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Bed bugs have managed to stay out of the media’s eye for quite some time, but stories like this one, which have been popping up all over the internet this summer, are alarming:
At Atlantic Bed Bug Inspection, we’d add an opinion to the stories you’re hearing about and seeing on the news: the problem on the subways is probably worse than you think.
For every one time a bed bug is spotted on a subway, there’s going to be even more times where bed bugs are there and never seen. It’s inevitable, because there are too many people in New York City fighting a bed bug problem right now, and not much has to happen for a bed bug to hitchhike from one infested home to another. All it takes is for a bed bug to choose a hiding spot that causes it to get hitchhiked out of the home – on a jacket, for example – and that bed bug can wind up on a subway car very easily. What if that bed bug hiding in a person’s jacket walks out of that jacket & onto the jacket of the passenger seated next to him? There’s the problem – the bad luck lottery that we’ve talked about before. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
To be clear, a bed bug’s goal is to insure itself a steady meal, which it can never get in an empty subway car, or empty bus, or empty taxi. A bed bug need human blood to survive, so when subway cars are full of people, and if a bed bug is there already, it should be expected to make its move & and seize its opportunity to get out of the subway the first chance it gets. In a bed bug’s perfect world, it’s going to hitchhike its way back to a place where it can insure itself a meal & then many more meals after that. That place is almost always going to be a person’s home.
The bigger picture is that the subway in itself isn’t the problem, nor is the MTA. The MTA could have the most advanced heat systems in the world – they could heat every single subway car every single night – and they’d be doing so to no avail, because as soon as a passenger with a bed bug problem at home accidentally transports a bed bug into the subway, the subway system’s back to square one. The problem can reboot every day, and the 21 incidents the MTA is aware of is going to be more incidents that never get reported. Bed bugs will get on the train at one stop, and get off at another stop, without ever being noticed.
Yet, the subway system is a big place, and the amount of confirmed bed bug sightings on the subway has always been very low in any given month. If almost 6 million passengers are riding the subways daily, and if there were exactly 600 cases that could be traced to a subway ride each month, the odds are still very small you could get bed bugs from a subway ride: 1/100th of 1%.
But if those odds are something you’re just not ok with, and, if you have to take the subway every day no matter what, there are practical measure we feel you can take:
- Don’t sit in a subway seat: standing is always better, but your overall goal (even if you have to sit down) should be to never come into contact with other passengers.
- Don’t maintain body contact with any other passenger: or better yet, don’t let other passengers push themselves against you. I say this sincerely – you’re better off waiting for another train than squeezing into a packed subway car, or having other passengers squeeze against you.
- View your surroundings: adult bed bugs are almost 1/4 of an inch big. If you have to sit down, take a quick peek before you do.
- Look at your clothes after your subway ride: look for the obvious, especially on your shoes or pants/slacks. A quick peek can’t hurt.
The bigger picture is, you may take every precaution you can, and may still be the unlucky person that obtains a bed bug problem. That said, please keep in mind that early detection will always be the best way to solve a bed bug infestation, and solve it quickly. Be aware of any bites on your body that just don’t seem right – especially bites that weren’t present when you went to sleep the night before.