We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – bed bugs will turn up in the most surprising places. This news item out of Florida helps to prove our point. The story made national headlines, and it helps to illustrate just how wide spread the current bed bug problem has become. In November, shoppers at the Port Charlotte Town Center Mall reported finding bed bugs in clothing they had purchased at several of the shopping center’s retailers. The customers took their story to the local news outlets, and it’s since spread like wildfire (or like a bed bug invasion). The South Florida mall and its resident retailers are currently investigating, and have assured the public that they will be taking the necessary steps to address any possible infestation.

One couple, after purchasing a sweater from the Town Center’s American Eagle Outfitters, learned the hard way that it pays to closely inspect your purchases before taking them home. A few days after wearing the new sweater the man noticed red marks on his arms and legs. Sure enough, it turned out he had been the victim of bed bugs. After his girlfriend told their story on social media other shoppers at the Port Charlotte mall reported similar experiences. One woman claimed she had found bed bugs in jeans she had purchased at the mall, and a third person recounted finding bed bugs on a sweater she and her daughter were considering buying from Rue21 (another shop in the same Port Charlotte mall).

This story of bed bugs in shopping centers is a good illustration of just how pervasive the bed bug problem has become. These bothersome beasts can turn up anywhere, and it only takes a few stray bugs to set up a colony and lay the groundwork for a full scale infestation. It’s a good reminder that when you purchase new clothing it’s always a good idea to give the items a good wash and tumble dry before mixing them in with your existing wardrobe. An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure, as they say, especially when it comes to bed bugs.