"Like Covid with legs" — bedbug infestation in Paris is driving people to extreme behavior

Originally published at: "Like Covid with legs" — bedbug infestation in Paris is driving people to extreme behavior | Boing Boing


There is a well-known psychological component to bedbug problems alright, that can manifest itself in various ways, and that component can kick in before or without any actual problem. There are stories of people moving house multiple times and convinced the bugs have followed them each time, despite taking every precautions (note, they CAN move with you, the stories about their resilience, hibernation and stowing away are true). I’ve seen this personally albeit not quite that bad.

Plus, of course, actual infestations can be truly terrible, life-disrupting, psych-scarring - real Holmes-Rahe stuff - so people are naturally afraid of that.

Also there’s a major sports event on in Paris at the moment (the Rugby World Cup) leading to additional fears re. mobility, spreading, heavier rotation of rental accommodation, etc.


I dealt with bedbugs a couple of years ago, somehow they spared my gf but I got bit a few times. I caught it early enough though that after a single treatment the problem was solved but I pretty much spent the rest of the year being paranoid that they’d come back. I put down powder, bug spray, steamed my mattress and bagged it just in case. For really bad outbreaks I can’t imagine how much effort it’d take to get rid of them


Bug Powder, eh?



It’s supposed to get rid of nearly 90% and is non toxic.


We struggled with them in our apartment for 7 months, living eventually out of white garbage bags with all the furniture pulled away from the walls. Many treatments and reinfestations. My wife’s anxiety was through the roof, and she was plagued by home-invasion nightmares.

Finally, the pest control pro knocked on our downstairs neighbors’ door and found out they were fully jnfested and were just “spraying some Raid before bed.” We threw out everything and moved. It was a great apartment, otherwise.

Bedbugs do need to be treated like a public health issue. Individuals, cowering alone, paranoid and ashamed isn’t a great approach.


I find it amusing that the success of targeted cockroach killing pesticides has decreased the cockroaches that used to eat bedbug eggs … ensuring higher levels of bedbugs,


struggled with them in our apartment for 7 months

Unless the whole building is treated, it’s a losing battle. Because they will re-infest any area that has killed off the resident population.


OMG @HMSGoose that’s a nightmare, deeply sorry to hear about that. I can’t imagine.

Just in case I wasn’t clear, I didn’t mean to imply that any part of the horrors of a bedbug infestation was “just in the mind” or anything like that - what I was trying to get at was that they’re so terrible that once you know about them, either from experience or research, they can take a weird and terrible hold on the mind. I learned this through a loved one having a very mild and thankfully quickly aborted problem, but they subsequently refused to ever believe the bugs were gone, despite multiple careful and expert investigations, nobody else in the house (indeed same room) ever being bitten, no physical evidence of them for five years. They believed the bugs followed them everywhere - which is totally possible, but in this case it included holidays, family homes, hospital and eventually hospice stays where others used the same room, sometimes the same bed, without any untoward signs. It became an all-encompassing obsession, a sense of persecution and helplessness, and a constant topic of conversation. I shudder to think of the money and effort spent on poisons and powders and heat cabinets for clothes and plastic over everything and crazy gimmicky gadgets that were never going to work…
After all approaches had failed, and we had tried everything we could find to reassure them, they realised nobody else believed in these bugs (because they really, really weren’t there: they were long gone) and withdrew into themselves, becoming isolated, slightly resentful and somewhat paranoid.

From what I’ve read, ours was a relatively mild case. Bedbugs are indeed a public health issue as you say, a massive one. Best wishes.


Oh no, on the contrary, I appreciated what you said about bedbugs having this psychological impact on top of the physical impact of the welts. I was building on that with my comments (and I guess even 13 years later, take any organic opportunity to unload again!)

We bought a clothes steamer and would ritualistically steam the seams of our mattress for years even after we moved, that at least was calming and meditative in a way. But The first mosquito bites each spring sent us into a panic. I can’t even imagine if the little bastards did ever start carrying blood diseases, whic ironically, mosquitos do. We buried ourselves in research and talked endlessly to people as well. I almost wonder if they are a significant part of vampire origins. Honestly wouldn’t be surprised if their saliva were eventually discovered to have a psychoactive ingredient.


Supposedly only about half of humanity is allergic/react to their saliva.

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Oooh, those are both compelling, intriguing and very believable possibilities :scream:


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