A university in downtown Toronto is investigating a possible bedbug infestation in one of its classrooms.
A spokesperson for Ryerson University said officials are assessing the room and noted that students have been helpful in bringing their concerns forward.
The university’s assessment comes after a student newspaper published a report of insects found inside tables in one classroom.
Jacob Dube, a student who worked on the piece published in The Eyeopener, said Ryerson students have reported seeing insects they believed to be bedbugs in a classroom in the school’s Victoria Building since December.
Several students who spotted the insects, including Eyeopener reporter Stefanie Phillips, later found what appeared to be bug bites on their skin.
Ryerson officials told the student newspaper that pest control inspected the classroom in question, a lecture hall that Dube said can fit about 200 students. They said they found “no evidence” of insects after several inspections.
On Monday evening, Dube said he and several other student reporters decided to investigate for themselves. They knew where to look, he said, because many students had reported seeing bugs in the same place: inside the deep holes in the classroom’s large tables.
The insects weren’t initially obvious to the naked eye, but Dube said they found several bugs after shining flashlights into the holes and using paper clips to dig them out.
Dube said he sent photographs of the insects to five exterminators, who all confirmed that the insects were bedbugs.
He was startled that he and his friends found what pest control could not, he said.
“I was very surprised when they said teams that were trained to do this didn’t end up finding anything, but a bunch of journalists just came in and managed to do it pretty easily.”
But Dube said the university has been receptive to their reporting, with officials asking the students to show them exactly where the bugs were spotted in order to independently verify their information.
“There’s been so much documentation from students about this happening, and not much follow through,” he said. “Hopefully that will change this time.”
Bedbugs are difficult to deal with because of how hard they can be to spot and how quickly they can spread, said Neetu Gogna, office manager at Pestend Pest Control, one of the companies that identified the insects to Dube as bedbugs.
“They can easily migrate from one place to another place on the human body, clothes, shoes, purses,” she said. “Even one or two bedbugs … can spread very easily.”
Bedbugs can be hard to find because they can easily hide in very small cracks, Gogna said. Adults are usually dark brown or red, while newborns who haven’t fed yet are almost transparent.
Heat can kill bedbugs, which is why Gogna said anyone who fears they may have come into contact with the insects should wash and dry their clothes or other belongings in high heat.
Whether or not the insects at Ryerson turn out to be bedbugs, Gogna said everyone should be careful, and regularly do visual checks on their beds and clothing.
“They are very common, especially in downtown Toronto.”