do not move people just because of bed bugs. I'm not asking for a mansion I just want a home that is suitable for me and my family to live in."

Wandsworth Times:

Family trauma: Cara (one), Clare Knight and Layla (three)


- Bedbugs feed on human blood like mosquitoes.

- A single pregnant bedbug can create an infestation of thousands within weeks.

- Forecasters predicted a big increase this winter due to the wet, mild weather.

- Bedbugs don't choose a dirty home over a clean one - they just care about blood.

- Resistance to insecticides and increase in travel have fuelled the bedbug increase.