Paris, the city of lights, is one of the most romantic tourist destinations in the world. As Europe, and other parts of the world, are concerned about coronavirus, the city has already begun a campaign to battle a troublesome pest infestation, affecting homes and businesses.
It has seen houses, apartments and hotels across the French capital facing an influx of what is locally known as “punaises de lit”, translated into English as bed bugs.
The insects have not been seen in Paris in decades, not since vanishing in the fifties. But, the local ministry of housing has announced the pest has re-emerged in large numbers, with many pointing the finger at increasing resistance to certain insecticides and growth of global travel, amongst other factors. Leading to the rise in bed bugs in Paris.
The government warns the infestation could impact anybody, so it has set up a webpage, offering advice and information, on avoiding cases of bed bugs and how to treat them, along with a number you can call.
According to pest control experts, two years ago, the last time information on bed bugs was available to the public, around 400,000 sites in Paris, homes and hotels, were affected. Disposing of the pest has cost homeowners large amounts and has even led to businesses closing.
Cimex lectularius, otherwise known as the common bed bug, is a six-legged insect, generally found in warmer climates across Europe and the US. They hide away in the daytime and emerge at night while we sleep, when they bite, leaving red, itchy marks. Fortunately, bed bugs do not transmit disease, but they can still be a nuisance.
Down through the decades, bed bugs were not so prevalent in post-war France, due to the common use of insecticides like DDT. However, after the poisonous substance was banned for health reasons, cases of Cimex lectularius increased.
But today, the problem has become so widespread, it even played a role in local politics. During the Paris 2020 electoral campaign, disgraced candidate Benjamin Griveaux, running for mayor, pledged to eradicate the pest infestation in Paris.
He planned on introducing what were referred to as concentrated anti-pest “brigades”, focusing on bed bugs, cockroaches and rats. A process where pest control experts would assist people from low-income households, free of charge, or at the lowest price available for those better off, to help them deal with bed bugs.
You know a problem is at the forefront of day to day life when it becomes part of the political agenda, which goes to show how commonplace beg bugs have become in Paris.