September 12, 2018 by
With the bedbug epidemic on the rise across the world, you might have heard some horror stories recently about bedbugs joining commuters on public transport. There are a number of viral photos and videos doing the rounds on social media, so naturally, people are concerned. We thought we’d cut right to the chase and give you all the information you need about bedbugs on public transport.
Can You Get Bedbugs on Public Transport?
Yes, you can catch bedbugs from bus and train seats. Despite their name, bedbugs aren’t actually limited to beds and can live anywhere that’s soft, warm, and which has a regular food supply. While this means our beds are the perfect home for them as we sleep in them every day, bedbugs are resilient and can make a home on the sofa, in the carpet, in furniture showrooms and charity shops, and on public transport.
Buses, trains, trams, and even taxis are ideal for bedbugs as they’re warm and sheltered, with a steady supply of food (that’s us!) coming and going all day long. As bedbugs need blood meals before they can lay eggs, they can rapidly infest seats on public transport and, on occasion, whole buses and train carriages.
How to Spot Bedbugs on Public Transport Seats
It can be tricky, but spotting bedbugs on public transport seating is possible. Before you sit down, inspect the seat closely to see if there are any bedbugs lurking on the surface. If there are any crevices in the seat, make sure you check those too as these darker, warmer areas are where the bedbugs are likely to be.
If you can’t see any bedbugs on the surface of the seat, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to sit down! Brush your hands over the surface of the seat and check your palms. Bedbugs leave eggs, discarded shells, and powdery brownish-red droppings wherever they go, so if you notice any of this on your hand after brushing the seat, the seat may well be infested and you should stay away.
What to Do if You Find Bedbugs on Public Transport Seats
This might sound obvious, but don’t sit down! Bedbugs aren’t like fleas; they’re quite slow and can’t jump. This means simply staying away from the infested seat in question should keep you safe. If you do sit down, however, you’re asking for trouble. Bedbugs are extremely resilient and can easily hitch a ride home in your clothes, where they can lay hundreds of eggs and infest your whole home in a matter of weeks.
Snap a picture on your phone if you can and make sure you inform a member of staff about the bedbug infestation as soon as possible. When you get home, try not to touch anything just in case. Take the clothes you’re wearing and put them straight in the washing machine on a hot cycle as soon as you get in.
If you’ve been on the bus or tube with a dog, make sure you give it a bath immediately. One of the many misconceptions about bedbugs is that they only feed on human blood; this isn’t true! Bedbugs aren’t picky and, while they prefer feeding on humans as we don’t have thick fur to get in the way, they can survive on animals in a pinch. When it comes to bedbugs, there’s no such thing as being too careful.
How to Protect Yourself Against Bedbugs on Public Transport
If you know you have to catch the bus or the tube somewhere, put on some insect repellent like Deet. Deet is good for bedbugs as it contains pyrethrin, the same substance that’s used in professional bedbug killers. Wearing Deet insect repellent while you’re on public transport should keep you protected from bedbugs even if you manage to miss them on the seats. This isn’t to say it’s a good idea to sit down on a bus seat that you can see is infested with bedbugs just because you’re covered in insect repellent – bedbugs can become resistant to insect repellents so, while you should be safe, it’s not a good idea to tempt fate!
Am I at Risk from Getting Bedbugs on Public Transport?
Some areas are more at risk than others. Despite what you may have heard, bedbugs are not necessarily attracted to dirt, so just because you’re travelling through an area that looks well-kept and hygienic doesn’t mean you’re safe from bedbugs. What does put you more at risk is if you live in a built-up area that regularly has busy public transport. Central London has the most infested public transport, so be extra-vigilant if you’re using the bus or tube across the City. Cities like Cambridge, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Leicester are also bedbug hotspots. Yorkshire and the South West see the fewest number of bedbugs per year, meaning if you live in those regions you’re much less likely to pick up bedbugs on public transport, however, the rise in bedbug numbers across the board means it’s always wise to be prepared.
How to Stop Bedbugs from Infesting Your Home
If you’re worried about picking up bedbugs from a bus seat, it’s wise to be prepared at home. Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, but being prepared is half the battle. If you live in a built-up area like Greater London, it’s smart to look at some anti-bedbug mattress covers. These mattress covers fit over your bed like a fitted sheet, and while they don’t kill bedbugs themselves, they do stop bedbugs from getting inside your mattress. This makes them much easier to spot so you can catch them earlier and get rid of them without turning to expensive exterminators.
How to Get Rid of Bedbugs
We recommend you read this guide on how to get rid of bedbugs. The short version is that, if you’re dealing with bedbugs, you should always use multiple different types of bedbug killer and always re-treat the area after you’ve treated it once. Bedbugs are extremely tough and they lay a lot of eggs very quickly, so you’ll need multiple prongs of attack to get rid of them. For example, a smoke bomb alone might not kill every bedbug, so you’ll need a dusting powder and a Biopren spray to make sure you mop up the remaining ones. Re-treating the area again will make sure you catch any bedbugs that might have hatched after your initial treatment.
If you have a bedbug mattress cover on your bed you’ll find your bedbug killers are much more effective as the pests won’t be able to hide in the core of your mattress.
It can be quite overwhelming, but being aware of the risks of seating on public transport can help save you a lot of headaches. Bedbugs aren’t going anywhere – the sharp rise in bedbug numbers across the world proves that – so it’s always a good idea to know what you’re up against.