Bed bug sightings plummet as COVID-19 makes it harder for them to spread
OTTAWA -- Of the very few good things to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, bed bug sightings plummeted in 2020.
In a report released on Tuesday from Orkin Canada, bed bug sightings dropped by 20 per cent in 2020, marking the first decline in the five-year history of the report.
Bernie Grafe, Orkin Canada’s branch manager for the Greater Toronto Area residential division, said the pandemic is the primary factor behind the decline.
“Bed bugs are hitchhikers,” he said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. “As people move around and visit, travel, go to work, go to public places, hotels, long-term rentals, you name it, they are essentially transporting the bed bugs around.”
“You're not seeing a lot of people congregating in higher percentages and areas, so therefore the bed bugs are just not spreading.”
Grafe said this is a trend Orkin Canada is seeing nationwide, but warned that this decline may go away when the pandemic ends.
“Once the lockdown is released and one day there is a sense of normalcy, we will again see that spike go up just from that natural social behaviour,” he said.
Bed bugscan lie dormant for several months at a time, meaning bugs in an office may still be alive when office work resumes.
“People going back to work who haven’t been in to these environments for the last eight, nine, 10 months, those bed bugs are going to be hungry,” he said.
Grafe said there aren’t any chemical treatments available that can prevent bed bugs from entering the home, meaning vigilance is the best method to keep them from spreading.
“The biggest form of prevention is awareness, and that is through inspections and visually inspecting the environment that you're in, especially with hotels and long-term rentals,” he said.
Grafe said it’s key to inspect the bed, behind picture frames and curtains for any bugs or fecal matter that the bugs may have left behind. He also recommends a thorough inspection of your office setting.
The report also included the Top 25 cities for bed bugs in Canada, with Toronto topping the list, followed by Sudbury, Oshawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg.