By Stefanie Phillips and Jacob Dubé
Ryerson couldn’t find any insects in the Victoria building. But The Eye did. A bunch of them.
On Monday night, reporters from The Eyeopener went into VIC 205, a classroom in which students reported seeing bugs in the tables, and found insects that were later confirmed by five exterminators to be bedbugs. The insects were hidden inside the cracks of the tables in the classroom. By Tuesday afternoon, Ryerson posted a notice saying classes were cancelled in the room.
The Eye confirmed the insects were bed bugs after sending images of them to Abell Pest Control, 24/7 Pest Control, Merkem Pest Solutions, Pestend Pest Control Toronto and Just Bed Bugs. All five companies said they were bed bugs.
On Tuesday afternoon, The Eye met with representatives from Ryerson to show them where the bed bugs were found. Ryerson then said a K-9 unit trained to sniff out bed bugs will examine the room. After that, VIC 205 will be sprayed to kill any bugs and the K-9 unit will come back to look for more.
Prior to The Eye‘s discoveries, Ryerson’s department of facilities, management and development said pest control has been commissioned “to look for and eliminate any activity in this room” on March 9. Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi said pest control found “no evidence of termites, bugs or any other insects when the building was inspected.”
Media relations gave a similar statement that a “visual inspection” was conducted on March 9 of the Victoria building’s adjacent rooms, corridors, and the basement, but “there was no evidence of any bedbugs or other insects.”
Dasha Pasiy, media relations officer at the university, said the room has been “investigated multiple times,” including with a K-9 unit, but all results came back negative.
Pasiy said investigations are conducted all over the university and usually consist of “visual inspections” done by trained technicians in predetermined areas of the university like, kitchens, boiler rooms, loading docks and any areas where pest sightings have been reported.
On Tuesday a class in VIC 205 was cancelled and another class was moved to different room.
— The Eyeopener (@theeyeopener) March 13, 2018
Second-year graphic communications management student, Lea AlHuneidi said she spotted the bugs on the first day of her Astronomy class this semester in room 205 when one crawled across her paper. She looked around to find three more on the table and two crawling on the jeans of student sitting next to her.
“After that I stopped going to class,” she said. “I’m not going to risk getting bit by them or having them transferred to my house.”
AlHuneidi said she tried going back to class but couldn’t focus because she was too distracted by the thought of bugs crawling around her and said she failed one of her tests.
Ksenia Chpak was in the same classroom last semester, when she found brown bugs on her sweater. Chpak went home with several bites on her hands, arms, stomach and back.
This semester Eye reporter Stefanie Phillips was also sitting in VIC 205 and noticed the bugs on her right hand. She brushed it off only to find more of them on her desk.
A few hours later, in the same place the bugs had crawled, several itchy, red bumps appeared on her hand. After a day, the bumps swelled. Several days later, the swelling subsided and the bumps reduced to tiny scabs.
Mike Cardaci, the owner and operator of Just Bed Bugs, a bed bug exterminating company in Toronto, said it can take anywhere from one day to two weeks to get rid of bed bugs, depending on which method of removal the client decides to use.
Judging by the size of the bugs in photos taken by The Eye, Cardaci said the bed bugs are in their adult stage, meaning that they are able to reproduce. He said on average one bed bug will lay between 300 and 500 eggs in their four-to-six month lifespan.
If the bed bugs go untreated, Cardaci said the possibility of them spreading to other areas of the university, or the homes of students, is “very likely.”
“Whoever is in the room can pick them up on their clothing,” he said. “If people are not present the bed bugs can physically walk from room to room, they’re physically very flat bugs so they can get in very small cracks and crevices.”
A study conducted by Orkin Canada, one of Canada’s largest pest control companies, and the company Ryerson contracts for pest control, listed Toronto as the top city in Canada for a number of treatments conducted on bed bugs.
With files from Justin Chandler