You might not think it when stepping into your ride to work, party, or the airport, but ridesharing is a dirty business. Passengers, some with questionable hygiene, enter and exit vehicles all over the world at all hours of the day, amounting to an insane 14 million rides per day. This high volume not only moves people to and from their destination but also their insect passengers: bedbugs. According to one exterminator in Texas, these tiny ride-sharing stowaways are single-handedly padding his bottom line.
Dallas-Forth Worth is one of the most bed bug-infested cities in the nation, topped only by New York City and Philadelphia. But for Don Brooks, owner of Doffdon Pest Control, the pesky parasites been a profit center, especially as ride-sharing services have expanded the city's transportation infrastructure.
In an interview with local news station WFAA, Brooks explained that his business regularly treats cars used in ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.
"I probably do five to 10 rideshare cars per week," said Brooks. "Drivers either see bed bugs, someone complained, or they were suspicious of a customer and just want to make sure."
Brooks goes on to mention that infestations usually start when a bed bug crawls off of a person. That means, if a person is carrying a bed bug on their clothes or in their purse, they could spread the bugs into the rideshare without even knowing it. Before the owner of the vehicle notices that their vehicle is infested, the bugs could hitch a ride home with any passenger. Couple that with the fact that these insects can live upwards of a year without feeding on blood, and you've described a rather disastrous scenario.
For $250, drivers of these rideshare vehicles can have their cars tented by Brooks' mobile extermination fleet. He also offers a cheaper solution to spray the vehicles with liquid pesticides.
The tenting method used by Brooks is commonly used to eliminate bed bugs in homes and vehicles. According to Terminex, a "hot box" extermination method involves heating an environment above the lethal threshold for the bugs – between 117 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a car left in direct sunlight on a sunny 77-degree day will reach these temperatures within about 60 minutes, but that might not always be successful.
Still, in an industry where any person can order up a car, there are risks to be had. Some law offices even offer their services for people who transfer bed bugs to their home from an infested rideshare. It's a disheartening idea, but Brooks says not to overthink it. He offers some friendly advice to anybody who thinks that they may have been exposed in a rideshare car:
"If you feel suspicious, just throw your clothes in the dryer for 50 minutes on high heat. Then it's best to hop in the shower."
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