A decade ago, the bed bug was virtually unknown in the UK, perhaps remembered as something that our grandparents had, along with lice and rodents that have now been eradicated. When you think of bed bugs, you think of families in small, terraced houses. Even the UK’s postwar treatment for these bugs suggested a close link between infestation and poverty or lack of cleanliness. However, recent findings suggest that bed bugs are now again on the rise, and that there is very little you can do to stop them.
Global Travelling to Blame?
Many people have pointed to the rise in global travel as one of the prime causes of bed bug infestation. The theory says that if you go abroad and, for example, sleep in a hotel that has bed bugs, then your own home in the UK will eventually be infested with them. Most experts, however, suggest that this is just a myth, and that the majority of travellers abroad will not bring back bugs – they would have to infest clothes or luggage, and then be transported across seas or through the air before being deposited in a UK home completely unharmed.
Another alternative is that the source of contamination is public transport. Some pest control experts will suggest that people should not sit down on buses in order to reduce their chances of contamination. This might be over-cautious, as the chances of infestation are limited from this source alone. While you could get some nasty fleabites from padded surfaces, for example, an infestation of fleas is not common. The same principle means that public transport is not likely to be the reason why bed bugs are seen so frequently – they may be causing occasional outbreaks, but not enough to be the source of the dramatic rise that pest- controllers are seeing.
Multiple Sources Indicated
The tendency to blame one source as the location for the problem is perhaps ignoring the fact that these bugs can be spread in a multitude of ways, and have shown themselves to be particularly adept at finding new ways to infest houses. Rather than being able to point to a single source, for example that holiday in France or that coach trip to the Lakes, it is more likely that the infestation has occurred through a combination of things, such as:
- A rise in travel, even in the same country
- Warm conditions established by central heating
- Lack of identification and treatment of bed bug infestation, leading to the bugs being transferred by sufferers
- Increasing numbers of rental properties and house sales leading to furniture being moved more often than in the past
- Reduction in the use of insecticides and powerful home cleaners, meaning that bed bugs are not killed through cleaning
All of these causes are assisting bed bugs in their increase, and so it is important to treat bed bugs as soon as they are spotted. Check bedding and furniture for bed bugs and call out pest control if you suspect an infestation.
Tony Bond is the Founder of Essex Pest Control who have a team of pest control experts and operate through Essex and East London.