Bed bug mania in Paris sparks surge in UK pest control calls

TikToker shares how to check hotel room for bed bugs

Bed bug experts are urging calm after stomach-churning reports of an outbreak in Paris triggered a spike in calls to pest controllers.

Images and videos apparently showing the critters crawling on seats on the city’s Metro, trains and buses sparked fears the infestation would spread to Britain.

Ricky Clark, managing director at Environ Pest Control, said he had seen a 20 percent surge in calls recently. However, this was due to heightened fears about bed bugs caused by the recent “hype” rather than a rise in actual cases.

Mr Clark said: “I have seen an uptick in pest-related calls for bed bugs in London, however a lot of these cases are not actually bed bugs. People are very anxious about it.

“There’s a viral video going around [claiming to show] a bed bug on someone on the tube, and I can see straight away that it’s not a bed bug.”

Mr Clark said he had also received calls from people suffering from delusional parasitosis, a psychiatric condition which causes the mistaken belief that they are plagued by parasites or organisms such as insects, worms or fleas.

He added: “When you hear these stories coming out of Paris, that increases people’s anxieties.”

Paul Blackhurst, head of technical academy at Rentokil, also urged people to “take these reports with a pinch of salt”.

He explained: “It could be one train or area that’s involved, or down to people being more aware of bed bugs.

“Lots of these images that we’ve seen on TikTok and elsewhere, I would question: are they actually bed bugs?

“We have got to take a realistic view, and a calm and considered approach.”

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Although their bites can cause itching and discomfort, bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases.

But infestations can have a serious impact on mental health, including triggering insomnia and depression.

The blood-sucking critters are also notoriously hard to kill and can survive in a zombie-like state known as stasis for months when food is scarce.

Aaron Clarke, a pest control technician at Pimlico Plumbers, said he was concerned about their ability to develop resistance to some insecticides. But he added that infestations were currently “few and far between” and he had seen no signs of an increase.

“Today was the first bed bug case I had to attend in over six weeks and it was far from an infestation,” Mr Clarke said.

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Professor James Logan, an expert in medical entomology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he had not seen any scientific evidence of an outbreak in Paris.

He added that if the city was experiencing a “bed bug boom” then people may carry them into the UK but “there’s a risk that we do that no matter where we travel”.

Meanwhile, Mr Clark urged anyone concerned about a possible infestation to call in professionals immediately, rather than turning to DIY products or old wives’ tales.

He added: “You can inadvertently make the problem worse and spread these things. Just call in the experts. We need to control and manage that infestation before it spreads further.”

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