"No-one is safe"
Préparez-vous à démanger (French for prepare to itch), because bed bugs have officially taken over Paris.
“No one is safe” from the blood-sucking insects the French Transport Minister Clement Beanue warned on X last week, as the bugs have not only been seen in beds across the capital and Marseille but on public transport, in airports and even in cinemas.
The country’s infestation has raised concerns, especially as Paris is set to host the Olympics next year.
As Heathline explains, bed bugs are able to spread when they latch onto our pets and our belongings, including clothing, linen, luggage and furniture, which explains why they’re so often found in hotels.
Female bugs can lay 500 or more eggs in a lifetime, and once bitten itchy welts and spots can appear on a person’s face, neck, arms and hands. Although the insects haven’t shown to carry diseases, that doesn’t make them any less annoying – or gross. Because they drink blood (and can even feast on 200% of their body weight in one sitting), bed bugs can survive for a worryingly long time – in some cases for over 500 days.
According to ANSES, the French government’s agency responsible for managing health risks in the country, more than one in 10 French households had a bed bug problem between 2017 and 2022, and while there may be a Channel separating us, they’re proving to be a problem in the UK, too.
Earlier this year, leading pest control service Rentokil found there’s been a 65 per cent increase in infestations year on year in the UK. A representative warned The Independent that the continuous rise could be down to factors like an increase in secondhand furniture in homes across the country.
Hiring a bed bug exterminator can be an expensive task, so we’ve compiled some tips to keep the blood-sucking pests out of your home:
From clothes to books and magazines, remove anything that could be a hiding place for beg bugs from around or underneath your bed. “Bed bugs do not like to climb or stay on smooth plastic materials,” a guide by Rutgers University says. “Placing small items in plastic containers or in sealed heavy-duty plastic bags will prevent bed bugs from infesting your items.” Another tip is the repair any cracks in your plaster or wallpaper, as these can become hiding places for the critters.
Wash and dry your clothing and sheets at high temperatures
Doing this helps to kill off any bugs and eggs they’ve most likely laid – anywhere from 40-50 degrees celsius should work. Steam cleaning is a great option too.
Awareness is key
Especially after travelling. As we previously mentioned, bed bugs can latch on to a number of your belongings, and they don’t hang around. Once your home has become infested it can be difficult to keep the problem under control, so before it gets to that stage, make sure to check your suitcase (and the contents of it) after travelling, and make sure to check your pets regularly.
Hoover, hoover, hoover
If there’s already a bed bug presence in your home, Heathline notes that it’s essential to keep them contained. The best way to do this is to vacuum, and we’re not just talking carpets. Hoover your bed, your furniture (like wardrobes, chest of drawers etc) and even electronics like your TV. Once they’ve been sucked up and you’ve emptied them out, make sure to give your hoover a good clean.
You can find bed bug traps to order all over the internet, from cost-effective options to use as an early indicator of an infestation to anti-bug mattress encasements. If the situation is out of the control it’s probably best to give the experts a call, though.
You might just have to bin it
Whether it’s a beloved armchair passed down through family generations or a cute vintage sofa you found on Facebook Marketplace, realising the source of your bed bug problem can be a hard pill to swallow. But if the above techniques haven’t worked and you’ve got a strong inkling that bed bugs are using your furniture as an Airbnb, it’s time to chuck it out. Sorry.