Bed bugs are often a threat to city life. New York City has seen massive animal infestations on occasion, including in 2010 and again a decade later, although the coronavirus has reportedly made bed bugs less of a problem lately.
Now there are reports of a bug problem in a very non-urban setting – on a submarine.
According to the Navy Times, there has been a recent bug infestation on the fast-attacking Connecticut submarine, and some sailors told the publication that “command of the boat has been slow to fix the problem.”
Connecticut is a Seawolf-class submarine, one of only three elite submarines that the U.S. Navy relies on.
The problem was attributed to the ship’s participation in Exercise Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020 in the Arctic Ocean almost a year ago. It’s still a problem after the boat returned to its home port in Washington state in December.
“We’ve had bed bugs for a year now,” an anonymous sergeant told the Navy Times. “Seafarers complained about being bitten in the racks.”
“People were being eaten alive on their shelves,” said the sergeant.
“The best way to put it would probably be ’employee abuse’, but that’s not really a thing in the Navy I think,” said another officer.
“They’re using us as live bait … to see if (the bed bugs) are still there,” another junior officer told the Navy Times. “The upper chain of command will not sleep in these racks. You will get the lower ones to do it. “
A spokesman for the Navy said, however, that the ship’s command did not report this until December, despite the schedule for March, and that the “physical presence” of the bugs only reported in February.
“The Navy takes the safety and health of its seafarers very seriously,” added the Navy Times spokesman.
“After two uses of marine-approved pesticide sprays and the application of a long-acting diatomaceous earth, entomologists recommended repopulating berths,” she said. “All appropriate countermeasures have been put in place with firm plans to address further outbreaks if they occur.”
According to WebMD, bugs are “small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies the size of an apple seed. However, after feeding, their bodies swell and are reddish in color … bed bugs are mostly active at night and usually bite people while they sleep. They feed by piercing the skin and drawing blood through an elongated beak. The beetles eat for three to ten minutes to clog and then crawl away unnoticed. “
Symptoms of bed bugs include blood stains on sheets or pillowcases, “dark or rusty stains from bed bug droppings on sheets and mattresses”, and “an offensive, musty smell from the beetle’s scent glands”.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, and Broad Street backstage magazine Check out and splice today. Stephen is a co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.