Elderly people and children at a west London library were evacuated after bedbugs were found crawling in the soft furnishings.
Pensioners and families turned up to Ealing Central Library on Tuesday to return books but found the doors were locked and a sign on the door said the library had a bedbug infestation.
The building was open for a children’s book launch in the days prior, but users were forced to evacuate on Monday after more of the insects were spotted and it will now stay closed until Thursday.
Ealing Council said it has removed the soft furnishings in the library to undergo chemical treatment.
A notice appeared on the door the next day, telling the public there was a pest infestation
A bed bug has also been spotted on a bus in Manchester following an outbreak of the critters
A video went viral of what is claimed to be a bedbug on a passenger’s leg on the Victoria Line
The library was closed the week before, with cushions taken away, but reopened.
It posted on Facebook: ‘Ealing Central library is closed today for essential maintenance work. Normal service will resume tomorrow. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.’
But staff spotted more bedbugs on Monday and they decided to evacuate.
There was a tannoy announcement at 1.30 on Monday 30 which told everyone in the library to exit the building.
A notice appeared on the door the next day, telling the public there was a pest infestation and the soft furnishings are to be temporarily removed.
The notice on the library doors read: ‘Due to a pest infestation, we have temporarily removed soft furnishings from public use.
‘These seats are currently being treated with pest control chemicals.
‘These chemicals will be applied while the library is closed and are safe for children and adults. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.’
Before the evacuation, one library user posted of Facebook: ‘Ealing Library soft furnishings cordoned off. Bedbugs invasion?’
One anxious book lover posted on Facebook: ‘Gosh, what kind of bugs? Hope they de-bugged it before I visited last Friday!’
Another posted: ‘Ealing Central Library – what a shambles, I was [disgusted] to see staff and customer allowed to use the library when they have the bedbug invasion.
‘This is really bad news.’
One user posted on the local Facebook group and said: ‘The library has reopened but I wouldn’t recommend taking any books out, as the bugs may be in the books and once they get into your house they will spread like vermin.’
One pensioner who was evacuated told the Independent: ‘It was all very strange, we’ve never been turfed out like that so quickly. Everyone on the computers had to leave.’
Ealing Council said it has removed the soft furnishings in the library to get chemical treatment
Bedbugs are seen in a sofa bed in L’Hay-les-Roses near Paris, France
Ealing Council posted on Facebook: ‘Ealing Central library is closed today for essential maintenance work. Normal service is expected to resume on Thursday 2nd November. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.’
A council spokesperson said: ‘Ealing Library was closed on 30 October 2023 at 1.30pm as staff noticed pests (bed bugs) in the library. It is anticipated that the library will reopen on Thursday 2 November and normal service will resume.
‘The council is actively addressing this issue with professional pest control solutions.
‘These treatments will be administered during the library’s closure and the chemicals used are safe for individuals of all ages.
‘The technical advice was that it was safe for both the public and staff to re-open the library – both in terms of controlling and preventing the spread of the infestation and in relation to the chemicals used to treat furniture.
‘However, the council recognised that library users and staff had concerns and decided that temporarily closing the library was the right course of action.
‘The library is only being reopened after a full course of treatment has been applied by contractors Rentokill.
‘The council will continue to monitor the situation and take preventative measures to ensure that the issue has been fully resolved, and that everything is being done to prevent its recurrence.
‘We extend our apologies for any inconvenience this situation may cause and thank residents and library staff for their understanding.’
Data released by pest-control company Rentokil in September showed that from 2022 to 2023, the UK saw a 65 per cent increase in bed bug infestations.
Experts have warned the rise in bed bugs could be due to the increase in travel after the covid-19 lockdowns.
Bedbugs had largely disappeared from daily life in developed countries by the 1950s but have made a return in the past 30 years.
The causes include growing resistance to insecticides, an increase in public travel and a rising proclivity for second-hand goods.
Bed bugs spread by making their way into clothing or luggage, meaning people can unwittingly help them hitch-hike between locations and start a fresh outbreak. They can also crawl between rooms in hotels and blocks of flats.
They quickly reproduce, with each female bug laying one to seven eggs per day after feeding and up to 250 in their 10-month lifespan. They can survive for weeks to months without feeding.
Professional help is needed to fully eradicate an infestation, with experts recommending a heat pod treatment that heats infested rooms and belongings to 50C (122F) for a couple of hours.
Pest control firms have reported being inundated with calls about infestations in recent months.