Worst bed bug infected cities across Britain MAPPED with creepy crawlies set to invade


In the last month, reports of bed bugs have exploded, with social media crawling with photos and videos of the blood-sucking insects. 

Now, data has revealed the UK’s skin-crawling hot spots with the biggest infestations. 

Using Google search data, researchers from Merlin Environmental worked out which areas of the UK have the biggest bed bug problems compared with the population size. 

Out of the UK’s 20 biggest cities, four were deemed to have a ‘very high infestation’, with London claiming the top spot as ‘Bed Bug Capital’ of Britain. 

However, the results show that it’s not just the biggest cities that have the highest levels of infestation. 

Is your city on the list? This map reveals which of the UK's 20 largest cities have the worst bed bug infestations for their population size

Is your city on the list? This map reveals which of the UK’s 20 largest cities have the worst bed bug infestations for their population size 

Following in Paris' footsteps, London now seems to have been caught up in the bed bug boom with footage surfacing of the blood-suckers on the underground and buses

Following in Paris’ footsteps, London now seems to have been caught up in the bed bug boom with footage surfacing of the blood-suckers on the underground and buses 

What areas in the UK have the worst bed bug infection rate? 

The researchers examined Google search trends for the 12 months leading up to January 2022 to find out how frequently the terms ‘bed bugs’ or ‘bed bug treatment’ were searched.

These figures were then divided by the number of people in the area to work out what percentage of the population the searches accounted for. 

The analysis revealed that London had the highest amount of searches per capita with 266,400 searches, equivalent to 2.97 per cent of the population Googling bed bugs. 

The second spot was claimed by Leicester, coming in just behind at 2.95 per cent of the population – a surprising result given that it is only the 13th most populous city. 

Manchester came in third with 2.8 per cent of the population feeling compelled to search for bed bugs. 

Meanwhile, residents of Wakefield will be relieved to discover that their city had the lowest rate of bed bug problems out of anywhere the researchers examined, with only an equivalent of 0.46 per centof the population searching for bed bugs

While a plague of blood-sucking insects might sound too grim to be true, the situation in the UK is a growing public health issue.

How infected is your city? 
Name of city or town  Search rate per aapita 
Greater London 2.97%
Leicester  2.95% 
Manchester  2.82% 
Bristol  2.67% 
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% 

Are bed bugs really an issue in the UK? 

This week, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that the possibility of bed bugs on the London Underground was ‘a real source of concern’.

Mr Khan said that he was in contact with officials from Paris after the French capital became overwhelmed by a massive infestation. 

A viral video even appears to show a bed bug crawling on a passenger’s leg on the Victoria Line in London, while the bugs have also been spotted on Manchester bus services.

Dr Richard Naylor, an etymologist from the Bed Bug Foundation, told MailOnline that the recent spread of bed bugs was due to several different factors.

‘Bedbugs were once much more common. In the 1930s almost every house in London had bedbugs’ Dr Naylor explained.

However, after the Second World War, efforts were made to improve living conditions and numbers fell.

Bed bugs continued to grow rarer until the late 90s when, all across the world, their numbers began to increase rapidly.

Only the Covid-19 pandemic could briefly knock bed bug numbers back down as travel restrictions limited their spread. 

Due to repeated exposure to pesticides, the remaining bed bug populations have become extremely resistant to the chemicals used to treat infestations

Due to repeated exposure to pesticides, the remaining bed bug populations have become extremely resistant to the chemicals used to treat infestations 

Dr Naylor told MailOnline: ‘There are multiple factors that contribute to the bedbug’s success. They thrive wherever human population density is high because this makes it easy for them to spread.

‘In apartment buildings and sheltered housing complexes they can easily walk down corridors and under doors, gradually infesting the whole building.’

Bed bugs’ entire life cycle is very temperature dependent, meaning the warmer it is the faster they spread.

‘They benefit from good central heating and warm weather. The warmer they are, the more they feed and the faster they reproduce,’ Dr Naylor added.

‘Warmer weather resulting from climate change could make the bedbug problem worse.’

And, as central heating and warmer weather have made life easier for bed bugs, the bugs themselves have adapted to be harder to remove. 

Bed bugs are perfectly adapted to hiding in our homes as they need the warmth of central heating to reproduce and can hide in even the tiniest cracks or crevices

Bed bugs are perfectly adapted to hiding in our homes as they need the warmth of central heating to reproduce and can hide in even the tiniest cracks or crevices 

How to get rid of bed bugs 

Bed bug infestations used to be treated with chemicals such as DDT, which has now been banned as it was found to have caused the deaths of many British birds of prey. 

Pest control now uses chemicals called pyrethroids to treat infections, however, bed bugs have become highly resistant to these chemicals.

Dr Naylor said: ‘Whenever an insecticide application is less than 100 per cent effective, the survivors will tend to be the most resistant individuals from the population. 

‘If they run off and establish new infestations in the neighbouring apartment or hotel room, the resulting population will be the offspring of those most resistant individuals.’

What are bed bugs? 

Bed bugs can run up to 100 feet per hour, meaning they can easily travel from room to room to find a host to feed on.

Their almost paper-thin bodies mean that they are able to fit into the smallest cracks of furniture like the headboard of a bed, making them very difficult to spot.

Bed bugs travel by hiding in clothing or luggage so that when a human hops in the car or on a train the bugs hitch a ride too.

They primarily come out at night to feed and hide during the day.

Using their sharp senses they track the CO2 coming from our breath to find someone to feed on even in pitch darkness.

A female bed bug generally lays one egg a day but can lay up to seven under the right conditions.

Eggs look like grains of sand and take around 10-15 days to hatch into a new bed bug. 

The best way to find bed bugs is by using a specially trained dog which can sniff out the bugs communication pheromones.  

Bed bugs can run up to 100 feet per hour, meaning they can easily travel from room to room to find a host to feed on

Bed bugs can run up to 100 feet per hour, meaning they can easily travel from room to room to find a host to feed on



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