They stick to clothing, suitcases and furniture. They jump from one place to another, without us realizing it. During the day, they hide in mattresses and sofas. And at night, they feed on human blood. The newspaper Le Parisien has dedicated an article to them in which it calls them “vampires under the sheets”. If for years the nightmare of Paris has been the proliferation of rats, now the French capital is facing an invasion of bedbugs.
The media alarm began a few months ago when several videos showing these insects swarming in the cinema seats went viral. Later the same thing happened with the seats on the subway and some commuter trains. And in recent days they have had to close two schools. The proliferation of these parasites ten months before the Olympic Games in Paris has unleashed psychosis.
And, as expected, in the face of this bizarre situation, it did not take long for hoaxes and bizarre conspiracies about the topic. The last one is especially striking: The plague has been caused by a mysterious villain who wants to see France burn. A kind of Joker whose evil plans include spreading terror in the capital and turning everything upside down.
“A few months ago I started a new type of campaign: I, who live in accommodation close to a large bedbug infestation, began to fill packages of ten every day and send them by mail, hidden in letters.” The moment you open the envelope, your new nightmare life begins. It only takes a few weeks for the target infestation to be unsolvable and within months an entire neighborhood has become uninhabitable.
But what is my goal, you may ask. Well, that’s where the genius comes. I hate France from the bottom of my gut and I hate most of the people who live here, so I want this country to collapse as quickly as possible. I estimate that I have already cost the state more than 1 billion euros since I started. And that is only taking into account the costs of treating bed bugs and not counting the costs linked to psychological problems, loss of motivation, efficiency, lack of sleep and possible work accidents that may have occurred thanks to this.”
Obviously all this is false.
In fact, the screenshot that is circulating on social networks and that some users have cited It is also 2021when this Parisian problem (although it already existed), had barely made it into the media.
A problem that today, whether there is a villain behind it or not, the authorities are taking it very seriously. The alarm has reached politics, since the mayor’s office has asked the Government for help to fight this plague. “Almost all the deputies have made fun of me,” said the deputy of La Francia Insumisa, Mathilde Panot.
“We are concerned because it is an invasive species. If we do not address the problem from the root, we could be overwhelmed,” warned the deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Grégoire, who has called for quick action in the face of a “significant resurgence” of bed bugs in the capital.
These parasites are a hematophagous insect, that is, they feeds on blood, especially the human one. “It is a nocturnal insect, which means that it comes out at night to bite us when we are asleep, in our beds. During the day, bed bugs hide so that we do not see them,” explains Mohand Arezki Izri, parasitologist and medical entomologist at this Euronews article.
Their bites can cause redness, blisters or large rashes on the skin that can cause intense itching or allergic reactions. In addition, they can also cause depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. The French National Health Agency has recommended to citizens check your beds when traveling and to be careful when purchasing second-hand furniture or clothing.
Because right now?
Bed bugs have always been very present in France, although they disappeared drastically in the 1950s. Now, in recent decades they have returned and, as experts explain in this National Geographic article, they have reached levels that They haven’t been seen since before World War II.. They warn that the origin “is not a lack of hygiene, but rather population movement.” That is, the high population density and the increase in public transportation.
“People return from vacation and have brought them in their luggage, they proliferate in public spaces. A bedbug can lay up to 500 eggs throughout its life and it increases exponentially,” explained Franck Dabi, an expert in rodent control and disinfection.
This problem is believed to have already affected one in 10 households in France in recent years, according to the national health security agency. And that represents an enormous cost, since to proceed with its elimination, requires professional help. Doing it at home is not very effective, since many are resistant to insecticides. Between 2017 and 2022, households have already spent 230 million euros each year trying to expel them. What is clear is that this has not been caused by some sinister villain wanting to create chaos.
In Xataka | This parasite is, as far as we know, the only one in the world that does not need oxygen to survive.