Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bed Bugs Do Not Taste Like Chocolate Chips

I was just eating a soft-baked chocolate chip cookie with my coffee when I saw on the back of my thumb what looked like a bit of chocolate chip. I licked it and realized it was a bed bug. Ewww…. They’re so brazen that they crawl up on me even when I’m not on the bed or sleeping.

It’s on.


Well, it’s not just the mattress that’s going out, the bed’s going out with it. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I own a captain’s bed which is basically one big hunk of pressed wood with drawers and a deep storage space.

The mattress cover debate is over, at least for me. I have waited too long to do this, perhaps out of reluctance to get rid of the furniture I had enjoyed for most of my life. And now the bed bugs have truly taken over. For the last two nights I have slept in my living room because I can no longer sleep in my own bed. For the last week or so, I had been sleeping in my bed with the lights on, and that worked only for a short while. Soon the bugs came out in droves on the mattress and pillow whenever I lied down on it, regardless of the time of day or whether the lights were on or not. And if I can longer sleep in my bed, there is no reason for me to have a bed. I also have to get rid of my headboard, which I have literally had since childhood. I don’t ever remember that headboard not being in my room.

In the last few days, as I open the drawers to get socks, underwear or shorts I see bed bugs. They have laid eggs numerous times on the bed sheets, so my mattress is now bare, sans comforter, sheets or pillow. They have laid eggs inside the drawers, on my socks, on my underwear. We called an exterminator who indicated that there is a large colony of bed bugs underneath my bed and this is most likely where they hide until, of course, the minute I sit or lie on the mattress.

As I lift the mattress, I see the top of the bed is dotted with bed bug feces, and through the tiny slits between the pieces of wood, bed bugs happily travel between the surface and deep within the wooden recesses of my bed. It is truly a sad day for me.

Fortunately, I have an armoire on the other side of my room, which to my observation and inspection has not yet been infiltrated by these monsters. It has enough drawers inside to accommodate the clothes I currently keep in my bed. The only challenge is finding a place for the various items which currently occupy those drawers. I think for posterity’s sake I’ll throw a sheet over my mattress and put on some covered pillows so I can take one last picture of my room with the headboard and bed in it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mattress Covers Are Gross

In my March 18 entry regarding spring cleaning, an anonymous poster suggested I buy a mattress cover rather than commit mattress-cide. The poster added a link to a company web page showcasing their mattress and pillowcase covers. Now I’m guessing the poster may have been an employee of the company in question. But I started reading the description of the product anyway.

I had heard of people buying mattress covers to combat their bed bug problems, but I’ve come up with a few flaws in their logic which show why mattress covers may not be so great after all.

The solution that mattress covers provide is that once you have vacuumed and scrubbed down your mattress, and encase it in a zipper-sealable cover, it will trap whatever bed bugs are living inside your mattress. Since bed bugs can live up to a year without eating, the company suggests that you wait well past one year after first encasing your mattress in this cover to remove the cover and discard the by then presumably dead bed bugs.

I have a problem with this because in many cases bed bugs also reside in nearby furniture, namely box springs and headboards. My particular case is very unique because I own a captain’s bed (which is identical to the one in the picture, sans the matching headboard, lamp, bureau and mirror), completely made out of wood. With the captain’s bed, no box spring is needed to support the mattress, as you can see. Though the bed bugs in my home primarily reside in the mattress, I’ve also seen them inside the drawers of the bed as well as the headboard.

Another problem is even if the bed bugs don’t eat for months because they’re trapped inside the mattress cover, they’ll still be alive, which means they’ll still be mating. Here comes the disgusting part: after a few months after you’ve applied the mattress cover, there will be generations of bed bugs residing within the cover itself. I can only imagine myself climbing into bed and feeling scores of bed bugs’ bodies through the cover and into my backside. It’s truly a disgusting mental image.

This brings up another issue: what if during the course of the 12-month period, the cover is ruptured in some way? Maybe you accidentally puncture it with something with a jagged or sharp edge, and then the dozens of bed bugs start pouring out, hungry for human blood? Now you have a real infestation problem on your hands!

If I had a mattress cover, I would never feel safe removing it, even after two or three years. The only way I could see myself removing a mattress cover from a bed bug-ridden mattress is if it were completely submerged in water while I was doing it. From my observations, bed bugs die almost instantly when even partially submerged in water, like when I throw them into my toilet bowl and they immediately stop moving completely.

Has anyone had any personal experiences with mattress covers? If so, if anyone has advice on this, even an anonymous post would be appreciated.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bugged Out on MSNBC!

Woo hoo! MSNBC did a story on bed bugs and on their site lists bed bug-related blogs, including the Do You Have Herpes entry. Does this mean I've finally made my mark in the Blogosphere now that a big shot media outlet like MSNBC has thrown up a link to Bugged Out? Imagine the millions of people who will read Bugged Out because of that link. Is this some sort of blogger rite of passage? Can you tell I'm excited?

To see my link, scroll down to the sidebar box that says "Blog Buzz." Bugged Out is the third link from the top.

Also, Dateline NBC will discuss bed bugs this Sunday night at 7 p.m., Eastern time. Maybe they'll mention Bugged Out!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spring Cleaning

I spent the last few days engaged in a heavy-duty cleaning project, one of many I've had since I first discovered the bed bugs. I vacuumed the hell out of my bed and room, I mopped the floor and threw out lots and lots of newspapers and other paper products I do not need.

One thing I've learned about bed bugs is that they like clutter because it gives them great places to hide, and even better places to lay eggs undisturbed because most clutter just sits around in the same place for long periods of time. I am a bonifide packrat, and I am not known for being tidy. So the whole Mr. Clean transformation still takes some time getting used to.

One reason to start cleaning house is so that it wil be easier for an exterminator to manuever around your dwelling and getting to work. Besides, wouldn't it suck if you paid a king's ransom for some fumigation, and a small colony of bed bugs survived because they were safely hiding under some crap you left on the floor?

Probably the best reason to start doing a thorough cleaning and subsequent fumigation would be to get it done before the weather really gets warm and bed bugs really start cominig out. New York City is known for really hot, sticky weather in the summer months, even as early as June. Bed bugs hate cold temperatures, so like most other insects, warm temperatures will prompt them to do less hiding and more exploring. And more exploring means more mating. And more mating means more bugs.

My next project is going through my closet to go through my wardrobe, because the closet is right next to my bed, and I've seen bed bugs crawling on my shirts at least once as I was rifling through my closet in the morning. I'm going to either throw some stuff away (like my junior high school and high school graduation caps and gowns) or wash them and give them to Goodwill. See, I used to weigh 320 pounds and then I lost about 110 pounds over a few years. Problem is because I'm a slob and a packrat, I never really got rid of my ginormous size 52 clothes.

That project will be followed by a most dreaded act which I have hesitated to address and have kept telling myself I didn't need to do it: committing mattress-cide. I know my bed is the bed bugs' original roost. And seveal times I have examined the bottom of my mattress and found a small army of baby bed bugs scurrying in all directions. I need to wrap it up in a bag, call 311 and find a legal dumping site. I've seen people dumping large items (furniture, air conditioners, etc.) but I've always been afraid to do so, because paranoid me, I'm afraid the cops might dust for fingerprints, find mine on them, and slap me with a heavy fine which I understand can be up to $20,000.

One of the reasons I didn't want to get rid of this mattress is because it is a very expensive, very high-quality item. How high-quality, you ask? I've had this mattress for about 15 years and it's still as firm as it was the day I got it. My financial situation is worse now than in recent years, so the chances of me buying a new mattress is not too good.

I'll probably just end up buying an inflatable mattress. Perhaps Consumer Reports can help me pick out a quality blow-up mattress, and if they do have such a report, I'll throw it up on Bugged Out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


As one could imagine, I have been searching the Web for fumigation options to eradicate my bedbug problem. From what I've found, I keep encountering the same two annoying obstacles:

1) The services are primarily designed for houses, such as the great big fumigation tent fumigators will throw over a house. That does nothing for me, because, like many New Yorkers, I do not live in a house. I live in a 10-story, 110-unit apartment building. You wanna throw a tent over that?

2) Even the exterminator services admit that their treatments are not completely effective, and that re-treatments are often required. My guess is that whatever they're using, it's probably designed to kill a different species of insect, like termites or ants.

But then I came upon an interesting article in Pest Control Magazine, which from what I've read on its website, is a trade publication for exterminators. The article talks about Vikane, a substance made by Dow Chemicals. It claims to be powerful enough that only one treatment is needed. Another claim I like about this Vikane is that it is more environmentally-friendly than other fumigants and that you don't need to wash your clothes, dishes or bedding after the fumigation is over.

Not surprisingly, I cannot find anything on the Dow website that estimates how much this treatment costs. I guess Dow will let contractor exterminators break the bad news to consumers. I am still a bit suspicious of this Vikane chemical, mainly because even Dow admits the chemical is designed to combat termites. Shit, I wish I had termites instead of bed bugs! Everybody seems to know how to get rid of those pests.

I'll provide updates on additional information on this product as it becomes available, especially how much a local exterminator would charge for a Vikane fumigation.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The United Latino Bed Bug Fund

I came across this ad in Craigslist on how to make money blogging, and not just the pennies promised by Google's AdSense program. It's called Blogitive, and the way you make money is not as subtle as having AdSense post a tiny list of links on your page. It works more like product placement, in which you casually mention one of Blogitive's sponsors

I know it may sound crass and commercialistic, but there's nothing wrong with mentioning a commercial sponsor as long as the reference is done so within the context of an actual post and not just creating a post just so you can mention a sponsor.

So for anyone who has a blog, especially someone with a bed bug blog and needs some cash to pay their exterminator, this seems like a cool way to make a few bucks doing something you were already doing for free.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brewer Update #2

Well, February has come and gone and Councilwoman Gale Brewer has yet to introduce the bedbug legislation she said would introduce. For those of you following this story, in January, many newspapers reported that the Councilwoman planned to introduce in the City Council some legislation in February that, if passed into City law, would regulate such things as the sale of used mattreses to ensure they are bed bug-free and the commercial transportation of used mattresses in the same storage unit as new ones.

I've been receiving quite a few e-mails inquiring as to when the Councilwoman is going to do what she said she was going to do, so I figured I'd call her office once more and get some answers.

Her chief of staff assured me that Councilwoman Brewer would soon draft and introduce this piece of legislation to the Council's Health Committee. Well, the Health Committee already held te first and second meetings of 2006 last month, and no mention of Brewer's bed bug legislation was mentioned in the media or in the Council website.

I called her office today and a staffer informed me that Brewer wants to schedule a public hearing on this matter before introducing such legislation to the Health Committee. They added that her chief of staff would get back to me with more details.

In defense of the Councilwoman's decision to gather public testimony on this matter before drafting any legislation, I think it's a sensible move on her part because the testimony she will recieve on how bad the bed bug problem is in New York will give her a stronger case when she tries to convince Health Committee members to support the legislation. I know there are a lot of New Yorkers who are itching (pun very much intended) to find out exactly when this legislation is going into play and exactly how the legislation will address the bed bug problem.

I will provide an update as new information becomes available, and I will especially provide the times and dates of this public hearing once it has been scheduled.