Paris is the latest city to fall victim to widespread bed-bug infestations.

Following in the creepy-crawly footsteps of cities like New York and Montreal, figures from the French CS3D union of pest controllers show more than 180,000 bed bug infestations were reported across France last year.

Here’s everything you need to know about the little bloodsuckers and how to spot them.

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What are bed bugs and how do they spread so easily?

Bedbugs are nocturnal parasites that bite exposed skin and feed on human blood. They measure up to 6mm in length, but the adolescent ‘nymphs’ are smaller than a pinhead, making the species hard to spot and eradicate.

“They are very flat and can fit through very small gaps,” says Natalie Bungay, a technical officer with the British Pest Control Association . “They can also spread from room to room via people coming in and changing the bed sheets.”

But how did the little critters get into the hotel in the first place? Unfortunately, tourists are key culprits.

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“If you stay in a room with bed bugs and leave your bags lying on the bed or floor, a few ‘hitch-hiking’ bed bugs could make their way into the luggage… only to re-emerge when you are home or wherever you may be going on to,” says Bungay.

How can you spot bed bugs?

If you think you may be sharing your bed with the unwelcome guests, there are several actions you can take to confirm your suspicions.

Beg bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices during the daytime. This can be in the more obvious places you’d think of, like the seams of mattresses and the bed frame, but also be sure to check picture frames, bedside tables and anywhere that has small gaps in which they can hide.

Bungay says there are other signs to look for such as “droppings on your bedding”.

“You may get smear marks, which look like a smeared ink spot.”

“You may also find blood spots. When they are feeding on you at night, they defecate ever so slightly and you can find those blood spots on your sheets, or from where you’ve been scratching.”

But there are plenty of other insects that bite, so bedbugs aren’t always to blame.

What should you do if you find bed bugs in your hotel?

If you have found any of the signs detailed above, contact reception immediately. Most hotels, especially those serving food, should have a contract with a pest control company. Not only will they inspect your room, they may even enlist the help of a sniffer dog.

Photo credit: Rentokil Pest Control

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