The invasion of bedbugs in Paris and other cities in France has sparked a wave of insectophobia and raised questions about cleanliness and hygiene for the upcoming Olympic Games, which will be hosted by the French capital next year. This is how the French and many foreign media describe the situation, and it is partly true. But only partly.
The truth is that bed bugs have become more prevalent in recent weeks, but overall this trend has been going on for several years. “Every year at the end of the summer, we observe a noticeable increase in the number of bedbugs,” says Jean-Michel Berange, an entomologist at the Central Hospital of Marseille and a leading specialist on les punaises (the French name for these creatures). “This is because people move around a lot in July and August and bring them with them in their luggage. And each new year, the seasonal growth is higher than the previous one”.
Paris will host the XXXIII Summer Olympic Games with the Opening Ceremony on July 26, 2024. In Paris, in addition to the old fear of encountering a bedbug in one’s home (according to official data, one in ten residents has had this sad experience in the last five years), new fears have emerged. Although reports of bed bugs in movie theaters have not been confirmed, officials are taking the matter very seriously. As are claims that someone has been bitten on a train. Both Paris City Hall and the President’s office are calling for urgent action. This shows how seriously they take this problem and how they want to maintain a good image of Paris on the eve of the Olympic Games. They’re not even taking the risk of attributing the bedbug panic to social media fabrications. And there is a grain of truth in that. Horror stories spread so quickly on the Internet that an issue that newspapers used to save for slow news days suddenly became a matter of national concern. Movie theater owners, already worried about declining audience interest, are seriously frightened by the spread of videos on social media showing unidentified insects crawling on movie theater seats. Subway passengers carefully inspect the seats before sitting down, and some even prefer to stand. “This year we are dealing with a new element – a general psychosis that has already taken root,” says Berange. “On the one hand, this is good because people have become aware of the problem, and the sooner action is taken against bedbugs, the better. But the problem itself is greatly exaggerated.
Residents of France are demanding that exterminators solve the problem of bedbugs. We explain quickly, simply, and clearly what happened, why it matters, and what’s next. The number of episodes should remain the same. The end of the story: Promotional Podcasts. But the fact remains: the number of bedbugs has increased, and this increase is continuing, perhaps for the last 20-30 years. And not only in France. Many factors have contributed to this, but the most important is globalization, with its container traffic, global tourism, and global migration. One factor can be safely ruled out – climate change. Cimex lectularius (which is the Latin name for bed bugs) – is an exclusively domestic creature that only lives where people settle and is not dependent on the weather. After World War II, the widespread use of DDT greatly reduced the populations of bedbugs and many other nasty insects. But since then, DDT and many other insecticides have been banned as harmful to human health. At the same time, the bugs themselves changed: those that were genetically more susceptible to insecticide exposure died out. And those that survived the DDT hit produced offspring that were more resistant to the toxins. The third factor may be a reduction in the cockroach population due to an overall increase in home cleanliness. Cockroaches hunt for bedbugs. But don’t worry, no one is suggesting that you bring cockroaches into your home to control bedbugs! According to Beranze, people in developed countries tend to panic when they see bed bugs because they have lost their collective memory of them. In countries where bed bugs are still widespread, people tend not to exaggerate the danger of these insects. The truth is that bed bugs are definitely bad, but their danger is more psychological than physical. As disgusting as Cimex lectularis may be, as far as is known, they do not transmit diseases. Yes, their bites are disgusting, but they heal fairly quickly. Bed bugs molt periodically, shedding their exoskeletons. They leave fecal traces in the form of black dots (which is your digested blood). They begin to wriggle with pleasure when they sense the proximity of a human, and finally, they can survive for a year without food (i.e., without us). In general, a complete set of horrors.
“Klopi, they are in an enlarged form on the monitor in the hospital in Marseille and are spread all over France. But the most devastating damage they do is to your mental health. A year ago, my 29-year-old son discovered bedbugs in his apartment in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. He threw out the entire bed, washed all his clothes, and thoroughly cleaned the apartment from top to bottom. But he still couldn’t sleep. He began to feel that something was crawling on him. This has become a kind of obsession. It was only after his home was treated for insects by a reputable pest control company for a large sum of money that he was able to breathe a sigh of relief. By the way, some companies use specially trained sniffers to fight (or, more accurately, find) bed bugs. “If you have bedbugs, it’s no laughing matter,” Berange admits. “But there are a lot of myths about how easily bedbugs can spread from one place to another. So in my opinion, if you want to get rid of bedbugs, you don’t have to go after everybody, you just have to go after the main sources of infestation.” According to Berange, there are not many of them, but they are the main distributors of bedbugs. Typically, bedbugs spread from the homes of marginalized people, often with mental disorders, who are abandoned by society and left to fend for themselves. When Beranze and his colleagues enter the home of such a person, they often find a disgusting sight: hundreds of bed bugs crawling everywhere and the eggs they have laid, from which new bed bugs will hatch. “Every time a resident of such an apartment leaves, they spread bed bugs around, and these people need help first and foremost,” says entomologist Jean-Michel Beranju. You can read the original material here.