Bed Bugs have made a noticeable and significant comeback in recent years, and most of you will have been involved in a bed bug job, or heard about a colleague doing one this year. In contrast, they were a rarity only ten years ago, and the few jobs we had were for homes and hospitals, not the hotels which are plagued now.

Ironically the figures collated annually by local authority pest control departments show either a decline or a static position from year to year right through the nineties to the present day. This suggests it is a commercial (i.e. hotels) problem and not especially a domestic one. The problem is growing in London hotels quicker than most places, but is also evident in hotels and hostels in other cities throughout the UK.

Many reasons for the increase are given, but none are proven. An increase in visitors from the Eastern Block countries, since borders opened up ten years ago, and an increase in holiday visits to those countries from the UK, global warming gets blamed for everything so let’s not shy away from that one, a reduction in pesticide spraying since baits were introduced for cockroaches in the early nineties, a reduction in cleanliness, a greater use of central laundry suppliers, and so on. The fact is that no one can be sure why they are here, only that they are, and we are in the thick of dealing with them. The next few pages look at the species involved, and after that we will deal with treatment.

Common Names
Cimex lectularius Bug, Bed Bug, Mahogany Flats, Wall Louse, Crimson Ramblers, Norfolk Howards

Associations
Man, poultry, mice, rats, pigeons Secondary hosts: Swallow, jackdaw, starling, magpie


This species is basically the temperate and sub-tropical climate bed bug. In 1965 they were found infesting bats in a cave in Afghanistan, and successfully crossed with man-infesting bugs in the USA. It is now believed that the origin of spread onto man as a host goes all the way back to cave dwelling in Africa. It is distributed worldwide in the temperate and sub-tropical zones.

Bites 
Most people react in some way to the bite, which is a red blotch without the central red spot you get with flea bites. Bites on the face and neck can be more serious, but usually because people scratch these, introducing bacteria into the bite area from their fingernails.

Disease
There is no evidence that bed bugs can transmit disease, although tropical bed bugs have been found to carry Hepatitis B for short periods. In practice, and especially in the UK, there is no disease association.