Maricopa County health inspectors have been looking into bed bug complaints coming from a Valley movie theater.
Tom Dominick, the Environmental Specialist Supervisor said as soon as they got the complaint, they sent two inspectors to the AMC movie theater at the Westgate Mall in Glendale to inspect the affected auditoriums.
The inspectors said pest control was already working in the affected area of the theater.
Dominick said his department deals with bed bug calls from many public places. As long as the businesses act to correct the problem, no action on their part is required, and most businesses seem eager to comply.
Earlier this week, a Goodyear woman posted pictures of bed bugs crawling all over the theater seats. Crystal Mitchell told ABC15 she felt her arm itching while watching a movie, and saw the creatures on her arm and on the seat when she turned her cellphone flashlight towards them.
After she posted the pictures on social media, several other people have come forward saying they too suffered bed bug bites at the same theater.
Collette Romero said it happened to her too. She felt her arms itching while watching a movie and came home to see big welt marks and a rash on her skin.
ABC15 showed the pictures taken by Mitchell to two Valley exterminators and an Entomologist. All three of them confirmed the bugs in the photos were bed bugs.
AMC officials have released a statement saying they inspect all seats monthly and have pest control come in regularly, but a former supervisor who worked at the Westgate mall AMC theater said the place has been dealing with bed bug problems for years.
Jake Laurent said he was not surprised to see Mitchell's pictures.
"As far as bug bite stuff, we'd get maybe one complaint a week of someone saying, 'hey I got bit in the theater, what's going on?' We would just give them free movie passes," said Laurent.
Bed bug experts say any public place that sees a lot of human traffic is likely to see a bed bug problem.
Anthony Deslo, the owner of Phoenix Bed Bug Expert said movie theaters make for an ideal environment for the creepy crawly creatures.
"Everyone wants to go see the latest, greatest movie out. You get comfortable in the chair for two hours. It's dark. People are sitting in those chairs constantly. There's a constant source of food so the bed bugs will regenerate very fast and reproduce."
Bed bug experts said the infestation on the theater chair looked at least two weeks old, as the bugs appeared to be of several different sizes.
Deslo said some of the most common public places where he has treated for bed bugs are: doctors’ offices and churches. He declined to tell us the names of the businesses. Other hot spots on the list are public libraries, retail outlets, movie theaters, public transportation, and hotels.