Reports of bedbugs on train seats in France have caused a new stir about the insects online with experts confirming it and the SNCF denying it while other people report being bitten in cinemas.
#Cinema Les salles impaires en bas, @UGCcinemas @ugcdistribution de #Bercy Village sont infestées de punaises de lit, ATTENTION ‼️‼️‼️#Paris12— Nawal ⚡️ (@Nawal_) August 26, 2023
En DM ici, on vous remercie de l'info, mais PAS un mot de regret, ni aucune excuse. RIEN.
La direction du ciné ne traite PAS les salles. pic.twitter.com/VwPkBNlwEF
Infestations have been on the rise for some time with 11% of homes infested at some point between 2017 and 2022, a study* by the French Health and Safety authority shows.
A bedbug infestation can cause significant physical and psychological discomfort, with some victims facing ongoing sleep issues even in new beds but they can also be extremely costly.
Before an infestation happens, there are steps you can take to prevent the bugs settling but what should you do if they are already in your home and how much will it cost to get rid of them?
Deterrent tablets (tablettes répulsives) have some efficacy in scaring away bedbugs, but they are also chemically hazardous, states the government-certified pest control company Hygiene Biotech.
They can be placed in bags when travelling to prevent bringing bedbugs back home, but they should be avoided near clothes or sheets.
Diatomaceous earth (terre de diatomée) is effective at trapping arthropods like bedbugs. It acts like a glue trap (another effective preventive measure) and can prevent bugs from reaching your bed when spread around it. If you find bedbug carcasses, it is a good sign of infestation.
Bedbugs can settle into your home in two ways: either they get imported in – while latching on clothes or furniture – or they crawl in through the walls. Looking for cracks in walls is a good way of preventing an infestation.
Treating a bedbug infestation
Bedbugs cannot be waited out and contrary to popular belief, they can survive for up to 15 months without feeding.
Insecticides are effective but they cannot eliminate a whole colony - they also prevent you from sleeping in your own bed as they can cause skin or eye irritation. You can use them on your floors, your bed frame or in corners in your bedroom.
The most effective way to exterminate bedbugs is heat as they can grow resilient to chemicals, but cannot survive temperatures of over 55C. Washing bed sheets at above 60C for over 30 minutes will eliminate them.
That is also why washing all clothes at high temperatures when returning from holiday, even if they have not been worn, is recommended.
As for the mattress and the rest of the room, professionals recommend the use of a hot steam cleaner, which can be bought for around €100. The process must be carried out meticulously in every nook and cranny of the bed and multiple times over several days.
Larvae and eggs can be more resistant to heat, which is why professional exterminators combine hot steam cleaning with a flash freezing method. By using freeze-sprays, they rely on thermal shock to eliminate the bugs that survived the steam cleaning.
Freeze-spray cans (cryo-spray) can be purchased online for around €20 a can.
The cost of a professional extermination
If the infestation is severe, you may need to call a professional exterminator who will eliminate bugs from your home, including sofas and wardrobes but can also find where they potentially came from and thus prevent a return.
The cost is therefore dependent on the size of your home and can range from €200 for a 25 square metre flat to €700 for 100 square metres. You must also factor in the potential added price of a hotel room as the extermination usually takes a day, with another visit a week later.
If you live in a flat, extermination costs can be shared if the infestation is shown to have spread through common areas and walls. Otherwise, whether you are an owner or tenant, paying for the extermination is your responsibility.
In France, very few home insurances include pest extermination but there are dedicated bedbug insurances, such as BadBugs, for €2 a month. This insurance covers up to €500 for the cost of the extermination, up to €80 per night and per person for a hotel, and psychological counselling to help deal with insomnia and anxiety.
*Study conducted by the survey company IPSOS on behalf of the French Health and Safety Authority ANSES