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Bed Bugs in the Uk – Before the Upsurge

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The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is a small, brownish, dorso-ventrally flattened biting bug. It is usually found concealed in and around beds, where it typically emerges during the night to feed on the occupants of the bed. It is not known to transmit disease, but the bites can be very irritating, and dealing with infestations is disruptive and costly for those managing residential premises. Prior to the 1940s, the bed bug was considered to be common and widespread in developed countries. However, it is believed to have then declined substantially in the following decades, until it was regarded as uncommon towards the end of the 20th century. However, from the late 1990s onwards, it has re-emerged once again to become a significant urban pest both in the UK, and in many other developed countries such as the USA and Australia. There are a number of explanations proposed for the recent upsurge, with the onset of resistance to currently used insecticides being most likely. However recent publications in the USA have also proposed that the bed bug upsurge there is driven by bed bug importation from overseas. Although there has been no serious suggestion that the bed bug upsurge in the UK is a result of importation of bugs or resistance genes from overseas, this review was nonetheless carried out to assemble evidence on the trends and distribution of bed bugs in the UK over the years prior to the recent upsurge. The UK is fortunate in that bed bug treatment records are available both from public sector pest control organisations, and from private pest control companies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-02-01

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