It's an epidemic in hotels and homes across the nation: Bedbugs are making life miserable for millions of Americans. Now the pesky little creatures have found a new home in San Diego ... at the airport.
Bedbugs love carpets, seat cushions and dark places to hide, so it's no surprise they're turning up at Lindbergh Field. The airport is doing what it can to eliminate the tiny troublemakers.
Suitcases can carry the bedbugs from one city to another, on the same airplane you travel. Passengers can also carry bedbugs on their clothing.
"While they're sitting in those chairs, bedbugs could actually be on the actual person, falling into the seats, the carpets, the areas in the airport," said Rob Cartright II of Cartwright Termite and Pest Control.
A source who works at the airport -- and saw exterminators at work there -- says there is a bedbug problem at Lindbergh Field. The source said bedbugs have been found -- and exterminated -- in the luggage and passenger areas of both terminals.
Cartwright said the bugs hide in baseboards and electrical outlets. Passengers napping while they wait for a flight could be good targets for the pests.
"Well, when you're sleeping, you're there for a long period of time," Cartwright said. "The bedbugs can possibly pick up on that, get on the person -- either bite or hitch a ride to the next place they want to go, which would be on the actual airliner."
Bedbugs also hide in carpets, and there is plenty of that at Lindbergh Field.
While exterminators can kill the bugs, that won't solve the problem.
"If the insect comes in contact with the actual pesticide, it's going to die, but you're never going to prevent people from bringing the bedbugs in," Cartwright said.
Airports and airlines are doing their best to control the problem and limit the damage.
"Unfortunately, bedbugs are out there, and they're here to stay," Cartwright said.
Cartwright said the best way to avoid bedbugs when you travel is to not put your clothing directly in your suitcase or carry-on. Instead, pack it in plastic bags, and when you get home, put all that clothing in the wash, whether you've worn it or not. Then, throw away the plastic bags and vacuum your luggage, especially around the seams, where bedbugs can hide.
Management at Lindbergh Field would not give any details about their effort to control the bedbugs.