BED bugs are rampant in a major European destination currently with officials warning “no one is safe” — so it’s important you know how to spot them.
Paris is being besieged by the tiny bloodsuckers, which have been found on train seats and inside the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle airport in recent weeks.
Experts have identified a strange telltale sign of the bugs to help you spot an infestation — their smell.
The critters have a distinctive sweet, musty smell, which could indicate their presence if there are no other obvious causes.
A Dodson Pest Control spokesperson said: “Bed bugs can smell different to different people.
“Many people report smelling coriander, but another common description is the scent of spoiled raspberries.
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“Others report a strong acidic scent or that of almonds or marzipan. If you notice an unusual smell in an otherwise clean room, it may be time to call in a professional.”
However, experts warn going off smell alone may not always work.
Robert Fryers, of Spotta, a smart insect monitoring company that has been called upon to address the Paris infestations, said: "Detecting bed bugs by smell isn't easy.
"By the time it's obvious you have a really severe infestation.
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"Sniffer dogs can be trained to identify them early, but it's expensive so it's not a popular method and most places that do use them only get them to visit every few months.
"You can get a lot of bed bugs in those few months."
Bed bugs have been spotted in hotels and apartments across Paris, as well as the city’s metro system.
Some fear the bugs could be headed to Britain, with holidaymakers bringing them back in clothing and bags.
Professor James Logan, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “Bed bugs are found globally — there will already be bed bugs in the UK, just as there are in Paris.
“Bed bugs are good hitchhikers and could easily be brought from Paris to the UK, but could just as easily go from the UK to Paris.
“It is unlikely that Paris is significantly worse than other places, although they may be unlucky right now with a bit of a bed bug boom.”
Mr Fryers added: "Bed bugs have been a growing problem for the last decade across Europe due to insecticide resistance and the banning of previously effective pesticides.
"They move around on people's bags and clothes, so the populations fell back during Covid when everyone was staying home.
"Now that international travel is back on they're coming back strongly and we expect the problem to continue growing year on year."
Bed bug bites are itchy but do not normally cause other health problems, according to the NHS.
They hide in many places, including bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture and under loose wallpaper.
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Bites usually clear up in a week or two but you can also put a cool, damp cloth on the affected area to soothe itching and swelling.
You should avoid scratching the bites and keep the affected area clean to avoid the chances of an infection.
How to exterminate bed bugs
If you think you have bedbugs, you should contact your local council or pest control service.
It's very difficult to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be hard to find and may be resistant to some insecticides.
There are some things you can try yourself, but these are unlikely to get rid of bedbugs completely.
- wash affected bedding and clothing on a hot wash (60C) and tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes
- put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 3 or 4 days
- clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early
- do not keep clutter around your bed
- do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first
- do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs
Source: The NHS
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