Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's is Canada's 5th most bedbug infested city, says extermination company

Orkin Canada has ranked the most bedbug infested cities in Canada, and St. John's rounds out the top five.

Orkin Canada ranks most bedbug infested cities in Canada

Ken Penney with Orkin St. John's says a resurgence of bed bugs in recent years can be attributed to many factors, including increased international travel, global importing and exporting and restrictions and bans on pesticide use. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

St. John's has made it to the top of another list, but this time it's not for the colourful houses or oceanfront location.

The most easterly city in Canada is also housing a host of unwanted guests — bedbugs.

They're great little hitchhikers, and unfortunately we're a great mode of transport.- Ken Penney

Pest control company Orkin Canada released data gathered from the number of treatments it performed at both residential and commercial properties throughout the country from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017.

Toronto topped its list of bedbug ridden cities, followed by Winnipeg, Vancouver, Ottawa, St. John's, Edmonton, Halifax, Sudbury, Scarborough and Calgary.

Bedbugs rely on humans for more than just lunch.

Orkin released its list of the 25 most bed bug-ridden cities in Canada. (Orkin Canada)

"They're great little hitchhikers, and unfortunately we're a great mode of transport," said Ken Penney, service manager for Orkin in St. John's.

"From our luggage, purses, bags, wallets, cell phone cases — these are all the ways we have confirmed bed bugs navigating from one place to the other."

Bedbug equation 

Penney points to the oil boom and a reliance on the tourism industry for St. John's high ranking among much bigger cities on the list.

It has increased, but that's the cost of our lifestyle.- Ken Penney

"In recent years we've become an oil-based society and we rely heavily on tourism, hence we inherit the trends that come with those industries," Penney told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"Increased tourists means increased hotel capacities, [workers] travelling between job sites, shared quarters, carpooling and disposable income, which also means vacationing, so all of these things are part of the bed bug equation.

"So it has increased, but that's the cost of our lifestyle."

The parasitic insects tend to live and hide in the areas where we sleep, but they aren't limited to hotels and apartment buildings, Penney said. They've been found in buses, taxis, theatres, food courts and offices.

Range of reactions 

Some people get red, itchy spots when bitten by bedbugs, some show no signs at all, Penney said, so it isn't always obvious there is a problem.

Penney has seen infestations so severe they had to tear out the walls and flooring in a home and throw out all the furniture. 

"And the occupants are just there stood up saying, 'I had no signs, I didn't know that this happened,' and we're finding hundreds of bugs in behind almost every obstacle."

This fed, adult bed bug is no bigger than an apple seed. (Sudbury & District Health Unit/

Bedbugs can thrive in a spotlessly clean room, and one female bedbug can lay one to five eggs per day, so vigilance is key.

Penney's best advice is to thoroughly inspect the area around your bed, including linens, creases in mattresses and furniture, the box spring, headboard and framed pictures.

Look for insects — adults are reddish-brown and about the size of an apple seed — eggs, blood stains and fecal matter.

"St. John's is a small city, but it's also one of North America's oldest cities, hence we shouldn't believe we should be impervious to one of North America's oldest pests."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show