Friday, 8 Dec 2023

The UK’s bed bug hotspots as invasion spreads

TikToker shares how to check hotel room for bed bugs

A woman has received compensation from Premier Inn after claiming an overnight stay at its Hastings hotel in August left her covered in bed bug bites.

Vicky Hills said she left out of pocket after having to buy new bedding, bug traps and medication. The chain apologised and said it was glad to have sorted the issue.

It is the latest in an alarming spate of reported encounters with the creatures. It all started with a late-summer infestation in Paris –  where deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire warned “no one is safe” – but returning travellers from Fashion Week and the Rugby World Cup are believed to have brought them over to the UK.

Across the country, the number of Google searches for “bed bugs” increased almost fourfold in October, relative to the previous month.

Some areas, however, have been found to be far more concerned about the creepy crawlies than others. Check Express.co.uk’s map to see how high bed bug fears are running near you.

READ MORE: Expert says bedbug crisis ‘getting worse’ as Britons urged to freeze duvets

Across the country, search volumes tend to reflect the seasonality of the insects – lowest in the cold months of January and February and rising to a peak in August and September. This year, however, October took the top spot.

And nowhere more so than in London, where pest control firms claim they have been “inundated” with calls. At a local level, Purley, south of Croydon, emerged as the country’s bed bug capital.

Google stats show around 80,000 searches for the term “bed bugs” in the past 30 days across the UK, with the rate among Purley residents highest of all.

The town of Belvedere in the London Borough of Bexley came second, with a relative search volume of 89, tied with West Drayton in Hillingdon.

As the UK’s international travel hub, it comes as little surprise that the capital is more weary of bed bugs arriving from abroad than anywhere else.

Notoriously difficult to eradicate, the insects can hitch a ride on clothing and suitcases and are all too easily transferred to public transport seats.

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After a video of a suspicious bug on the London Underground went viral recently, Mayor Sadiq Khan came out and said their infiltration on the transport network was a “real source of concern”.

Of the 16 areas identified by Google Trends as having high search volume for “bed bugs”, just two were outside of London: Hale Barns in Greater Manchester and Colchester in Essex.

Dr Richard Naylor, director at the Bed Bug Foundation, said the problem has been aggravated by the insects’ development of resistance to insecticides.

He suggested a good way of avoiding bedbugs is to keep “bags off the bed and away from the bed” when visiting hotels and hospitals.

Although their bites are usually harmless, they are itchy and cause unpleasant red rashes – the psychological impact, however, can be far more severe. With an average lifespan of four to six months, their presence can result in stress, anxiety and sleep loss.

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