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Paris accuses Moscow of “bed bug scaremongering.”

In the summer of 2023, bed bugs were free in France – at least in the public eye. The French government now suspects that Russia has deliberately stirred up panic here.

The French “bed bug panic” that made international headlines last fall was fueled by Russia, according to the government in Paris. The issue was “inflated in online services by accounts that are connected to Russia,” Europe Minister Jean-Noël Barrot told broadcaster TF1.

“There was even a false connection between the arrival of Ukrainian refugees and the spread of bed bugs,” the minister explained. “This was spread by accounts linked to the Kremlin.”

French European Minister Jean-Noël Barrot makes allegations against Russia.

After the end of the 2023 summer holidays, the nocturnal crawlers, which feed on human blood, received enormous attention in online services and ultimately in international media. A shaky video of an unidentifiable insect crawling across the seat of a train in broad daylight attracted millions of viewers. The New York Times described the French as having a “collective post-Covid psychosis” because of their bed bug panic.

Just no bed bugs at the Olympics

People increasingly reported suspected or actual bed bugs from trains, cinemas and other places – proven by photos of the parasites. The government had taken the issue very seriously, also with a view to the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024, and called several crisis meetings at ministerial level. Numerous classrooms and cinemas had been cleared and thoroughly cleaned, although in some cases it was purely preventive.

According to authorities, the prevalence of bed bugs has actually increased in recent years. Between 2017 and 2022, an estimated eleven percent of all French households were affected by bed bugs. Since the beginning of this year, bed bugs have largely disappeared from attention.

Last year there were great fears in France that bed bugs could become more widespread.

An authority against destabilization

France set up an authority in 2021 to detect foreign attempts to destabilize public opinion. According to the French government, such actions from Russia have increased massively since the start of the Ukraine war. There is currently great concern that such cyber attacks could continue to increase with a view to the Olympic Games.

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