those “wee flat bronze coloured things with a black spot” that come out at night

by nobugsonme on October 26, 2006 · 5 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs and travel, bed bugs on public transportation, new york, northern ireland, united kingdom, usa

It’s funny. I was aware that long-haul truckers refer to themselves as bedbuggers, presumably because they have beds in their rigs.

Now, ironically, lorry (truck) drivers in Northern Ireland are suffering from a bedbug problem, according to this article in the Belfast Telegraph Wednesday. They believe the bedbugs infested their trucks while they were on P&O line ferries crossing the Irish Sea:

The news first came to light after a Portadown haulier contacted the Stephen Nolan Show to complain about a problem he claimed originated on a P&O [ferry] crossing.

The ferry company, however, yesterday defended its actions, saying the problem was nipped in the bud.

“I started to scratch and I couldn’t stop. My God, the bites were itchy,” the lorry driver said.

“Then some of the boys started to find insects in their lorries – they’re wee flat bronze coloured things with a black spot and they only come out when it’s dark.

“Everyone has been talking about it for some time now. A friend of mine was eaten alive after his lorry was swarmed with them.”

The 29-year-old, who asked not to be named, said he believed he caught the bugs on a P&O crossing between Larne and Cairnryan.

“I make that journey up to six times each week. In July, P&O said there was a ‘small problem’, so the commercial drivers lounge was closed – and completely refurbished,” he said.

So P&O treated some kind of bug problem and claimed it was “nipped in the bud.” Meanwhile, one driver claimed he had had to have his lorry fumigated three times, at 500 pounds a pop (about $900 US). Since he pays this expense, it is taking a huge cut of his wages.

A spokesperson for P&O Ferries yesterday said there was a “possible pest control issue” on the Larne-Cairnyran route at the end of July.

“This area was immediately closed and treated and we then took the added precaution of completely refitting all fittings and furnishings in the Commercial Drivers Lounge. This area was subsequently reopened to commercial drivers in late August.”

He added that there had been an inspection on Monday.

“Once again both external experts, Rentokill Initial and Environmental Health Officials from Larne Borough Council, gave the European Highlander and the European Causeway vessels a complete clean bill of health,” he said.

Two things are interesting here: one, this illustrates the wide-ranging effect of an infestation. If bugs on the P&O ferries are indeed getting into lorries (or possibly into lorry driver’s coats and bags?) then they are going wherever those drivers go, including pubs, restaurants, and homes. Maybe even shops their freight is destined for.

Another point is that P&O carries travelers on foot and with cars, as well as frieght and drivers. They connect rail and bus lines in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So people who’ve been in trains or cars can presumably carry the bugs too.

What many readers might find to be an innocuous story about people in one line of work getting a raw deal is actually a story about how bedbugs travel. This story is about P&O’s Scotland to Northern Ireland line, but the trains connect with trains and buses all over those countries; P&O also runs ferries to the Continent. Travelers visit hotels, hostels and homes.

Th public health authorities in Larne, and the Rentokill Pest Control may as yet not have extensive experience with bedbugs, but we here at Bedbugger can tell them it is not always easy to spot bedbugs in their earlier stages of development. And even if you eradicate them, they can come back, swiftly.

What do Northern Irish lorry drivers and Ralph Lauren’s New York design office employees have in common? Bed bugs at work. And you know that long after the office / trucks are clean, those monsters are spreading around the homes of the employees. And, if they’re not super careful, the homes of everyone they know. And their neighbors.
Are you starting to get worried about these lorry drivers and their problem now? I sure am.

1 Peter Minter October 26, 2006 at 10:46 am

Am I surprised ??? No not really.
This does not mean all truck drivers bot a whole lot of them that I have seen and worked with & that is UK drivers as well.
They are away from home for days on end nowadays and some stay in the same clothes all week, even sleeping in them because they are either too tired or too drunk to bother.
They feed themselves out of a grotty little “cold box” because they cannot afford to eat properly in truck stops or cafes. The only commercial outlets they use for food is a “burger van” and that is taken into the cab with all the mess that goes with it. They cook food on a little camping gas stove in dirty pans the resulting mess in some cabs is a health hazard. I have stood next to drivers and the smell from their bodies nearly makes you sick. The same ones Pee in pop bottles and throw them out of their windows. Poo in plastick bags and deposit them anywhere along the road. They come out of the toilts at service areas after doing a deposit and dont wash their hands. I have even seen food being taken into the bog to bee eaten while they are emptying the other end. Am I surprised??? Police etc talk about a drug problem. really??? I did this myself so I know its true. If a truck driver wakes up with any sort of ailment, he cant just “not go in and throw a sicky” like other workers so, He takes paracetamol & other drugs them swigs lem sips etc, cough mixture. In fact they dose their selves up so that they can continue up the road. That is bad enough if they are going home but if he is on the way out he is an accident waiting to happen. This happens all the time as only a very few drivers have a propper sick pay where they are paid when off sick. As for sleeping in their cabs. How many take their sleeping bags home each week for a wash, pillows as well. STINK of sweaty dirty men. AM I SURPRISED???? How can they avoid contamination etc when they wash in a bowl with luke warm water on top of their diesel tank or wash the bits that are seen outside their clothes in their passenger seats. TRY IT!!!
As I said to start with, this is not all lorry drivers but the clean ones know who I am talking about. A clean truck does not mean a clean driver. Some of the are obsessed with keeping a nice shiney vehicle and spend pounds on junk to stick on it – in it etc and cleaning polishes. Fresh air products etc.
You dont have to take my word for it. Go to any dock and stand in the booking in que with the drivers Monday morning can be bad enough but try it on Friday Night or Saturday Morning. If You Dare

2 nobugsonme October 27, 2006 at 2:10 am

Hi Peter,
I have to say, I don’t think you’ve had the joy of encountering our friend the bed bug yet. Because if you had met him, or read much about him, you’d know that bedbugs are an extremely contagious parasite. They don’t infest just those people who are dirty or don’t look after themselves. They infest anyone they come in contact with. These lorry drivers apparently were infested by bedbugs from the P&O ferries– it would not matter if they were clean or dirty, it is nearly impossible to stop a bedbug infestation if you come in contact with bed bugs.  And if the bugs were inside the ferry (not just in the freight area) then ANYONE on the ferry was exposed to them.

I am not sure your comments are entirely unbiased (as I am sure there are many lorry drivers who take care of their health and keep a clean truck, as well as keeping themselves clean, albeit at great trouble on the road.

However, since your comments gave me a chance to point out that bedbugs like clean people as well as dirty or messy ones, rich as well as poor, those in mansions and houses as well as those in apartments, hostels, or flop-houses.  Until a few more rich, powerful people are infested, this message may not fully sink in for the general public.

3 Andy December 16, 2008 at 12:24 am

[Editor’s note: Duplicate post deleted. See duplicate post and response here.]

Andy, please do not post identical comments on multiple threads. Thanks!

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