It’s the stuff of vacation nightmares; Arrive at your hotel to find that other guests have arrived before you and are biting. Paris is back in the bed bug headlines, but is the city really different from other metropolitan areas when it comes to an increase? As the city opens a hotline, here’s what you need to know and why this is happening.
Bed bug that feeds on human skin.
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Bed bugs multiply in most major cities
Bed bugs were almost wiped out in the 1950s after the increased use of pesticides and insect repellants, including DDT. Nearly ten years ago, Scientific American reported a tremendous increase in bed bugs around the world and announced that they are now found in every state in the US and have not gone away in the past decade. Bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to chemicals, so that – as is more common with many insects – the stronger bed bugs survive and remain; We are generally creating new breeds of superbugs, not just bed bugs.
Bed bugs have increased in many countries in recent years. In 2017, The Guardian reported an “exponential increase in bed bug infestations” across the UK. At the same time, Le Parisien reported an explosive surge in Paris which has since struggled to keep the numbers under control. So the problem is global, not local, and Paris is not alone.
Just last month, The Local reported that bed bugs were on the rise again in France. According to the French Union for Pest Control, “the number of cases in France has increased from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years”.
These bugs are roughly the size of an uppercase “O” in this lettering.
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Bed bugs can be difficult to eradicate
A major difficulty is getting rid of them. As soon as a room becomes faulty, hoteliers have to dispose of not only the mattress but also the bed frame and all bed linen, which can cost between € 300 ($ 325) and € 10,000 (almost $ 11,000) depending on the hotel category. Then the hotel must remain locked until pest control has confirmed that the bed bugs have been removed, causing another loss of earnings.
It traumatizes hotel managers, we talk to each other about it, but shyly ”
Jean-Marc D’Orx, President General of the Hotel Union of Ile-de-France, told Le Parisien (quoted in The Local).
Bed bugs do well in warmer weather, so increased summer temperatures in northern Europe have increased their elongation – The Guardian reported that their reproductive cycle shortens in hotter climates. Another factor is that people are no longer in the air as they used to be, so that the insects can multiply.
Bed bugs have become political
The Guardian reported that bed bugs have become such a big problem that they were featured in the current mayoral election (which will be held in March). Candidate Benjamin Griveaux – before dropping out of the race because of a sex video scandal – promised to rid Paris of bed bugs in 100 days. He promised anti-pest brigades with free interventions for low-income households. This week the French government set up an emergency hotline to fight the infestation.
American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) entomologist Louis Sorkin feeds bed bugs to his bug … [+]
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Bed bugs are a great straightener; They love the rich as much as they love the poor
Highly populated urban areas make it easy to move from home to home, especially since bed bugs are a misnomer. In fact, they love to settle into any type of upholstered furniture or fabric, which means that they often move around on suitcases, clothes, etc., rather than people. They are often linked to poverty because people lack the finances to deal with them, but they are not fussy. Their love for warm furniture means they love your Hermes suitcase as much as they love your Decathlon backpack.
The bottom line is that it’s easy to carry bed bugs back from vacation to home, no matter how clean or swanky. They are also often found on public transport, for example on seats on the London Underground.
Stuffed red bed bugs, giveaways distributed at the Global Bed Bug Summit in Denver, USA
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What to do when you find it
Travelandleisure.com offers two great pieces of advice when looking for bed bugs. The first is to check the mattresses at the seams. If you’re still not sure, blow up the mattress with a blow dryer as the heat should let it creep out.
And once you spot the little creatures, it’s worth noting that there’s no evidence that they transmit disease. In the end, it might be better to live with the little creatures as stated in The Conversation. As the author points out, “the stress of discovering them in your life is probably more damaging than anything you actually do”.