Bedbugs take Paris

Paris is infested with bedbugs, and the government there is vowing to take "further action" now that it's got to the point where a constant stream of viral videos shows the beasties in action. "No one is safe," admits mayor Emmanuel Gregoire.

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said Friday he would "bring together transport operators next week" to "undertake further action" to "reassure and protect" the public from the reported surge in the numbers of the blood-sucking insect.

The "insecticide-resistant bedbugs" problem was likely caused by slapdash overuse of DDT during the middle of the 20th century. Their slow recovery is now upon us!

DDT was a long-lasting, relatively inexpensive and unrestricted chemical that was used worldwide as an insecticide to control disease-carrying mosquitoes, flies, and lice during and after the World War II [33]. Beginning in 1942, DDT was heavily used to control bed bug infestations in military barracks [9]. The first case of control failure of DDT against C. lectularius was reported in 1947 from the barracks of the Naval Receiving Station in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii [34]. It is noteworthy that bed bugs may have started developing resistance to DDT within 5 years after the product was first used, and the rapid pace of resistance was probably due to the excessive and continuous use of the insecticide. By the 1950s, bed bug resistance to DDT was widespread (Table 3) [3540]. During this period, cross-resistance to pyrethrins was also observed in both C. lectularius (from Israel) and C. hemipterus (from Tanzania) [35]. Although there is abundant literature demonstrating that bed bugs had developed marked resistance to DDT, bed bug infestations decreased dramatically and were effectively reduced to very low levels from the 1950s to the late 1970s in many developed countries. The repetitive and widespread use of DDT and subsequent insecticides (e.g. malathion, chlorpyrifos, and propoxur) had led to the significant decrease of bed bug infestations worldwide [9]. However, bed bug infestations were still a major problem in some developing countries, such as Sierra Leone [14], South Africa and rural Africa [13, 41, 42], as well as problematic in the poultry industry in many countries [8, 28, 43, 44].