Bedbug hotline, website launched in French campaign to eradicate the menace

France thought it had gotten rid of bedbugs in the 1950s, but in recent years the blood-sucking insects have made a comeback.

In response to this unwelcome resurgence, the French government launched an anti-bedbug campaign Thursday, which includes a dedicated website and an information hotline.

“We can all be affected,” reads the website, which provides information on “strict measures” to prevent the spread of the small, flattened insects, which are about the same size as an apple seed.

Bedrooms and living rooms with sofas are at particular risk, and the insects prefer to live in dark areas, the website continues.

The parasites — whose scientific name is Cimex lectularius — feed on human blood and each one can bite up to 90 times in a single night, leaving sores similar to mosquito bites.

Recommended measures to prevent infestations include washing second-hand clothes at 60 degrees Celsius or higher before wearing them, and cleaning used furniture with dry heat before taking it home.

International travel and increasing resistance to insecticides are to blame for the critters’ resurgence, according to the website.

Hotel guests are advised to store their luggage on racks rather than on the floor, and check the bed, mattress and other dark areas before using them.

Upon returning home, travellers should check for bedbugs inside suitcases and vacuum their luggage before throwing the vacuum bag away.

Officials also advise washing clothes in hot water, or heating non-washable items in a tumble dryer.

Such is the scale of Paris’ bedbug problem that former mayoral candidate Benjamin Griveaux had promised to rid the city of the insects in his first 100 days in office, according to the AFP news agency.

However, Griveaux was forced to pull out of the race following the publication of a sexually explicit video he allegedly sent to his mistress.

The insects became a huge problem in New York around 2010, affecting apartments, shops, schools and hospitals. City officials also launched a campaign to fight the pests.

A 2017 study found that bedbugs — just like flies and other insects — have favourite colors.

They really like dark red and black, and they shun dazzling white and bright yellow.

The bugs have had a long time to refine their personal taste; they’ve been around for more than 100 million years.

A 2019 study revealed the insects roamed the earth with dinosaurs, but they probably didn’t feed on dinosaur blood as the ancient animals didn’t keep a “home” for bedbugs to live in.

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