Greater London is the UK’s Bed Bug Capital New Research Suggests

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  • The equivalent of c. 2.97% of London’s population searched in Google for bed bug help in the past 12 months
  • Leicester and Manchester recorded the second and third highest number of bed bug searches per capita in the past 12 months

  • Of Britain’s 20 biggest cities, Wakefield reported the lowest percentage of bed bug rates per capita.

According to new research conducted by Crawley-based commercial pest control business, Merlin Environmental, London (including greater London) holds the dubious honour of being the UK’s bed bug capital. With as many as 2.97% of the population –266,400 – searching for bed bug solutions throughout 2021, there appears to be more cases of bed bugs per capita in this area than anywhere else in the UK.

But while this might not come as a surprise, given that London is the UK’s largest city by population, the other areas most affected by bed bugs might. Leicester is far from the UK’s second-largest city, yet the research suggests it has the second-largest per capita bed bug problem, with an equivalent of 2.95% of the population searching in Google for information and help with bed bugs over the past 12 months – very close behind London. Manchester, the UK’s 6th most populated city, took third place, with close to an equivalent of 2% of the population searching in Google for ‘bed bugs’.

Of the UK’s 20 largest cities, Wakefield had the smallest number of ‘bed bugs’ searches per capita, with only an equivalent of 0.49% of the population conducting searches. While Cardiff – the most populous city in Wales – was only slightly worse off, with the equivalent of 0.61% of the population searching for help with bed bug problems.

The complete list of the UK’s 20 largest cities, ordered according to bed bug searches per capita is as follows:

 

City

Equivalent % of population searching each year for ‘Bed bugs’

Greater London

2.97%

Leicester

2.95%

Manchester

2.82%

Bristol

2.57%

Birmingham

2.51%

Glasgow

2.49%

Liverpool

2.42%

Newcastle upon Tyne

2.36%

Nottingham

2.14%

Edinburgh

2.06%

Leeds

1.97%

Sheffield

1.81%

Wolverhampton

1.78%

Belfast

1.73%

Coventry

1.57%

Plymouth

1.46%

Sunderland

1.12%

Bradford

1.07%

Cardiff

0.61%

Wakefield

0.49%

 

These figures were reached by combining city-level population data with city level search volume data from Google to identify which city had the biggest per capita bed bug issue over the past 12 months.

Merlin Environmental Founder, Adam Juson, comments: ‘There has been a lot of speculation – and evidence to support it – that bed bug infestations have been on the rise in the UK since the start of the pandemic. With the majority of cases being linked to public transport.

‘We conducted this research to identify any potential patterns of bed bug hotspots. The fact that most Londoners rely on public transport to get about can probably account for the high number of searches for bed bug solutions in this area. But with Leicester relying on public transport no more than the people of Birmingham, Liverpool, or Coventry, it can’t be the only contributing factor.

‘Bed bugs are notoriously easy to pass around, and DIY control methods are not the most effective. So, if people suspect that they have a bed bug infestation, we’d recommend seeking professional pest control support.’

How do you know if you have bed bugs?

If this story has got you itching for more info, here are 3 -5 signs you might have bed bugs:

  • Itchy bites that usually appear at night – Keep finding clusters of small red lumps on your body that become itchy after a few hours? Bed bugs could be the culprit.

  • Bed bugs – carefully peal back sheets and duvets, section by section and looks for the little critters crawling around. Always check the nooks and crannies in your mattress, and in particular check the seams and mattress piping. Fully grown bed bugs are the size of a little apple seed, infant bed bugs are a lot smaller, so you need search regularly and thoroughly.

  • Blood spots on sheets, clothes, and furnishings – Bed bugs are messy eaters, and often leave blood spots behind when they finish feeding.

  • Excrement – What goes in must come out! Look out for tiny dark streaks on your mattress.

  • Eggs – Bed bug eggs are harder to spot, but the females produce an egg a day on average. Eggs are about the size of a grain of sand and they are strategically laid near the food source (you).

  • Exoskeletons – Small, yellowish, shells on or around your soft furnishings? These could be shed bed bugs skins… As if they couldn’t be any more unappealing!

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