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Simon Forrester, CEO of British Pest Control Association
on Bed Bug Treatment

Bed Bug University—Pest World Conference

Bed Bug Infestations

Simon joked about how London is the hotspot for the bed bug infestations or the bed bug capital of the United Kingdom. Even joking it would be called the Bed Bug Olympics.

London is about the size of New York with a very diverse group of people living there. It is the most visited International place in the world and has 1/8 the population of the entire U.K. Simon said he first remembers learning of bed bugs when his grandfather told a story about taking his grandmother on their first date and being bitten. They had gone to the cinema and had been bitten so badly that most in his family steered clear of the cinema.

Back in those days (1930’s) around 10% of the households were infested with bedbugs. It was mostly seen in lower income housing and there were few effective treatments at that time. Things began to get better when the people got together and decided to enact legislation that would decrease disease and pests. He stated that DDT was also used and then by the early 60’s the bed bug issues was so well under control that perhaps only 1% remained.

By the turn of the century the problem begin to grow again. They saw high increase in the summer months and were finding more and more bed bugs that were resistant to chemicals.( Our company doesn’t use chemicals other than organics, but I recall seeing a case in Summerville, SC in which proper technique appeared to be used by a pesticide company, but even after several attempts the bed bugs seemed resistant to the chemical treatments and that ended up being the reason we were brought into the residence for heat remediation.)  

By the time London was chosen for the Olympics (2010) the concern was that people would be bitten and might take them back home or that some travelers would bring in different species of bed bugs making the problem even worse. What they found in research was that bed bugs were not really being brought in as much as they had thought and that it was the good ole English bed bug that was the problem.  The government normally subsidizes such things as pest control, but in a recession there has been less money for local counties to do this.

Treatment for Bed Bugs

One thing I found most interesting (if I understood him correctly), was that their country does not issue pesticide licenses and that anyone can call themselves a pest control company. They have to do a lot of policing within their own industry to weed out the good companies from the bad. He also noted that most of the older generation that had dealt with bed bugs in the 30’s has since deceased taking their knowledge with them.

They see bed bug problems more in high density housing and because of resistance there are more and more non-chemical means being introduced to eradicate them. They use heat, cold, steam cleaning, and chemical mixes like pyrethroids with growth regulators and such. They very rarely use spray treatments as these do not penetrate their well built building structures.

Bed Bug Problems

Several of the challenges that the British Pest Control Association recognizes are the need to improve Information and share what works within the industry. Several of the hotels in the area are very tight-lipped about sharing what they have found to work. They agree their Code of Practices should be used by everyone that works in the industry. As well as finding an affordable technique for dealing with low income housing which are found to have infestations. He said that if an affordable technique is not found the problem in low housing will be as rampant among the poor as it was in the 1930s.

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