Govanhill resigned to bugbear of bed bugs, claims academic

12 December 2017, 11:04 | Updated: 12 December 2017, 11:05

Govanhill Glasgow

Residents of a Scottish community are resigned to living side by side with bed bugs, according to an academic.

Dr Heather Lynch, a lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, says some people in Govanhill on the south side of Glasgow have accepted that they have to adapt and accept the insects.

Writing in The Conversation, which uses information and research backed by academics, Dr Lynch said some residents had taken the view that the best response is to learn to live "side-by -side" with the insects and adapt.

She said: "The experience of people in Govanhill, a locality just south of Glasgow city centre, is that once these insects (bed bugs) become endemic they are effectively impossible to remove."

Dr Lynch said the area reflected the challenges and opportunities of 21st-century Europe.

She added: "Govanhill has become renowned in recent years for poor housing, poverty and crime - as well as for artists and vibrant community activists.

"And it faces major environmental issues, with constant rubbish dumping and infestations of bed bugs."

The article says that in the early 1900s, the world took its lead from the "Glasgow system", which educated tenants about cleanliness and bed bug behaviour. This included regular visits from the public health department.

But now researchers say the area has seen "a significant rise" in bedbugs similar to international parts of New York, Australia, China and France.

Govanhill, it says, has attracted funding worth millions of pounds, including a dedicated pest control unit to deal with "hundreds of cases" every year.

The academic, however, warned that there are few signs of this tackling the problem, because bed bugs can lie dormant for extensive periods.

Dr Lynch described how one resident felt ashamed and horrified by the bugs, but eventually accepted "reluctantly" that they may be the norm.

She concluded that the residents who have learned to live with the bed bugs may be ahead of the curve as they are adapting to their environments, rather than using environmentally harmful products.

Despite the efforts of Glasgow City Council, the academic said the problem may be too big to solve.

She added: "Having talked to many in the area, I have found this trajectory is common.

"Many people who have come to terms with the fact that you can't beat bugs resign themselves to living with them instead."