FAMILIES in Inverness are distraught as they face another year of carpet beetle infestations.
Raigmore Estate residents have been dealing with the critters for four years, finding them crawling in bed with their children and in their hair even after their homes have been fumigated and deep cleaned.
Now one mother wants people to know about the pests and her ongoing battle to rid her home of carpet beetles.
Lauren Graham (25) says she feels trapped in her situation. Following letters from her midwife and doctor, pest control are not allowed to keep fumigating her flat while she is pregnant for fear that the harsh chemicals could harm her unborn child.
She claims that many neighbours in King Duncan’s Road have had the same issues.
The larvae of carpet beetles are commonly known as woolly bears and according to the British Pest Control Association have "outstripped the moth" as the worst British textile pest. The adults can access the building through crevices or through old clothes and carpets entering the house. The larvae feed on textiles.
The pest controllers have placed traps on windowsills in an attempt to attract the insect, but Miss Graham claims the flying pests avoid them.
The council have also offered to come and deep clean her house, something that Miss Graham finds offensive as she previously worked for an Inverness cleaning firm and does not believe that the problem lies with the cleanliness of her flat.
The critters are now causing Miss Graham anxiety – her hands are red and raw from a constant cycle of cleaning, finding the insects, cleaning again and constantly scratching while she knows that there are insects living in her home.
"Finding one in my hair was it, I am so sick of them I want out," she said: "This has been going on for four years now and it feels like I am 10 steps back. I have 15 weeks before my due date and I have no idea what to do."
Miss Graham and her partner Ross Grant (22) have lived in Inverness all their life. They had never heard of the issue before.
Neighbours have also had their flats fumigated. Cairan Macleod, another parent in the building, said: "I also have had bugs infesting the flat for the past four years. They are mainly in the kitchen which is awful and throughout the soft furnishings including my children’s beds."
Both women know of another family who left the building following a battle with carpet beetles.
Similar to midges and ticks it is predicted that this could be a bumper year for carpet beetles as a mild winter stopped hibernating larvae from dying off.
The process of fumigation involves the family leaving the house for a minimum of four hours before returning to deep clean to remove any leftover chemicals.
Miss Graham said: "I had to disinfect for my little boy. This happened five times within two years.
"At one point he was six months old and we had to be out all day then I had to get on my knees and scrub every surface."
Miss Graham and her partner redecorated their flat after their most recent fumigation having been assured that the problem was dealt with, but the insects have returned regardless of her constant cleaning.
The council are considering moving the family from the building before taking away all skirting and woodwork from the flat in a bid to find the source of the insects.
A Highland Council spokeswoman confirmed that there are two council homes in the Raigmore area with pest control issues.
The council has a contract for pest control services and in the past 12 months it has been used 174 times. This follows reports of various pests including wasps, ants and carpet beetles.