And even if a dog can sniff out the insects, he can’t get rid of them. This has to be done by people. Paris pest control companies are also doing good business.
At Hygiène Premium, which specializes in insect and rat control, around 40 to 50 percent of callers traditionally have problems with bed bugs. “That’s eight out of ten people,” says Sacha Krief, assistant manager. Overall, his company saw a 30 percent increase in the number of bed bug treatment cases.
According to Anses, France’s national health agency, the average cost of getting rid of bed bugs is 890 euros ($937), but in Paris the price is often even higher. “It can be up to 1,000, 2,000, even 3,000 euros. Not many people can withdraw that from their bank account overnight,” said Antoine Demière, adviser to Paris’s first deputy in charge of urban planning. Given the large amounts of money involved, a national registry of certified companies is in the works to prevent unscrupulous actors from defrauding customers. In recent months, 40 cases of bed bug-related fraud have been reported to the French Consumer Affairs Directorate.
Social tenants are protected from these high prices thanks to a 2020 agreement signed between the town hall and social housing groups. Each household pays an additional 4 euros per year for rent; in the event of a bed bug infestation, the city will remove them free of charge. “Our top priority is to protect low-income Parisians,” explains Demière. “We are helping the poorer population not because they are more susceptible to bed bugs, but because they are less able to pay thousands of euros to disinfect their home.”
But it can take up to several weeks for public housing groups to hire private pest control companies to address the problem — far too long to contain the crisis, Ducomte says.
Traditionally, these companies have used chemicals to combat bed bugs, but they are using them less and less, says Bérenger: “The European Union now bans the use of some of these agents, and people are becoming less and less interested in having chemical products around the house .” .” Bed bugs are also becoming more resistant, he says. “They will not die, but will simply move to another apartment, especially if the protocol is not implemented professionally.”
For these reasons, French companies are now prioritizing “mechanical solutions”. The main three are steam treatment, cryogenic technologies and heat guns – the aim is to kill bed bugs and their eggs using either very high or very low temperatures. These processes are more expensive than chemical ones because they require more personnel but also save a lot of time.