Are Bedbugs Taking Over New York City? Headlines May Say One Thing, But Data Says Another

bedbugAre bedbugs getting out of control in New York City? The pesky, blood-sucking parasites seem to be spreading throughout the city, and have caused subway delays and even shut down offices. However, new data from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development suggests that the problem might not be as serious as all that.

In early September, an A train and at least three R trains from New York City’s mass transit system were reportedly taken out of service after sightings of bedbugs. In August, there were 21 bedbug sightings, which affected six lines and the A, L, N, Q, 3, 4, 5, and 6 lines. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed the presence of bedbugs on 16 trains, which were then fumigated.

Although there have only been sightings in September — meaning no bedbugs have reportedly been found on the trains — Joe Costales, a chairman with Transport Workers Union Local 100, said that, “the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] is losing the war on bed bugs.”

Subways aren’t the only ones struggling with the tiny fiends. Pacific Investment Management Co.’s midtown Manhattan offices reportedly had to be evacuated after a severe infestation of bedbugs.

A Goldman Sachs stock trader who regularly works with PIMCO said that although it was “business as usual” with their dealings, employees were also “freaked out” over the fact that their clothes and bags may harbor the fiendish parasites.

“Our New York office is addressing an isolated issue with insects, and as a precautionary measure the firm is fumigating certain areas of the office space,” said a PIMCO spokesperson. “During this period our employees are working remotely and we expect to resume full on-premises staffing over the coming days. This is an issue that is far from uncommon in New York City.”

Although these recent incidents may make it seem like bedbugs are taking over NYC, infestations are actually on the decline, according to new data from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Across the Big Apple, bedbug infestations were cut by nearly 53% — dropping from 4,808 incidents in 2010 to 2,268 in 2013.

While scaremongering, sensationalist headlines may make it feel like bedbugs are everywhere, they’re actually a smaller problem now than in years, and they’ll stay that way — just so long as everyone keeps their spaces and themselves clean.