Bed Bug Epidemic
Britain is under threat from the bed bug – an insect that was once almost completely eradicated from our shores in the 1950s, but is now back with avengeance.
An epidemic of bedbugs is sweeping the nation, fuelled by air travel and warmer summers leading to the number of infestations soaring by 500 per cent in the last two years.
Cities such as Cambridge and Peterborough have taken the brunt of the epidemic because of the large number of people on the move every day.
The increase is largely attributed to the huge expansion in air travel, coupled with global warming, which has brought millions of bed bugs into the country on travellers’ clothes and in their suitcases.
Bedbugs are red and brown in colour and are about the same size as an apple pip. They feed on human blood by piercing the skin, sucking up four times their own body weight in 15 minutes. The insects, whose bites cause itching, were virtually eradicated in the 1950s, but now we are seeing a surge in the number of calls from homes with bed bug infestations.
Many people think the spread of bedbugs is caused by bad hygiene – but that’s a common misconception. Dirty houses will make infestations harder to remove, but they are actually spread by many of the richer people in society because they travel more. They are also spread on public transport because people sit very close to each other, so you need to be a little cautious when sitting down.
If people’s homes are badly hit, they’ll carry bed bugs on their clothes. If they sit on public transport, they’ll leave the bugs behind when they get up and the next person will get a dose.
Bedbugs are notoriously hard to spot because they hide in mattresses or in cracks in flooring or walls and come out to feed between 1am and 5am. And we advise vacuuming mattresses and cleaning regularly to keep them at bay.
What is clear is that it is imperative to get this epidemic under control before the bed bug population spirals any further.