City Council to Bed Bugs: Drop Dead!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There was hawkish rhetoric on the steps of City Hall this afternoon directed at an unlikely foe: bed bugs.

The quarter-inch-long insects may be small, but they’re also crafty. Human beings tend not to like them, perhaps because they can lie dormant in pillows, couches, picture frames and even electrical sockets for four to six months without a so-called “blood meal.”

These six-legged parasites have ruined the lives of many New Yorkers, but city lawmakers, perhaps itching for a fight, are now waging war.

“We want to say to bed bugs from the New York City Council: Drop dead. Your days are over,” said Council speaker Christine Quinn. “We’re sick and tired. And we’re bringing some money to the table to outspend you and drive you out of the five boroughs.”

The City Council has earmarked $500,000 for the bug offensive. The money will fund a Bed Bug Web Portal where city residents can learn how to identify, prevent and eradicate the enemy. There's been a recent surge in infestations around the city, with 54 percent more cases reported in 2009 than in 2008.

City officials hope the new resources will curb the number of reported cases, but entomologists say the insidious nature of bed bugs will make them difficult to annihilate. “Do you have a Metrocard in your pocket?” asked Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, chair of the New York City Bed Bug advisory board. “Well, a bed bug can slip into a crack that a Metrocard can slip into. The tiniest little crevice. And they are flat until they feed.”

Eating makes them inflate like a balloon—with human blood. But even after a meal, they’re difficult to spot. Bed bugs usually only come out of their crevices between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.

“It’s their secretive, nocturnal behavior that allows them to get into places and avoid detection,” said Richard Cooper, vice president of Bed Bug Central, an authority on the subject.

Entomologists don't know why there's been an increase in bed bug cases in New York City. But they agree that detecting bed bugs early is the key. The bugs are the insect analog to rabbits—a female lays 2 to 5 eggs a day. Not even cockroaches can match that rate.

So what should a person do if they suspect they might have bed bugs? You could put your clothes, sheets, and other belongings into a dryer.

“A dryer is going to kill eggs and adults,” said Gil Bloom, an entomologist with Standard Pest Management.

But if you’re waking up with bites, it’s time to start tearing apart your bed.

“I would look immediately at the mattress, the seams of the mattress and the corners of the mattress, and the headboard,” said Gangloff-Kaufmann.

Another remedy is to use what’s called a “climb-up insect interceptor.” It looks like a plastic dog bowl, and the inside is covered with a thin layer of talc. You put it under the feet of a bed or dresser, and if a bed bug falls in, he can’t get out.

But these deterrents will only get you so far in the war on bed bugs. Entomologists say that even if the city’s new measures are used by millions of residents, the crafty bed bug will still find a crevice to live in and a nice meal to feast on in the night.

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Comments [4]

upholstered headboards

A headboard is something that you do not realize how much you would enjoy until you own one. Many individuals enjoy sitting in their bed at night to either read a book or watch some TV before go to sleep. If you do not have a headboard, you are forced to lean against the hard wall. I do not know about you, but my back can not handle that for long, I think so. If someone have a headboard attached to your or our bed, if, you can comfortably rest up against it instead. While all headboards are a comfortable alternative to resting up against a wall, upholstered ones or you are by far the softest and most comfortable.

Nov. 12 2012 01:09 AM
Anntelope from NYC

DDT no longer works as well as people seem to believe it does and that's because the bed bugs have built up a resistance to it. Another reason it should not be used is because there is NO safe level of DDT. You could be rendering the children in your building sterile or cause Cancer in yourself or others not to mention it destroys the land it sinks into and perhaps that's permanently. There are far better ways to kill bed bugs including the freezing methods or the heating methods like STEAM.

Aug. 20 2010 03:42 PM
Say No To BBs from NYC

For someone who has lived through this twice, it's extremely traumatic. It has totally changed how I live and enjoy this amazing city. Relieved to see something is being done but need a lot more than $500K and I agree about the pesticides. Bottom line it’s not just mattresses; it can be in your clothes, cell phone, furniture (on the street). Think the city should look into providing professional services to those who have their apts infected (as you can get turned away by local laundry services and who wants to use a dryer in a possibly infected building!). Also counseling, and if this doesn’t stop (or slow down) soon, insurance. We have to keep in mind that if neighbors don’t go through the proper procedure – which can cost thousands of dollars and time away from work – then the problem will never leave the building and it’ll be a vicious reoccurring cycle. Come on NY! Let’s take back (our sanity) and the greatest city in the world!

Jul. 29 2010 03:53 PM
Rita Capolarello from New York, NY

Until a pesticide is created that the bed bugs cannot resist the use of DDT will have to be allowed at least temporarily.

The City is too infested and the amount of bugs is escalating.

One major remedy would be to have the Sanitation Department go into homes to pick up mattresses instead of having people leave them on the street. This is done in several cities in the US and Canada. Most of these mattresses are thrown on the street without protective plastic covers. This is a major contribution to the problem.

Jul. 28 2010 08:28 PM

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