Toronto fights bed bugs with signs

Once almost completely eradicated from the U.S., bedbugs are back with a vengeance. First spotted in hotels on the east coast, they’re now making themselves at home in movie theaters, office buildings, apartments, public buildings, and college dorms all over the country.

Recent bedbug attacks:
• New York: Abercrombie & Fitch, Niketown, several major movie theaters, and Google’s headquarters were shuttered to eradicate a bedbug infestation
• Chicago; citywide alerts issued and task forces convened
• Bloomington, Indiana; a bed bug infestation is so extreme the city bought new equipment that fries bedbugs with heat
• Toronto: bedbugs infested many major public buildings including Etobicoke Hospital
• Los Angeles, infestations are turning up all over the city, primarily in residential neighborhoods
• Denver; bedbugs got so bad that the public library had to destroy a rare book collection
• Boston; colleges and universities have students on alert when moving into dorms
•All over Ohio; the state convened a special task force of the EPA to look for solutions, including an excmption to allow the indoor use of a banned pesticide, propoxur (the exemption has failed so far)

I’ve been asked to narrate some videos about how to fight bedbugs, so in preparation I’ve assembled my best tips.

Bedbug art adorns a NYC street

The best way to protect yourself from bedbugs is not to get them in the first place. And the way to ensure your home stays bedbug-free is not to bring them home with you.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid bedbugs if you don’t know what they look like. Check for tiny critters about the size and color of a sesame seed. They are often almost transparent so they can be hard to spot.

You can best spot bedbugs in your home by taking the sheets off the mattress and looking for telltale signs of their presence such as dark spots around the edges.

Even if you don’t see any signs of bedbugs, take steps to protect yourself and your stuff. When you travel, use a luggage rack to keep your suitcase off the floor, and pull the rack away from the wall.

Don’t leave clothes draped over chairs or on the floor or bed. I keep my clothes and other belongings inside ziploc plastic bags in my suitcase just to be sure.

When you return from a trip, wash all clothes and dry them in a hot dryer and leave your suitcase outside for a couple of weeks or enclose it in a plastic garbage bag.