On the heels of the New York Post's report this weekend that the Upper West Side's upscale Reebok Sports Club is battling bed bugs, and that some members are afraid to leave their clothes in the locker room, we asked bed bug expert Gil Bloom how worried other city dwellers should be about picking up more than a six-pack at the gym.
His response was somewhat reassuring.
"Lockers can serve as transfer points for bed bugs," he says, but as in school and retail settings, heavy infestations are "unlikely due to the lack of consistent food sources and nocturnal companionship, both of which are needed to thrive."
Even if you did manage to pick up a lone bed bug from a locker or someplace else, he notes, you don't have to worry about anything but a few bites unless the hitchhiker happens to be a pregnant female.
"Pick up a few adults and you probably will have a problem," acknowledges Bloom, an entomologist who runs Standard Pest Management in Queens and was recently recently named #1 bed bug warrior by NY Magazine.
Overall, "gyms that allow overnight or longterm locker use are more risky," so if you're going to use a locker, Bloom suggests packing your stuff in pouches.
As for both preventative and active treatment of infested locker rooms, it's not that hard to do--as long as it's done: "Lockers themselves can be inspected by certified bed bug canines and treated by dry steam vapor after hours if an issue is found," says Bloom.