Pest control are dealing with the most bed bug incidents in three years in a South London borough – but the council insists the problem isn’t getting worse.
Workers at Southwark Council were called out to 629 cases involving the blood sucking insects in 2022/23 – a 40 per cent increase in incidents compared to 2020/21.
A Freedom of Information request revealed the council attended 515 jobs involving bed bugs in 2021/22 and 373 in 2020/21.
The council was unable to provide data on call outs prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councillor James McAsh, cabinet member for streets, said the surge in cases was down to officers attending fewer properties to deal with incidents between 2020 and 2021 due to lockdown restrictions.
He said: “As restrictions eased, our officers resumed property visits, resulting in an increase in the number of visits. Service levels are now back to normal.”
But figures obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service [LDRS] show that a neighbouring borough has seen the number of bed bug cases it deals with fall since lockdown restrictions were eased.
In Lambeth, pest control dealt with over 18 per cent fewer cases of bed bugs this year than in 2020/21.
Workers were called out to 280 incidents in 2022/23, compared to 294 in 2021/22 and 344 in 2020/21.
In the last five-year period, bed bug incidents in the borough peaked in 2019/20 when workers were called out to 412 cases involving the insects.
The council said bed bug cases had been falling for the past four years, but added that there had been a slight recent increase in calls about the insects due to the increased spotlight on the issue.
A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “Our pest control teams can provide expert advice on preventing bed bugs and, where required, visit homes to treat affected rooms.”
In Lewisham, pest control dealt with 205 cases involving bed bugs in 2022/23, around the same number of incidents workers attended before the pandemic.
Figures show that in 2018/19 there were 210 requests for bed bug treatments and 205 in 2019/20. Lewisham Council did not respond to a request for comment on the issue.