I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bed bugs can, and will, turn up just about anywhere. Case in point. Last month bed bugs were discovered on the venerable New York City subway. On the D-train to be specific.
Of course, this isn’t the first time New York City’s public transport system has been troubled by bed bugs. Not by a long shot. It seems like stories about bed bugs and public transportation come around like clockwork. And there’s a good reason for that. Bed bugs go where their hosts go. Naturally, that includes all forms of public transportation including buses, taxis, and subways.
Bed Bug Adventures Outside of the Home
Generally, when people talk about bed bugs they tend to think of them as exclusively household pests. That’s understandable. The majority of infestations do occur in family homes. But bed bugs are mobile pests, and they aren’t afraid to travel. Especially when they’re looking for fresh hosts and new habitats to invade. That’s how they end up infesting everything from government buildings to public facing businesses. That’s how they end up on planes, trains and subways.
All it takes is a passenger carrying a few stray bed bugs on their backpack or overcoat and the stage is set for the spread of these pests. The bed bugs can migrate from a single host onto subway seats only to be picked up by the next passenger passing through. This scenario is repeated over and over, making public transportation of all kinds a hot bed of bed bug activity.
Why do Bed Bugs Like the Subway?
Subways are one of the busiest forms of mass transit. All day long subway cars are full of travelers moving back and forth across the city. With so many people getting on and off the subway every day there’s bound to be a stray bed bug or two hitching along. Remember, it only takes a few bed bugs to start an infestation. These blood-suckers reproduce at an alarming rate and it only takes a handful of active bed bugs to turn a clean subway train or terminal into a hot spot.
With bed bug infestations on the rise throughout the city and across the country it only makes sense that public transport would become a major hub of bed bug activity. And unless someone spots a bed bug on the move the beginnings of a full scale infestation can go unnoticed for months. Moreover, the constant influx of warm bodies allows the bed bugs to feed at their leisure.
As passengers get on and off a subway train of crosstown bus they run the risk of picking up a stray bed bug hitchhiker or two. Those strays can easily be transported to a new environment where they’ll begin breeding a new invasion force.
Protecting Yourself on Subways and Buses
As bed bugs on mass transit becomes more and more common it’s important to know how to protect yourself from picking up and stray hitchhikers and transporting them to your home or office. A few simple tips can help you guard against picking up any unwanted pests.
Stay alert when riding on a subway or crosstown bus. Bed bugs are expert at hiding from their hosts but they aren’t invisible. Keep your eyes peeled for any sign of bed bug activity while riding on any form of public transport.
When riding the subway opt to stand whenever possible. Bed bugs are attracted to upholstered seats and you’re more likely to encounter one when seated than when standing.
Keep bags and backpacks with you. Try to avoid setting them down on the seat. Again, bed bugs are more likely to be found in and around fabric-covered seating so when you set your bags down on a seat you leave them vulnerable infestation.
If you see any sign of bed bug activity, including eggs or shed exoskeletons, notify authorities immediately. You could be the one standing between a simple bed bug sighting and a full scale infestation.
Sharing the D-Train with Bed Bugs
Public transport will likely always be vulnerable to bed bugs and other pests. It is important that we all take steps to protect ourselves when using public transportation and guard against bringing bed bugs into our homes and workplaces.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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