The French government is diligently striving to mitigate nationwide anxieties over an escalating bedbug scare. An educational institution in Paris is the most recent building to fall victim to an alleged infestation.
Top officials from various ministries, including health, economy, and transportation, will come together in the prime minister’s office on Friday to orchestrate a strategic response to the insect threat.
These same officials have set their sights on expediting the creation of a national observatory on bedbugs to provide an accurate understanding of the situation.
Despite the undeniable uptick in the bedbug population, not just in France, but globally, entomologists and health authorities caution against groundless fear reactions. They warn that an unnecessary hysteria could ensue as many of the recent claimed sightings have proven false.
Nicolas Roux de Bézieux, founder of the pest control web platform badbugs.fr, reveals that in 75% of distress calls he fields, the reported issues are unrelated to bedbugs.
Similarly, Romain Morzaderc, a Brittany pest-controller, relayed to a local newspaper – Ouest-France, that while there are certainly unpleasant black bugs, they are not always bedbugs.
Given the sheer volume of international coverage the bedbug scare has received, government ministers are concerned about the potential harm it may cause France’s reputation, ensuing impact on tourism, and possible repercussions for next year’s Olympics.
Simultaneously, the officials must accomplish a delicate equilibrium between providing reassurances to the public and creating awareness about this pressing issue that requires immediate intervention if it is to be effectively managed.
In light of the situation, transport minister Clément Beaune has dismissed alarm over the reported bedbug incidents on metro and SNCF trains and emphasized a well-balanced response.
“Let there be no denial or hysteria,” he stated.
Over the past weeks, pest-control companies across France have noted a substantial increase in bedbug-related summons. Seasonal fluctuations after the summer holidays are routine, explains Nicolas Roux de Bézieux, however, every year the situation appears to worsen.
Reports of bedbugs in public places such as cinemas, trains, hospitals, and schools are becoming commonplace. Despite this, not every video going viral on social media pertains to the correct species.
In a recent confirmed instance, a high school in Paris’s 12th district, the Elisa-Lemonnier lycée, was found to be infested, resulting in the refusal to work by the teaching staff.
To address the situation, the government is considering several actions, including price regulation for eradication services, clarity on financial responsibilities between homeowners and tenants, and establishing a register of pest-control companies.
The fear of potentially unskilled and dishonest pest-controllers exploiting the situation can cause homeowners to hesitate in seeking professional assistance.
Renowned French bedbug expert, Jean-Michel Berenger, suggests that many pest-controllers have inadequate training and might wrongfully intervene even when bedbugs aren’t the issue.
In these trying times, public education on bedbugs has attained importance for future preparedness. This includes fascinating facts about the reproductive process of cimex lectularius, the scientific nomenclature for bedbugs, a species that practices ‘traumatic insemination’. Male bedbugs inseminate females by penetrating their body at any point. Interestingly, millennial evolution has led to females developing an indentation in their abdomen for males to pierce them at that spot. Homosexual behavior and interspecies insemination are also observed among male bedbugs.