Home » Rivian’s Got A Bug Problem — And Not Just The Software Kind

Rivian’s Got A Bug Problem — And Not Just The Software Kind

Bedbugs Top

Some weird news about electric vehicle startup Rivian has permeated the blogosphere, and since I’m generally pro-weird-news, I figured I’d share it: Rivian’s allegedly got bugs, folks. Not just in its software, but also in its forklifts. What, you’ve never heard of forklift bugs? Neither have I. Like I said, it’s weird.

“Rivian details actions taken after reports of bugs found in manufacturing plant,” reads the hedline by Illinois-based news site 25 News. Illinois is home to the town of Normal, which houses the former Mitsubishi plant that Rivian is using to build its R1T pickup and R1S SUV. The article begins by stating that forklifts at the manufacturing plant have reportedly been found to have bedbugs. From the news story’s discussion with Rivian spokesperson Zach Dietmeier:

Rivian has engaged a professional pest control company.

Out of an abundance of caution, all the forklifts in the affected area have been quarantined and treated. As a preventative measure, we are also treating all others forklifts and tuggers this weekend.

As a preventative measure, we have treated the transportation shuttles. (There have been no signs of bugs in the shuttles.)

Although we have found no bugs in the warehouses, all warehouse spaces will be treated by the end of the week as a preventative measure.

The pesticide used to eradicate the bugs is 100% effective and safe for people. This use has gone through our formal chemical approval process.

Illinois-based news site The Pantagraph has a photo of a forklift with a plastic cover over its seat, and some quotes from employees:

Posts about the situation circulated on Reddit this week. The Pantagraph was contacted about the situation on Friday by multiple Rivian employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concern for their jobs.

One worker described seeing multiple forklifts parked on Tuesday with signs that said “Bedbugs, Do Not Use,” and plastic bags over the seats.

I will admit that I’m a bit confused on how the forklifts got involved in all this. I mean, aren’t most forklift seats typically foam covered in some kind of plastic/vinyl? Do bedbugs hide in that?

[Editor’s Note: This is the part that really got me: what, exactly are these bedbugs hiding in? I’ve been around forklifts plenty (I do have a social life, you know) and they may be the least plush vehicles I can think of this side of a rusty tractor with one of those metal seats that looks like a collander. Does Rivian have special forklift seat covers that look like this?:

Bedbug Fork2

..because that’s the only way I can imagine this happening. – JT]

The quarantined forklifts (again, it feels weird typing that) are apparently only limited to part of the facility, though it could be a big deal if the end up in production vehicles. And, it’s worth noting that Rivian has yet to admit to having found any bedbugs.

Bedbugs are no joke. Back when I lived on the east side of Detroit in West Village, I had to live with some fellow Chrysler engineers while my apartment was fumigated. After I moved back in, bedbugs would wait until I fell asleep, then crawl out of the baseboards, along the floor, up the bedframe, over my covers, and right down my shirt, biting me and leaving me with marks in the morning. By the time I woke up, the bastards were nowhere in sight (save for an occasional one I rolled over). That’s what makes bedbugs so horrible — their stealth. It’s like a ghost is sucking your blood while you sleep, and it can have deep psychological effects. I was forced to move away. I never did get my safety deposit back, but I didn’t care. I was desperate. I needed out.

Anyway, bugs are just a part of managing any big facility, especially one that is occupied by lots of people. Bedbugs tend to be a huge problem in inner-city homes; I really feel for the folks who live there, and as for whatever’s going on in Normal, Illinois — I just hope whatever the heck this is gets solved so people don’t have to deal with what I dealt with. It’s rough.


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36 Responses

  1. Wanted to say this yesterday but was having login bug problems; If DT feels this strongly traumatized by bedbugs, he’s SERIOUSLY BRAVE to do Project Cactus. Maybe some bug trauma is why updates have been on hold forever.

  2. Bedbugs can hide virtually anywhere. That they are being found on forklifts is an obvious sign that the bedbugs have also infested whatever items the forklifts are carrying around. As a college student, I moved into an apartment that had bedbugs. My life for a year involved constant cleaning, vacuuming, washing, spraying pesticide, etc. Nothing worked to kill them and I ended up having to throw out virtually all of my furniture and most of my clothes and relocate. It was absolutely awful, and actually somewhat traumatizing. As a result, staying in hotels and bnbs while traveling is sometimes stressful. First thing I do upon arrival is place my luggage in the bathtub and start inspecting mattresses and baseboards for signs of infestation. I don’t want to live through that ever again.

  3. Jason Torchinsky might never have had bedbugs, judging by his comment. If you research their life cycle, you will find that they can live for up to an entire year without a blood meal, that females are commonly traveling to avoid being raped by the males and will lay an egg a day, they can inbreed and produce viable offspring, that they can travel up to 50 feet in search of a blood meal, and they can hide in any crack or crevasses. Pesticides are not 100% effective against them, except for perhaps DDT. The most effective means of killing them IMO are mechanically with diatomaceous Earth and/or with extreme heat. The diatomaceous Earth won’t address hidden eggs, but heat will. But enough heat to heat the entire living space to the 130 degrees it takes to kill them will cost a lot of money, just for the energy. The heat has to be kept there for hours because you need to assure that any cracks and crevasses the bugs are hiding in heat to that same temperature.

    To their credit, pest species of cockroaches eat bedbug eggs. So they’re not entirely useless. I’ve seen some really bad roach infestations at peoples’ homes, but those who had roach infestations NEVER had a bedbug problem.

    I’ve seen bedbugs at an office I used to work at. I’ve also seen them at hotels. They get around.

    You know, genetic engineering has gotten rather cheap to perform as a hobby. I’d LOVE to try to make these bastards able to fly. You’d NEVER get rid of them if you gave them wings so they could fly. A new plague to infest civilization! Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaaa.

    1. Just put the forklifts in one of the paint drying booths and turn the temp to 140 degrees. Leave them in there long enough to kill the bugs. Sorted. It’s not really that hard. We have a portable machine that can do that in our exam rooms, It really helps when we get a homeless person who’s been infested. Seems to work pretty well.

    2. The cockroach thing is really interesting. They’re not the easiest to kill either, but I wonder if deliberately infesting a house with roaches, waiting a week, then killing them off might be the easiest and cheapest way to clear out the bedbugs.

  4. They will hide in anything. Like, in that Detroit apartment they were hiding in the imperceptible crack between your baseboard and the drywall. They will hide behind your electric outlet covers. They will hide anywhere. They’re not picky, and they’re extremely flat. Any crevice, no matter how ridiculously small, can be a cozy home for bedbugs.

    I hope Rivian is willing to also treat the affected workers’ homes, should that be necessary. Those little fuckers are an absolute bitch to eradicate.

    1. “I hope Rivian is willing to also treat the affected workers’ homes, should that be necessary.”

      Where do you think they came from in the first place? Probably not from the forklift factory.

      1. Ever get with a gal who was staying at the local homeless shelter where an infestation occurred and is still ongoing, only to find one crawling out of her, plump and juicy after a feeding? It be like ‘dat bruh.

    1. I have an aversion to killing bugs and will usually try to trap and relocate them. I live in the countryside in Japan where, compared to my native UK, the bugs are big and plentiful, and if you leave a door or window unscreened the place turns into a zoo in a few hours.
      I extend my amnesty even to giant hornets, and the huge house spiders that are our regular visitors, and reluctantly kill the whopping cockroaches just to prevent infestation (I read somewhere that cockroaches mate for life, and can’t help thinking of the cockroach family waiting for mum or dad to come home).
      Giant centipedes get the chop because (a) they are foul creations and (b) a bite is very painful and can make you quite ill.

      I have never come across bedbugs but they would get the same treatment as mosquitoes: no mercy whatsoever. They suck blood = vampires = undead. Terminating them is not killing, they are previously deceased.
      Judging by the comments about how hard/verging on the impossible to kill they are only proves my point.

  5. “The pesticide used to eradicate the bugs is 100% effective and safe for people.”

    I’m curious to know what they used, because AFAIK the only treatment that’s 100% effective and safe for people is heat. DDT works, or at least it used to before bedbugs evolved resistance, but no pesticide available today will kill bedbug eggs even if it gets the bugs themselves.

    And they don’t care about plush, they just live on your mattress because that’s where YOU are. They will happily live on a steel tractor seat if that’s their chance to bite your ass. I really hate bedbugs, and I hate that my life has led me to know so much about them.

    1. I also very much enjoy the “chemical approval process” sentence. It feels like something they made up on the spot once Rivian knew there was an issue.

      That or I’m too much of a desk warrior to know about what sort of official safety review procedures factories have :).

    2. Yeah, I’ve never heard of a 100% effective (and legal) pesticide for bedbugs, heat is really the only remedy I’m familiar with as being at all close to foolproof

    3. The other remedy is very cold temperatures. My wife was accidentally exposed once and we fortunately had a -20 F low forecast that night. Left the clothes outside and never had an issue. Not exactly something anyone can duplicate, but some very cold freezers can probably do the job.

  6. I used to work in one of the oldest (maybe the oldest?) continuously operating assembly plants in the US (FCA Warren Truck Assembly) where we built the Ram 1500 and now build the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer. In my 2 years there I witnessed mice problems (candy was left overnight and in the morning the candy dish was ransacked), bird problems (there were always pigeons in random parts of the plant and they would scare the shit out of me if I was there on an off-day with no one else there), and never saw, but heard about tarantulas that would hide in the frames being shipped from Mexico and crawl out after their international travel. Not knocking on them, 1930s building and infrastructure makes it difficult to keep pests out. Pests likely exist in most plants that are occasionally open to the outside.

  7. The heat solution led to many a house fire when the bugs seemed to be a new plague in our city. Every week it seemed there was another story about a family that was now homeless because the heat treatment was waaaayyyy too effective. And it was often someone who couldn’t afford to move on a moment’s notice and had just lost in the fire what little they owned.

  8. Still trying to get my head around “I’ve been around forklifts plenty (I do have a social life, you know)”. I’m beginning to question my own limited social exposure to forklifts.

    1. The only thing I can think of is his wife’s workplace has one or more. But I can’t see him making that a cornerstone of his social life without getting banned from the premises.

  9. No mention of examining the employees? Those buggers can only travel 50′ sooooo…..someone may have “cooties” the scourge of childhood, this is just the grown up version.

  10. I finally saw an R1T in the wild the other day. Did a literal cartoon style double-take at a stoplight.

    My wife was not nearly as excited as I was. Also, explaining what the hell a Rivian is was not easy.

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