The photo is a bit blurry, but clear enough to alarm bus riders: insects that look suspiciously like beg bugs, snuggled into the blue fabric of a SEPTA bus seat.
The image, which was taken last Friday, was shared on social media where it quickly went viral and came to the attention of SEPTA officials.
“When we were able to pinpoint when this picture might have been taken,” said SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams, “we pulled all buses that would have been in the area at that time off the street.”
That ultimately included three buses from Route 6, she said. Each received a special cleaning that including vacuuming and a freezing treatment to eliminate any pests.
Williams said there is no indication of a widespread infestation, and was not aware of previous reports of bed bugs on buses.
“We are not able to confirm that this particular bug shown in this image is a bed bug, but just to be extra cautious,” she said, “we are taking the steps to treat it as such.”
Michelle Niedermeier of the Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management program at Penn State confirmed the photo was too grainy for a definitive answer.
“It could quite possibly be a bed bug,” she said, noting that the insects are expert hitchhikers. “But often times there are cases of mistaken identity. It could’ve also been a cockroach nymph, for example.”
City buses are cleaned daily and fumigated every month, Williams said, adding that SEPTA’s incoming order of 550 buses will all have molded plastic seats instead of fabric.
Niedermeier, who also chairs the Philadelphia Bed Bug Task Force, said the switch is a good idea, but not foolproof. Beg bugs are very small and can stow away in seemingly inhospitable spaces.
“For them to find even a hiding place in the head of a screw is something that we have seen,” she said.
Bed bugs of SEPTA. Three reports of this in the last week. Ugh.People of SEPTA shared Toya Andrews’ and Russell…