Bedbugs battle bookworms

14 Essex County libraries shut down temporarily to check on a reported bedbug infestation
Bedbug on bed sheet A common bedbug. Though hopefully not that common around your home, if you know what I mean. (Deming 9120 | Dreamstime.com)


We've all heard of bookworms hanging out in a library. No worries there. They love to read, are quiet, and, you know, aren't actually worms. They're just people who dig a good read. Bedbugs, on the other hand, are a bit of an issue. So much so that 14 libraries had to close down recently in Essex County near Windsor, Ontario. The cause? Rumours of a big-time bedbug infestation.

Mind if I crash at your place?

A bedbug is one of those insects that is best placed under the category of "pretty harmless, but very annoying". Cimex lectularius is a tiny insect that feeds exclusively on blood, and in particular, human blood. They get their common name, bedbug, from the fact that they prefer to live in our beds. And why not? It's warm and cozy, and their favourite dish is laying right there. (Yes, that "favourite dish" is you.)

Now to be clear, bedbugs are super small and only drink a little blood. As in very, very little. And unlike mosquitoes, they do not transmit any diseases through their bites. Public health officials do not consider them a health threat. So why do we need to be so concerned about them? For one, like a mosquito bite, bedbug bites can cause itchy red bumps to appear on our skin. And because they feed while we're asleep, even a small group can inflict dozens of nasty bites on your snoozing self.

I mean, you'll live. But gross.

They say that they're studying but we know better

Bedbugs are occasionally found in libraries. They were discovered in the Beaches Public Library in Toronto this past December. (Getty Images embed)

All that said, libraries might seem like a strange place for bedbugs to hang out. After all, there aren't any beds. But libraries do have a lot of people, and that's really all bedbugs are after. The insects will hide inside books, laying their eggs within the pages. Then when a bugged book is checked out and taken home, the real sleepover party can begin.

This is the big reason why the folks in Essex County are taking this seriously. They've even hired a professional bedbug sniffer dog, just like this guy below, to check that every branch is safe. What a cutie.

"They're in here, boss!" A bedbug sniffing dog uses its powerful sense of smell to locate these tiny, hidden pests. (Getty Images embed)

So far, the inspection has gone well. Half of the 14 libraries reopened Wednesday. But until the search is complete, librarians are asking that people not return their books to closed branches and that any suspicious books should be brought back in a sealed freezer bag. And above all, keep this in mind: bedbug infestations in libraries are very rare. So sorry, buddy. You still need to finish that project.

See you at the library!


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