France is grappling with a growing bedbug crisis that has ignited both panic and political controversy.
Paris city hall has called for urgent measures to address the infestation of these bloodsucking insects before the upcoming Olympic Games, while the transport minister has summoned train and bus operators to prevent the bugs from spreading on seats.
Reports of bedbugs infesting Paris’ local transport system, high-speed trains, and Charles de Gaulle airport have triggered widespread alarm and disgust among travelers. Some passengers have even vowed to stand rather than sit on public transportation to avoid potential encounters with the pests. This issue has prompted cinema companies to issue statements on how they treat seats, and fumigation companies are experiencing a surge in demand for clearing private homes of bedbugs.
Transport Minister Clément Beaune has announced plans to convene a meeting with public transport operators to discuss countermeasures and enhance traveler protection. His aim is to “reassure and protect” passengers from the bedbug threat.
Paris city hall representatives have appealed to Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne for the creation of a dedicated national task force to combat what they describe as a “scourge” of bedbugs. Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire emphasized that no one is immune to these pests, and the government must take swift and efficient action at all levels to address the problem. Low-income households, in particular, struggle to afford the high costs of private fumigation services.
Bedbugs, which had largely disappeared from daily life in the 1950s, have made a resurgence in recent decades and have developed resistance to chemical treatments. They can hide not only in mattresses but also in clothing and luggage, emerging at night to feed on human blood. Beyond the physical nuisance, they often cause psychological distress, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.
The French national health and sanitary body, Anses, revealed that between 2017 and 2022, 11% of French homes had been infested with bedbugs.
The urgency of addressing this issue has prompted calls from various quarters, including Mathilde Panot, head of the leftwing La France Insoumise party in parliament. She emphasized that bedbugs have wreaked havoc on millions of families in France and called for the government to recognize it as a public health problem.