Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist
There is a story making the rounds on the internet these days. It goes like this:
Hi All: A bit of information that you might like to know about. We have friends here in our community and one of their sons is an entomologist (insect expert), and has been telling them that there is an epidemic of bed bugs now occurring in America. Recently I have heard on the news that several stores in NYC have had to close due to bed bug problems, as well as a complete mall in New Jersey.
It is true that we are experiencing a significant increase in bed bug problems that has reached epidemic proportions. It is also true that a few retail stores have had bed bug problems and have had to temporarily close. However the rest of the story is unnecessarily alarmist and untrue.
While some clothing stores have found bed bugs, it is not because they were brought into the store on new clothes but rather they hitchhiked into stores on individuals that entered them. Fortunately, the incidence of bed bugs in clothing stores has been rare and owners have taken steps to prevent and better deal with bed bug problems. Because bed bugs would have a hard time finding a person resting for a period of time in clothing store, it is difficult for them to establish a reproducing colony which greatly reduces the risk of someone accidentally bringing bed bugs homes with them.
The idea that you need to worry about clothes you buy, especially those made in Asia, is an unfounded and false statement. The chances of bed bugs inadvertently hitching a ride in new clothes is extremely remote and there are not any known cases of this actually happening. If this was true, we would be routinely seeing bed bugs associated with clothing stores, instead of rarely.
This letter looks like it was meant to alarm and frighten people. Ignore it and continue to buy new clothes as you normally would. We have enough in things in our lives that gives us stress without unnecessarily adding to the list.