Family of four forced to eat in their car due to thousands of flying beetles invading Milton Keynes council flat
'It's like something out of a horror film' says exasperated mum
A mum and her children have spent weeks eating meals in their car because their Milton Keynes council flat is infested with tiny flying beetles.
The bugs drop onto their food if they eat in the flat, where the regularly wake up to find their beds smothered in the little brown creatures.
"There are literally thousands of them. As fast as we squash them, more appear. It's absolutely disgusting," said 26-year-old Gemma Smith.
She describes herself as a "clean freak" and is obsessive about keeping the flat clean. But this does not discourage the beetles, which come in through cracks in the balcony wall and woodwork, she says.
Our video shows one of the creatures wriggling through a crack in the building.
The flat is part of the decrepit housing in Serpentine Court, on Bletchley's Lakes Estate. It was agreed more than two years ago that the development should be demolished for new homes to be built - but residents are still waiting to hear when this is actually happen.
"We're stuck here. I'm living with my partner and two children, a boy and a girl, in a two bedroom flat. All four of us have to sleep on a mattress and the sofa in the living room because there are so many beetles in the bedrooms. But the council is refusing to move us," said Gemma.
She says she has also spent months pleading with MK Council to do something about the bug problem, which started suddenly last summer.
"My daughter Kassie, who is nine, woke us up one night with a huge scream. We rushed in and found beetles had been dropping on to her head and woken her up. When I stripped the bed, it was full of them.
"I reported it to the council but when they came out to have a look they admitted they didn't have a clue what the beetles are. They're definitely not bed bugs - they're smaller and they can fly."
Though the species had not been identified, Gemma begged the council to fumigate the flat anyway. But within hours of the fumigation, the creatures were back in their hundreds.
"They crawl out of cracks in the wall, out of light fittings and even out of plug sockets. It's like something out of a horror film," said Gemma.
"I spend all my time obsessively cleaning and trying to get rid of them. My home is spotless but it doesn't make any difference."
Her son Oliver, who is seven, is so paranoid about the creatures, which seem to be attracted to food, that he refuses to eat in the flat.
"At mealtimes I have to prepare the food then quickly take it outside to the car, where we sit and eat it. It's no life at all and my mental health is really suffering," said Gemma, who works as a housekeeper for a local firm.
Recently, in desperation, she caught some of the creatures in a jar and posted them off to bug experts at FlyEvidence.
They identified them as Stegobium paniceum, commonly known as the biscuit beetle or flour beetle because they are so attracted to stored food.
They lay eggs in or around a suitable food sources, including birds nests and old squirrel dreys, and the newly-hatched larvae crawl or chew their way through most packaging materials.
Though they are not particularly dangerous to humans, they will contaminate food sources with themselves, their larvae, and their urine and faeces. A specialist pesticide is needed to eradicate them.
The Citizen has asked MK Council if they are prepared to send a specialist pest control company to Gemma's flat. We've also asked if there is a date for the demolition of Serpentine Court and re-housing of the tenants.
A council spokesman said: "Mears are in contact with the tenant and will be visiting the property tomorrow."