Paris is the city of love – and recently also of bed bugs. Since the end of the summer holidays, there have been increasing reports of a real plague of nocturnal parasites. On social media, people document in their videos how the pests cavort under the seats in public transport or crawl shamelessly under the mattresses in hotel beds.
The French government is under pressure to get rid of the uninvited crawling guests before the start of the Olympic Games next year. But how can you protect yourself from the flat, reddish-brown pests?
Expert advises: Never unpack your suitcase on the floor or bed in a hotel room
No one has a better answer to this question than Professor Changlu Wang from Rutgers University in New York (USA). A few years ago, he removed the pests from 42 high-rise apartments in the US state of New Jersey that were infested with bed bugs. In an interview with “Spiegel,” Wang explains what keeps the bedbugs away.
In order to avoid bringing the insects into your home in the first place, the researcher advises sealing your clothing in plastic bags when traveling – especially dirty laundry. “Anything that smells like people and sweat is attractive to bed bugs. Shoes also smell delicious to them,” he says. Suitcases should never be unpacked and stored on the bed or on the floor, as the bugs could crawl into the luggage from there.
If you’re worried about being in a room infected with bedbugs, Wang recommends sitting on plastic chairs. After all, the animals like to hide in cushions.
Lift mattresses and check for bedbugs
The chairwoman of the Association for the Promotion of Ecological Pest Control, Bärbel Holl, added in an interview with the German Press Agency that travelers should lift their mattresses after entering the hotel room and check whether there are any bedbugs there. If you don’t want to be surprised, pack a special sheet in your suitcase at home. “There are bed bug protection sheets that you can take with you when you travel. They are so slippery that the animals cannot find a grip on them and slip off,” says Holl.
When you get home, it’s best to shake out your clothes one piece at a time. “I always recommend the bathroom because I can wash away animals in the shower or bathtub. I also look in every crack in the suitcase or bag to see if there are any animals inside,” says the club chairwoman.
You should also shake the shoes well and wash them or put them in a plastic bag in the freezer for three days. At best, the dirty laundry goes straight into the washing machine, says Professor Wang.
Those affected should still sleep in the infested bed – otherwise the bugs will migrate
If, despite all the precautionary measures, the bed bugs have also traveled home and spread there, the only solution is a large-scale cleaning operation: wash bed linen, pillows and blankets every few days at at least 50 degrees, tidy up the area around the bed and the mattress Put it in a protective cover for a year and treat everything that cannot be washed or sealed with hot steam from a steam cleaner.
Once the pests have made themselves comfortable in bed, those affected must under no circumstances change their sleeping place. “Sleep in bed – as bait. For example, if you move to the sofa, it’s possible that the bed bugs will start looking for you and then another room will be infested,” says the researcher. A sofa is more difficult to save than a bed because there are more places to hide.
Diatomaceous earth dries out pests
Wang doesn’t think much of using a chemical weapon against the bugs. Ultimately, the bugs become more and more resistant to chemical control agents. His tip: diatomaceous earth. “This powder attaches itself to the chitin shells of insects and dries them out within hours or days,” he says.
Those affected spread a thin film of dust throughout the infected rooms. In the bedroom, the powder is poured around the bed and in corners and niches. “Basically you just have to make sure that they crawl through the dust on the way to bed,” explains the entomologist. However, those affected should urgently wear a mask when using it. Finally, the dust can cause a scratchy throat.
If nothing helps, the only option left is an exterminator.