As the Rugby World Cup tournament ended in October, many fans made their way back home to every corner of the globe. And while many returned with fan memorabilia and other trinkets, there may have been some unwanted guests hitching a ride in the luggage, as it’s been reported that the French city of Paris currently has a bedbug infestation. Apparently, the tiny critters have been spotted everywhere, from public transport to hotel beds.

This is what to look out for if you have not seen bedbugs before:
Bedbugs are small, flat, wingless insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They are typically reddish-brown in colour and about the size of an apple seed. However, because they are nocturnal, they hide during the day in cracks and crevices on beds, furniture and other objects, making them very hard to detect. Bedbugs thrive in temperatures of about 18ºC.

Even though you might not be able to see them, you will certainly know that they are present because there are clear signs to alert you to their presence.

Bedbug bites are usually painless and appear as small red bumps on the skin, which may be itchy or irritating.
Bedbugs can leave bloodstains on bedding, mattresses and other fabrics.
Bedbugs shed their exoskeletons as they grow. These exoskeletons can be found in cracks and crevices where bedbugs hide.
The eggs are tiny and white. They can be found in cracks and crevices as well as on bedding and furniture.

Once noticed, this is how to get rid of bedbugs:

Wash and dry infected items
Bedbugs cannot survive high temperatures, so washing infected bedding, clothes and curtains in hot water is an effective way to kill them.
Steam clean
Steam cleaning is an excellent method to kill bedbugs and their eggs on surfaces that can withstand high temperatures. Use a steam cleaner to treat mattresses, furniture and other infected areas.
Use insecticides
Insecticides can be used to treat cracks, crevices and other hard to reach areas where bedbugs may hide. Look for products labelled specifically for bedbug control and follow the instructions carefully.
Professional help
If the bedbug infestation is severe and DIY methods are unsuccessful, it may be necessary to call a professional pest control company as experienced exterminators have the knowledge and tools to effectively eliminate bedbugs.

Tips to help prevent bedbugs:

1. When travelling, rather than placing your suitcase on the bed or luggage rack – both bedbug hotspots – place it on the floor some distance away.

2. Upon your return from travelling, inspect your luggage before bringing it into your home. Look for bedbugs or signs of a bedbug infestation, such as bloodstains, exoskeletons or eggs.

3. Wash your bedding in hot water and dry it on high heat regularly. This will kill any bedbugs that may be present.

4. Vacuum mattresses and furniture regularly especially in cracks and crevices where they may hide.