Avoiding Bed Bug Infestations On Urban Public Transportation

If you regularly commute into New York City and take public transportation along the way, you may find yourself wondering about recent reports of bedbugs lurking on both subway trains and buses. These tenacious little pests use public transportation vehicles as hubs from which to expand, catching a ride with any unfortunate passerby to begin new colonies in unsuspecting homes. But what are the chances that you will pick up bedbugs from any particular subway car, and what can you do to discourage unwanted hitchhikers? 

Understanding Your Odds

Even with the knowledge that there may be bed bugs present on some MTA subway trains or bus lines, you still need to get to work and home again. The exact extent of the current bed bug infestation in New York is unknown, but researchers have found that there are enough bedbug colonies within the subway system alone for populations to begin drifting apart genetically. Still, many people travel through the subway every day without picking up an unwelcome guest, and there are steps you can take to avoid these bugs. 

Remaining Standing During Your Commute

One of the best ways to protect yourself from bed bugs while on public transportation is to remain standing whenever possible. Bed bugs hide in dark crevices, preferably within the folds of fabric. They then emerge when they sense the presence of a potential host to either feed or hop on their own version of public transportation. The seats of buses and subway trains are an ideal hiding spot, so the less you can expose yourself to them, the better off you will be. 

Keeping Hold of Your Belongings

Another mistake many commuters make is to set down their bags, purses, briefcases and other belongings while on the subway. Bedbugs do not need to be in contact with a human to survive, and they are happy to crawl into even the smallest openings of a bag, jacket or similar item. By keeping your possessions elevated and close to you, you can also keep them out of reach of any resident bed bugs. 

Responding to Infestations Quickly

Even when you are as careful as possible, you may still pick up a bedbug through no fault of your own on the bus or subway. If a single pregnant female gains entry into your home, a whole colony can soon take root and flourish. Immediately after you notice the characteristic bites or fecal remains of bedbugs or spot one on your sheets, call a bed bug exterminator to have the problem resolved before they can grow too numerous to be eradicated easily. The faster you act, the more likely you are to be successful in dealing with these irritating parasites.