People in Hong Kong have started panic-buying insect killers and hiring pest control services as fears over bedbugs in the city grow, South China Morning Post reported. Last week, a photo was widely circulated online in which bedbugs were seen on an Airport Express train. Later, after a deep cleaning process, no such insects were found on the train. However, the viral picture triggered paranoia among residents regarding a potential influx of bedbug infestation from South Korea, France, and Britain.
Notably, bedbugs are small, oval-shaped parasitic, nocturnal bloodsuckers and their bites can cause rashes. These blood-sucking pests have been given the name bedbugs because they have a habit of nesting in mattresses. They come out at night to feed on human blood.
Mr. Francisco Pazos, owner and head technician at pest control company Nobedbugs-HK, said the firm has an ”unbelievable” amount of work, having ”done a month’s work in the last three days”.
He told SCMP: ”Hong Kong is like Disneyland for bedbugs… because it is so dense, there are lots of places for them to lay eggs but also move from person to person.”
E-commerce platform Shopline has also seen a 172 times increase in sales of pest control and bedbug-killing products
Last week, Hong Kong authorities distributed bedbug warning leaflets to passengers at the airport amid rising reports of bedbug infestations in South Korea, France, and the UK.
A Hong Kong government spokesperson said in a statement: ”Although information shows that bedbugs will not spread diseases, bedbug bites may cause skin allergy and itchiness and make people feel unwell. The government therefore takes swift actions to minimise the chance of transmission of bedbugs from overseas to the local community.”
However, an expert said infestations of the insects could be avoided with good hygiene and simple precautions.
Last month, France’s capital Paris also battled an invasion of bedbugs, just 10 months before the 2024 Summer Olympics. The tiny pests were first spotted in hotels and rental apartments across the city during the summer. Moviegoers also reported spotting these bugs in theatres while some passengers caught them crawling around on seats in high-speed trains and Paris Metro.
Bedbugs had disappeared from daily life in France in the 1950s, but their resurgence is mostly due to high population density and more mass transit.