Washington DC may be the capital of the United States, but it’s New York City that’s gained the title of the nation’s bed bug capital. The large coastal city is home to thousands of infested buildings, and until recently has been considered the most dangerous spot in the nation for anti-outbreak travelers, creepy crawly haters, and renters dedicated to keeping their apartments free of the parasites.
But bed bugs are slowly moving out of New York City, resulting in outbreaks in nearby cities and a cocktail of problems for those living in the city’s extensive suburban area. New Jersey is one of the nearby problem sites – a small state that acts as home to many of the Eastern Seaboard’s most rich and prestigious names. From nearby Newark to Atlantic City, the bugs appear to be taking over.
Outbreaks have become more common in New Jersey over the past five years – an exponential rise that pest control experts believe is due to higher rates of travel in the state. The lack of chemicals to fight the bugs with is also an issue, as the most effective anti-pest sprays have either been banned or weakened to the point of ineffectiveness over the past decade.
That’s left many residents with no option other than to fork out thousands of dollars for expensive heat treatments and multi-stage spraying routines. As much of New Jersey’s population resides in rental accommodation, particularly small apartments and shared co-op housing units, the cost of a single infestation can often become a point of contention between building owners and their tenants.
New Jersey’s state government appears to be siding with the renters. A recent bill – dubbed the ‘bed bug bill’ by its supporters, gives tenants the right to pass bed bug issues on to their landlords, giving a $300 non-compliance fine to building owners and up to $1,000 for persistent infestations that are not met with chemical treatment. The bill isn’t popular amongst apartment owners, but it’s working.
Or at least, it appears to be. The number of reported cases in the state continues to rise, although at a slower rate than it has over the past twelve months. Like area in nearby New York City and cities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey’s bed bug population has increased at an exponential level during the last five years. Growth is still cause for concern, although it is getting relatively slower this year.
Authorities hope that the bugs can be wiped out from the state’s private residences, hotel rooms, and office complexes within the next two years. However, with the scale of many outbreaks and the risk associated with effective chemical treatments, New Jersey’s pest problem could persist. Residents in the state are hopeful that it will at least escape without the PR problem that NYC has inherited.
How are bed bugs spreading through New Jersey?
New Jersey’s position – dubbed the ‘double-corked barrel’ by early settlers – makes it a frequently visited location for travelers and residents of both New York City and Philadelphia. While the two cities offer a great deal of income for New Jersey’s businesses and public recreational spaces, they also bring one unwanted guest in abundance – creepy, crawly, and utterly uncomfortable bed bugs.
In fact, the two connecting cities form the United States’ bed bug core, housing more infestations than any other major population centers. As New Jersey forms the hub of rail and bus travel on the country’s East Coast, it’s inevitable that bed bugs end up jumping from suitcases and other bags on to public rail furniture, bus seats and storage areas, and even clothes stored in overhead lockers.
The state’s position as a frequent overnight stop also puts it at risk of bed bug infestations. Most of the reported bed bug infestations occur in short-stay hotels, particularly those popular with drivers and traveling businesspeople. Due to the high turnover and limited amount of time to prepare rooms for new guests, bed bugs and other pests can often go unnoticed for weeks at a time.
That’s more than enough time for the pests to spread, even to other floors of a hotel complex. While the hotel owners are forced to battle the bugs on their own turf, the infested luggage can transfer the pests to hundreds of other hotel rooms in just days. While hotel owners are becoming more vigilant in their checking of guests’ luggage, many remain unaware of potential bed bug carriers.
Which cities are most at risk of bed bug infestation?
All major population centers are at risk of seeing large-scale bed bug outbreaks, although few are likely to experience infestations on a similar scale to those seen in New York City. Due to the high density of New Jersey housing, the risk of bugs spreading from one room or apartment to another is fairly high. Owners should remain vigilant and aware, particularly if they live in inner city areas.
High-density areas such as Jersey City, Newark, and Trenton are particularly at risk of infestations and repeated outbreaks. If you are planning on traveling to a major center in New Jersey, we advise you to check the Bed Bug Registry in order to ensure that any hotel rooms and public facilities used are free of the pests. Not only will you avoid the bugs, this could help stop them from spreading.
Is New Jersey’s proximity to New York City to blame?
New Jersey’s proximity to New York City, and in particular its position as part of the Greater New York Area, may have something to do with its propensity for gaining bed bug infestations. NYC is now the nation’s bed bug capital, housing thousands of bed bug infestations and even allocating a major government fund to fight the critters. It’s quite likely that the bed bugs originate in New York.
But it’s not completely likely, and claiming that the vast majority of infestations come from New York City is unlikely to help solve problems entirely. Both Philadelphia and New York City – two cities that are home to some of the largest bed bug populations in the USA – are in close proximity to New Jersey, lending credit to theories that the two cities are contributing to outbreaks in the state.
New Jersey residents traveling to New York, Philadelphia, or other bed bug centers including San Francisco should ensure that they do not come in contact with the pests. Once again, check hotels for reported bed bug outbreaks using the Bed Bug Registry to ensure that your sheets, and maybe even your own home, is free of bugs and unsuitable for an infestation or long-term outbreak.
What bed bug treatments are available in New Jersey?
A wide range of treatments are available in New Jersey, including traditional spray-based poisons and more advanced heat treatment options. Due to the widespread outbreaks in New York City, an exodus of pest control firms has occurred, with numerous Jersey-based operators offering bed bug removal services to apartment dwellers, homeowners, and building operators across the Hudson.
However, all of these services are available to New Jersey residents too, often at a more competitive rate than across the river. As the bugs are so notoriously difficult to remove from bedding and other furniture, it’s recommended that those experiencing an infestation use multiple ‘cures’ in order to remove the bugs. Spraying combined with heat treatment is a popular, albeit expensive, option.
Bed bugs in Jersey City and the Greater NYC Area
While widespread outbreaks are rare, isolated infestations are a fairly frequent occurrence in Jersey City. Due to the city’s proximity to ultra-infested Manhattan Island and its travel-friendly roadway design, bugs are primarily spread throughout the city by commuters from the island and tourists in its many hotels. Despite the annoyance, the bugs are fairly easily dealt with by local pest control.
Jersey City is covered by the state’s ‘bed bug bill’, which re quires landlords to pay for pest control and related expenses. If your hotel room is affected by the bugs, you may be able to pursue action against the hotel company in question. Apartment tenants and those renting houses in the city are best off appealing to their landlords, and later to city officials should no action take place.
Bed bugs in Newark and its surrounding cities
There have been several media reports of bed bug outbreaks in Newark over the past year. Due to the city’s close proximity to bed bug hotspots and its cosmopolitan nature, a number of buildings within the city core have been affected by the parasites. A recent report hinted at entire apartment complexes being infested, including a five-story building in central Newark city.
Furthermore, several airport area hotels have been reported as housing the annoying insects. The city is one of the East Coast’s largest domestic travel hubs, leading to huge demand for overnight accommodation. Travelers are advised to avoid airport hotels, or simply check bedsheets, couches, and other furniture before committing to a hotel room in the city.
Bed bugs in Trenton and Central New Jersey
Trenton is one of several cities in New Jersey to have passed legislation making bed bug outbreaks the responsibility of landlords and apartment owners. The bill requires that landlords incur the cost of first and second-round cleaning, while tenants may be forced to incur further charges depending on the severity of an infestation and the amount of spraying required to eliminate the bugs.
Major outbreaks have been fairly rare in the city, although a few small apartment buildings have had minor issues with the bugs. As with many other New Jersey towns, the vast majority of cases have been relatively minor, with bed bugs being eliminated through repeated spraying and heated treatment services. Trenton is at a higher risk than West Coast cities, but it’s not a major hot spot.
Bed bugs in Atlantic City and other Southern New Jersey cities
If New Jersey has a bed bug activity center, it’s Atlantic City. The coastal resort city is home to hundreds of hotels and casinos, each designed to lure in tourists visiting the city for a weekend or two. Due to the city’s short-term accommodation quota and the large amount of business travelers opting to stay within its limits, bed bugs have become a major issue for hoteliers and businesses.
A bed bug registry reports two high-profile infestation cases in Atlantic City, advising visitors to avoid the affected hotels until pest control efforts are completed. As the city is a major tourism spot, visitors are advised to check recent reviews of hotels in the central city area – particularly those on the boardwalk – for bed bug alerts and other potential issues.
Recent outbreaks in New Jersey and related press coverage
New Jersey’s bed bug activity has mirrored that of neighboring New York City, albeit at a slightly slower pace. The state’s major centers have battled the bugs for the better part of a decade, with a significant growth in call volume every year. High-profile cases have been reported, including an unusually troubling bed bug outbreak in the Goldman Sachs office building in Jersey City.
As Jersey City accommodates more large businesses, the economic impact of bed bug infestations is likely to rise. A large portion of New York City’s infestation cases have been reported in offices and other commercial buildings, as opposed to the residential areas most associated with the pests. If bed bugs continue to appear in seats and furniture, the cost to businesses could be very large.
There’s also the obvious stigma of an outbreak – one that’s doubly as horrifying for a brand-driven business. Several businesses in the New York City area have already fought off the negative press brought by the bugs, and many fear that the PR disasters could spread into New Jersey. With news like this becoming increasingly common, those fears may be realized sooner than many imagine.