Evolutionary biology : Why bedbugs are everywhere. Like bacteria, they have become resistant to chemical attack.

To Ernest Hemingway, Paris was a moveable feast. To a bedbug, so are Parisians.

In videos on social media, the sears of the city's metro are seen swarming with bedbugs, tiny insects no bigger than an apple pip, which feed on human blood.

The health risk from bedbugs is minor : itchy bites and a small risk of allergies and secondary infections. As the present panic suggests, the bigger impact tends to be psychological, says Clive Boase, an entomologist and pest-control consultant.

Mosquitoes, leeches and other parasites are unpleasant but do not colonise your home. If a traveler brings bedbugs back from their holidays, they can start an infestation that can be very difficult to shift.

Schadenfreude among the non-French is unwise.

The story is not so much one of bad hygiene and dirty trains as it is another cautionary tale of globalisation, climate change and evolutionary biology.

The World Students Society thanks The Economist.


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