PEST controllers will be returning to a Southampton block of flats for a fifth time next week as council chiefs pledged to beat the bed bugs.

As revealed in yesterday's Daily Echo , the lives of residents at Milner Court in Shirley have been made a misery for the last two months after a colony of the creepy crawlies moved in.

Last night city council bosses confirmed that fumigators would be going in yet again next Wednesday to treat ten flats believed to be at the centre of the outbreak.

If that doesn't work more drastic measures will be taken to win the battle of the bugs.

This could include seeing skirting boards ripped off, plug sockets stripped and bed frames dismantled to ensure the sneaky creatures have no place to hide.

Pest controllers will also meet with the housing officers this Thursday to discuss how residents can help to assist with the process, including the treatment of some second hand furniture which has been identified as a possible source of the bugs.

So far it has cost the council £2,500 to fumigate the block of around 60 flats, which has only recently benefitted from a £1m refurbishment but residents are still waking up to find the bugs crawling on their walls and into their beds.

Some residents have even been left with a series of bites all over their bodies, as the bugs refuse to give up despite the use of three different chemicals to attack them.

To help keep costs down, the council are working on internal rates instead of commercial rates, which would have cost up to £10,000.

The last spray treatment was last week and each spray must be two weeks apart to allow the chemicals to work. Residents have also been advised not to vacuum as that would remove the chemicals from the carpets.

A council spokesperson said: “We really are working hard to tackle this unfortunate problem but we are confident that the matter will soon be eradicated.

“We do understand how difficult and distressing it is for the residents and if the fifth fumigation isn't judged to have worked, more action will be taken. It is a war but we are determined to win it.”