In metropolitan centers, public transit is often the best mode of transportation. Trains, buses, subway, and ridesharing are a great way to commute and lessen your carbon footprint. However, while you’re traveling with your fellow passengers, you also might be riding alongside bed bugs eager to hitch a ride out on you.
Bed Bugs Infest Buses in Philadelphia
A recent example came from CBS Philadelphia; the news station released a video of a bus crawling with bed bugs. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority is aware of the problem and has equipped 500 buses with plastic interiors that are easy to clean and fumigate. However, within the city, there are still 900 buses in use that feature cloth interiors. The plan is to also retrofit these buses with plastic interiors, but it could take up to four years. If you are riding on public transit, then you should be aware of the risk of bringing home bed bugs.
Why Do Bed Bugs Infest Public Transportation?
Public transportation is the perfect home for bed bugs. The seats and interior have innumerable nooks and crannies to hide in. When a passenger sits down, bed bugs can sneak out and enjoy a meal and the person will likely be unaware due to the powerful anesthetic contained in the bed bug’s bite. After the bed bug feeds, it can either scurry back to its hiding place or hide in the confines of your clothing. Once you get home or to your office, the bed bug leaves your clothing and sets up residence.
Increased Risk in Summer
Summer is right around the corner and that means that the mercury will be climbing. During warmer weather, the bed bug’s reproduction cycle shortens to only eight to nine days. Also, during the warm months' people tend to travel more, staying in accommodations that are potentially infested and taking various modes of public transit.
The Risk of Airports and Stations
Bus, subway, train stations and airports are also at risk for bed bug infestations. While the train or plane that you climb aboard might be free of bed bugs, you can still conceivably pick up the pests from the seats in the station or airport lobby. All of these sites are at risk because they are where people gather and sit for extended periods of time waiting for their scheduled train or plane.
How to Avoid Picking up Bed Bugs on Public Transit
Here are some methods for avoiding bed bugs during your travels:
- Stand Don’t Sit: Of course, no one wants to stand on a bus, train, or subway, but it’s better than sitting in the seats. You should stand holding onto the bar and avoid letting your clothing touch the seats. Also, keep your luggage elevated when possible.
- Sitting Down: If you must sit down then carefully examine the seats. Look for live bugs, exoskeletons or fecal spots that look like flecks or dots of dark blood.
- Holding Your Items: Hold your personal items in your lap. Never set them on the ground or under the seat. Avoid bins that are often located overhead and the trunks of cars where your belongings may encounter others.
- Plastic Seats: Do not be lulled into believing that just because public transport has plastic seating then the area is safe. Even though plastic seating is not ideal for bed bugs, they are opportunists and will readily make use of any bends or crevices in the plastic to hide.
- Going Home: When you arrive home, you should promptly disrobe and wash and dry your clothes on a hot setting to kill any bed bug hijackers. If you were carrying a bag, inspect it closely to make sure that there are no bed bugs hidden within its confines. You can also treat it with a bed bug spray as a preventative measure.
- Luggage and Bags: If you frequently take public transport then you should consider investing in bed bug bags for your luggage. Bed bug bags are large encasements made of plastic. It seals your items safely inside, eliminating the chance of a bed bug invading.
Even if you follow all of this advice you will still be at increased risk of bed bugs if you use public transit. You should always watch for signs of an infestation at your home so you can catch the problem early on. Bed bugs on public transit are a very real hazard and one that you should be aware of. The tips listed will help keep you bed bug-free.
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