Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It began with a few bites. Itchy, swollen, and red, they looked like mosquito bites. Then the bug appeared. On my bed. I trapped it in a seltzer bottle. A quick review by an expert confirmed my worst fear: I have bed bugs.

As every New Yorker knows by now, the city is infested, from Alphabet City squats to Park Avenue penthouses. As one Times writer put it, "Bedbugs are back and spreading through New York City like a swarm of locusts on a lush field of wheat." I have heard the stories and I have braced myself--because I knew it was only a matter of time before they got to me.

photo: my flickr

I may have to join the Bed Bug Club--seen here at the corner of 3rd and Smith in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. This odd storefront has been described by the Times as "a junk shop-cum-neighborhood hangout with a potpourri of images on its window, which is both message board and memorial: faded clippings of ground zero, a photo of firefighters digging in the debris, another of the mass exodus across the Brooklyn Bridge, a picture of the 1936 New York Yankees championship club, with Joe DiMaggio in the middle, like some somber saint..."

If anyone knows anything about this mysterious storefront, please share. But, more importantly, as my nightmare begins, if you know a good exterminator or have helpful tips, please let me know. As I write this, the sun is going down, the vampires are stirring in their hiding places. I don't want to go to bed.

To those also suffering, I have found the following links useful:
New York Vs. Bed Bugs
Treatment Prep


Anonymous said...

Hey J,

I just had bedbugs too. I think they are really bad this summer. The two most important steps in eliminating them are 1. find a good exterminator and 2. cover your mattress and box spring with the pricey $80 bed bug proof covers. (your pillow too) if the BBs have nowhere to infest, they will stop biting you, and go away. I used UMG pest control which was pretty reasonable, they charge around $430 and you have a 90 day guarantee. Also, you should wash everything in the apartment in the hottest water possible and then dry on high heat. Caulking up cracks in your floor will also prevent the Bbs from hiding in your walls. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

your landlord has the obligation to get rid of them for you if you have a rental. Don't know who my friend's landlord used but they were efficient. You have to wash all your clothes in very hot water--or throw them away--really--or they will return. Aye carrumba.

thenotoriousmeg said...

I just went through it, and feel your pain. Never got bitten and have seen no evidence 3 weeks after extermination. What disturbed me most was reading all the crazy stuff online, it becomes a lifestyle! Try not to panic, the dryer is your friend and be ruthless in going through your stuff in infested areas.

Here's my story:

Good luck!

Goggla said...

Oh no, what a nightmare. Take away what they want - your sweet, sweet blood. Drink vinegar??

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Ohhhh Nooooo!

Anonymous said...

I don't have bedbugs, but I think my situation might be worse: I have a crazy roommate who is convinced that her mattress is infested with bedbugs.

Anonymous said...

You are pretty much screwed. You need an exterminator. My roommate had them and he had to exterminate the whole place.

They get in wood, shoes, mattresses, everything.

Landlord should pay for it all.

Eileen said...

It's the worst. Had the little critters last fall. I think the constant turnover of apartments in my building, and summer guests from out of the country created/added to the problem. I ended up tossing a bed, mattress, box spring and all my linens.

The dryer does become your best friend for "scorching" clothes, towels, etc. If you are in an older building with steampipes, make sure there are no ceiling gaps. We stuffed ours with brillo pads.

Also, go online to Protective Bedding Company. They offer heavy vinyl zippered mattress & box spring covers that really work well.

I also had the super come three times with something he referred to as "not legal in NY" to spray the baseboards and that proved pretty effective.

You can get some excellent sprays in the local bodegas; I overturned my couch, bed frame, etc., and sprayed-soaked them as a preventative measure which, so far, has worked well.

It's once you've had them, you never want to go to that place again. You become almost paranoid...every time you have an itch, or see anything on your bed, you panic. But they do go away with a lot of hard work and constant lookout.

Jeremiah Moss said...

so far, i wouldn't wish it on the worst yunnie. well, maybe the worst.

thanks for the tips. an exterminator is on the case. i hope to be bug-free someday soon.

Anonymous said...

There is a website called bedbugger. The exterminator "Killer Queen" is unanimously lauded.

If you can afford it, get yourself a steamer. That kills the bugs and eggs. Don't try to flee your bed - like to couch. Also, there's this stuff called diotomaceous earth which you dust in all the cracks and crevices of your apt.

Also, post a sign in your building. Everyone who might have them has to get rid of them or you'll just be reinvested. Also, register your building at the bedbug registry, that gives notice to potential tenants etc. that there has been a prob.

Anonymous said...

Had a bad case of them in '05 - in the pull-out sofa and the bed. Got rid of them by:

1) Wash every piece of clothing on hot, dry on hot, dry-clean everything else. Keep sealed in bags until bugs are gone.

2) Bought a steam cleaner (Shark brand, around $50 bucks) and steamed the entire mattress and sofa, also all cracks and crevices in the wood floor and bed frame.

3) Bought a shop vac and vacuumed every crevice of the entire house.

4) Bought caulking and sealed all major cracks, crevices, etc.

5) Bought diatomaceous earth, duster and a mask. Heavily dusted the mattress, bed frame, and all crevices in the wood floor. Also dusted all nooks crannies and mattress on sofa. Note: do not vacuum it up. The diatoms are like microscopic glass shards and shred the bedbug exoskeletons. You will have to redust 1-2 times a week and forgo sweeping. It's harmless (they feed it to farm animals) but try to avoid getting it in your eyes. You should also avoid the brands that have pesticides - not necessary.

6. Get a mattress cover designed for bed bug containement. Also, coat the legs of your bed with vaseline or set them in dishes of water - bugs will not be able to crawl up from the floor.

To maintain, you will have to vacuum 1-2 times a week and reapply the DE. Do not open mattress cover - just resteam bed, crevices, additional furniture as needed.

If you follow this process, you should be able to eliminate the problem within a month to 2 months. Note that for the most part, extermination will not work unluess you take measures to kill the freshly hatched bugs - hence the DE. Don't get discourages if you notice bites - these fuc*ers are hard to get rid of.

Bug free now for 4 years...

Renee Corea said...

Thanks, Jeremiah. I just want to say that the bed bug experience ends. Unaccountably it seems sometimes, but it does. Keeping that in mind can be useful.

Talk to your neighbors is my best tip. Good luck.

cat said...

Also Jeremiah they don't like heat (as the dryer info confirms). So I've been told using a blow dryer on them works (but not sure if they die then or just move). A friend's mother said in the 'olden days' they would put small candles in glass on the mattress and that would get rid of them (although I'm not sure how). If there's a toxin-free solution obviously that would be best... (all these things become 'big' business). I wonder also in sanitized New York :) why there is an infestation of bed bugs!

some of the things that are 'not legal' or in the bodega, you still want to be careful for your health / environment ... so of course exercise caution as much as you want them out of there!

Also check out - free book online focusing on non-toxic approaches! I know the person who wrote it and he has a lot of experience. I have not read what he suggests for bed bugs.

best of luck!


thea said...

noooo! sorry to hear the news, Jeremiah.

has anyone tried hiring Rosco, the bedbug dog?

also i'd do some research before/caution against putting DE in the mattress/bedding, soft items your face is close to, seems it would be likely for you to inhale it and I am pretty sure that it will damage your lungs (why you should wear a mask when distributing it into the baseboards etc..). but, not positive. just suggest you look into it.

Bob said...

See if you can get a hold of some DDT. It's highly illegal but also highly effective against the little bastards.