Bedbug enquiries on the rise in UK, says pest control firm Rentokil

By Anchal Rana and Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) – British pest control giant Rentokil Initial saw a 32% jump in enquiries about bedbugs from January to September this year compared with a year earlier, it said on Thursday, amid worries of infestation in the UK after reports from France.

French social and traditional media have reported extensively about bedbugs on trains and in cinemas and the government worries about the impact on tourism and the Paris Olympics, which start in less than a year.

Last week, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, speaking to social media publisher PoliticsJOE, said people were worried about bedbugs in Paris causing a problem in London.

He added that he was in contact with Transport for London and they were taking steps such as regular cleaning of tubes and busses to ensure there is no such problem in London.

“Anecdotally from technicians we are seeing a significant increase in interest (in the UK),” a spokesperson for Rentokil said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Bedbugs, small and flat oval insects about the size of an apple pip, feed on the blood of humans and animals and are a significant problem in many parts of the world as they easily spread and are difficult to treat.

High levels of hygiene, deep cleaning and the use of do-it-yourself bedbug sprays will help kill some bedbugs, although professional treatment is often needed to successfully treat an infestation, according to Rentokil.

Rentokil Pest Control in the UK tracked a 65% increase year-on-year in recorded bedbug activity in the second quarter of 2023, versus last year.

“This is when a pest technician had confirmed the activity,” the spokesperson said.

An activity is when a technician has been on a customer site and confirmed the presence of bedbugs.

(Reporting by Anchal Rana and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; editing by David Evans)