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‘Explosion’ of bed bug infestations in UK as exterminator warns of ‘mini vampires’

The UK is in the midst of an explosion of ‘mini vampire’ infestations, as new research reveals rocketing numbers of bed bugs.

After a lull in lockdown, the rise in international travel meant the blood-sucking pests were jumping in travellers’ suitcases and hitchhiking into Britain.

Rentokil Pest Control revealed the number of enquiries about bed bugs soared this summer, up 23 per cent from last year.

It is the highest number since before the pandemic, and the firm said it was likely due to the renewed volume of international travel.

Families going abroad for the half-term holidays could be bringing back unwanted foreign pests to homes and hotels, it said.

Rentokil has warned bed bugs can live for a year without feeding on blood. However, the pests will usually feed every five to 10 days.

Signs of bed bugs include having dark stains on the mattress and headboard that look like mildew spotting, finding blood spots on the mattress, having a sweet smell in your room, and finding the shed of skins of the bugs.

Paul Blackhurst, Technical Academy Head at Rentokil Pest Control, said: “Many of us will never have seen a bed bug, but they are relatively common overseas.

“Now that international travel has resumed, we’ve seen an increase in commercial enquiries relating to potential bed bug infestations. We work closely with businesses in the hospitality industry to help their employees to recognise the signs.

“They are not only found in beds and will very often be found in the cracks under skirting boards, behind wallpaper or even in electrical sockets and fittings.

“When travelling and returning home, holidaymakers should avoid unpacking their luggage on beds and instead pop it on a suitcase stand, rack or in the bath while they check the room for any sign of these mini vampires, which are about the size of an apple seed.”

Meanwhile, a UK town is currently in the midst of a major mosquito plague as residents complain they face half a million blood-sucking gnats descending on the town.

Sandwich, a town in Kent on the south-east tip of England, is under attack from a plague of mosquitoes, fed-up residents have claimed.

Residents of the historic town claimed they were suffering swarms of bites – and one parent said her daughter was left looking like she had chickenpox.

Things have got so bad that residents were urging Dover District Council (DDC) to spray the banks of the River Stour, where they breed, or find another way to deal with them.

The local authority admitted that there was a “noticeable population” of the pests, and the river is the only place in the district where it needs to carry out spraying to kill larvae.