Friday, December 26, 2008

Do You See What I See?

For those of you familiar with my previous post regarding my discovery of bed bug shell casings in a plastic yellow basin of mine, it should be interesting to note that not everyone agrees with my conclusion. Some people are saying they are bed bug eggs, live bugs, dead bugs, babies, etc. Unfortunately, the pictures were taken with a mediocre digital camera and the evidence has since been flushed away.

But now I've uploaded the originals, straight from the camera to a specially marked Picasa Web Photos album. Be sure to use Picasa's zoom function so you can get the best look possible. Also, if anyone wishes to download the pics and enhance the blurrier images with their very expensive Adobe software, they are more than welcome.

Have fun, and happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

They Left Their Calling Card...

Perhaps one of the more annoying aspects of a bed bug infestation is that even when you don't see them anymore, you still come across little discoveries like this just so you know they're never really gone.

What you're looking at in this yellow basin are bed bug shell casings. As bed bugs grow, they also grow a new shell which breaks the old shell, kind of like a snake shedding its skin. This basin was empty and under my bed for the last month. Now M and I can't even remember the last time we saw a live bed bug or even been bitten by one, but this disgusting find serves as a friendly reminder that we should never rest easy. We should never stop inspecting our own homes, and most definitely, we should never stop cleaning. Most importantly this discovery serves as a reminder that those who have endured bed bug infestation should never, ever assume their homes are finally bed bug-free.

One of my financial goals if for M and I to have enough money one day to hire someone to do all this bed bug cleaning (the weekly mopping, the inspections, etc.) so we can somewhat relax.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blood Suckers Are All The Rage

Due to technical difficulties (temporary inability to pay my Verizon bill) I haven't been able to blog the last few weeks.

In these last few weeks I've kind of gotten hooked on this new HBO series, True Blood. It's really a great TV series which M and I watch religiously. The show is set an alternate reality in which vampires do exist and have "come out of the coffin" upon the invention of synthetic blood (the product is called True Blood) originally designed the demands for human blood transfusions but had the unintended side effect of providing vampires with artificial food, so feeding on humans is no longer necessary. The show itself focuses on a fictional Louisiana town called Bon Temps (the name means "good times" in French; I wonder if that's some sort of literary device) in which a telepathic human waitress falls in love with a vampire and whose boss is secretly a shape-shifter who can change his form to resemble any animal. Anyone who hasn't seen it should definitely check it out on HBO or on YouTube.

Now there's a new movie, Twilight, in which a human falls in love with a vampire.

Despite my fascination with True Blood, I don't know why this vampire stuff is all the rage. Scores of people have been living with nocturnal blood sucking creatures for the last few years. Where's our HBO TV series? Where's our movie?

Shit, I think I'd rather have the vampires than the bedbugs.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Debates, Bed Bug Disputes Filling Our Courts and Bed Bugs on Broadway

Did anyone see last night's Presidential debate? I wonder where the candidates stand on the bed bug infestation in the U.S.?

I came across this story in the New York Sun about how bed bug disputes between landlords and tenants are piling up in the city's courts. One example offered was of a tenant paying $7K a month for an apartment on the Upper East Side who signed a lease without knowing that several floors in the building were undergoing a massive extermination of bed bugs. Now the tenant wants out of the lease, arguing he wouldn't have signed it if he knew about the bed bug infestation.

What I'm wondering is, why the hell hasn't this impacted real estate values yet? I mean, everywhere else in the U.S. the mass foreclosure of homes is driving real estate values down, but in New York, people are still being charged $7,000 a month to live in a bed bug-infestation building! Many New Yorkers I know are leaving the city to live in states and buying foreclosed homes to live in because they can no longer afford to pay so much money in NYC for so little space, and no free parking to boot.

All I know is that the sky-high rents in New York City will not stay that way forever, and be bugs will definitely play a large role in the devaluing of property.

In other news, I guess I was on to something when I started writing my bed bug haikus.

I just found about this new musical called Bedbugs! Here's the ridiculous synopsis from their website.

"80s rock excess meets the Creature Feature. It’s 2012 and Carly, an exterminator hell-bent on avenging her mother’s freak death, has accidentally mutated NYC Bedbugs into bloodthirsty killer Hair Metal Rock Gods. Sweet sidekick Burt has a plan, and troubled Canadian chanteuse Dionne Salon has stumbled onto the scene. But will Carly listen to them and save NYC—or be seduced by her own creation?"

It doesn't exactly sound like something I'd pay to see, but apparently it has sold out in the past, so someone must like it. I seriously doubt that anyone in 2012 is listening hair metal rock. I'm glad it died in the 80s.

I wish someone would write a musical about living with bed bugs in New York City. No shortage of drama and conflict in that story!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Bed Bug Haikus!

I didn't know what to blog about this week and I had a bit of a creative streak, so I churned out some more bed bug haikus.


R wants a task force

But her pleas fall on deaf ears

Bloomberg’s bed bug-free


R wants a task force

Can we trust the government?

Ask the Indians


A menage a trois!

M, a bug and me

Not very sexy


Caitlin’s M.I.A.

Her bed bugs, long time no see

They are just hiding


Bed bugs in college?

Students with bites and huge debts?

Stay home; get a job


Renee still insists

On City bed bug task force

But pols do nothing


Hey, nobugsonme!

Hablo espanol tambien!

Bed bugs just speak bite.


For bed bug orgies

Poor Brooklyn is Ground Zero

Thank God I’m in Queens



$300 a room

Go out and turn tricks



$300 a room

Time to sell cocaine



For bed bug control

Where is price control?


Let’s get together

Start our own bed bug task force

Cuz’ Council does zilch


Bugs on your mattress

Bites all over your body

Which wrist to slash first?


Just pick up your phone

Tell 311 bed bug woes

Who promptly do zilch

Feel free to share your own bed bug haikus. Remember, the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables and the third line is 5 syllables! Have fun!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Menage a Trois (not the cool kind)

I knew I'd come in contact with a live bed bug in my home sooner or later, but not like this.

Before yesterday, I hadn't seen a live bed bug in my home for about a month, which is why I didn't have much to blog about. But yesterday M and I were engaged in foreplay on the bed [we had misplaced our clothes ;) ] and we were kissing when she stopped and told me I had a small brown bed bug on my cheek. Using her fingernails as tweezers she expertly plucked it off my face, and apparently the bug's beak was still penetrating my flesh because it stung a bit as she jerked it off (the bed bug, not me).

Unfortunately, M and I are not swingers, so we instead invited our little go-in-between to a friendly game of Bed Bug Barbecue. Needless to say, the romantic mood was shot and we got dressed faster than a john in a haunted whorehouse.

My only dilemma, besides having seen a live bed bug in my home, is that I have no idea whether the bed bug was male or female. I don't know whether I should just be grossed out or if I should join the Royal Navy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Bed Bug Task Force

Apparently another bed bug blogger was so moved by my last post that she decided to offer a one-word rebuttal.

Renee has had this campaign for a bed bug task force to be established in this city for a while. Unfortunately, she's waiting for the government to get around to it. For those of you familiar with Bugged Out, I've been chronicling an endless journey to nowhere as the City Council pretends to help New Yorkers. In January 2006 Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced into the Council legislation that would ban the sale of reconditioned mattresses, ban new mattresses from being transported next to new ones and establish a Bed Bug Task Force. Long story short, the bill died in committee and is dead until further notice.

I feel that no matter how many times Councilwoman Brewer re-introduces her bed bug bill, it will meet the same fate. I responded to the post titled "Bugged Out Thinks We're Wasting Our Time" and suggested that Renee is not wasting her time by calling for a bed bug task force in New York City, she's just wasting her time if she's going to wait for the government to establish one. The City Council had two and a half years to get this going; it seems a bed bug task force would have to come from the private sector, in the form of a nonprofit organization.

I'd really like to discuss launching a nonprofit bed bug task force, but I have no idea what it takes to start a nonprofit organization, or specifically what social services could such an organization offer to those suffering from a bed bug infestation.

Any suggestions?

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Poll

Writing about government intervention in regards to bed bug infestations inspired me to launch a brand new poll on my side bar asking visitors if they've ever turned to the government for help with their bed bug problems, and if so, who in government did they turn to? Please participate in the polls. They're slightly more fun than putting on your socks and every week a randomly selected poll respondent will receive a permanent black marker with which to mark their recently discarded furniture as infested.

I personally have not contacted the government mostly because I have no faith in the government's ability to do anything well.

But for those who have slightly less pessimistic than I am in the belief that government is a necessary evil and have actually contacted government officials for help in this matter, what has the response been? If you wish to share you story on this blog entry, please indicate which government agency helped you in this matter and if you're not in the U.S., tell us which country you live in.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bad news for Bushwick...

Leave it to the Brooklyn Eagle to give readers in-depth coverage of the bed bug situation in Brooklyn. Unlike the Daily Snooze and other New York dailies, the Eagle doesn't have their covers plastered with the Yankees or Paris Hilton.

That's the only good news here. The bad news is that according to 311, Bushwick is the "bed bug capital of Brooklyn", logging 550 complaints of bed bug infestations from that neighborhood only in the first six months of 2008. Stay away from those benches in Bushwick Park!

The runners-up for the title are Flatbush, Midwood and Prospect Park South. Other honorable mentions include Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, and Boerum Hill with Mill Basin and Flatlands coming in dead last in number of bed bug infestation complaints.

The article also contains a few personal testimonies and a few basic tips I'm sure we're all familiar with by now. Pretty well-written and reported.

The article made me wonder how my own neighborhood ranked in regard to bed bug complaints so I Googled bed bug 311 complaints. As a result, I came across this interesting bed bug blog which featured 311 bed bug complaints for every neighborhood in New York. Actually, the areas are not categorized by our city's vague neighborhood boundaries but rather by Community Districts, which may encompass more than one neighborhood (you have to scroll down a bit to find the chart).

According to the chart, which only tracks up to June 19, 2008, Bushwick, with 550 complaints logged, is not only the bed bug capital of Brooklyn but of all five boroughs as well. The runners-up citywide are Washington Heights/Inwood (477 complaints), Flatbush/Ocean Parkway/Midwood (364), West Harlem/Morningside Heights/Manhattanville/Hamilton Heights (332), and Central Harlem (330). Given these statistics it's hard not to determine that the bed bug infestation in New York is concentrated in Brooklyn and upper Manhattan.

But I have to question the accuracy of 311 complaints as an indicator of which neighborhoods are have the highest rates of infestation because I don't think that most New Yorkers think to call 311 about a bed bug infestation. I certainly didn't call 311 about my problems, but that's only because I don't expect the government to do anything about it. But I've had a lot of people suggest I write my Congressman or my Councilman or my Senator. As if that will do anything.

Despite all of its most expensive efforts, the government can't keep people from getting high, it can't stop racism or sexism in the workplace, it can't prevent gun violence, it can't combat poverty, can't bring democracy to Iraq, can't keep illegal aliens out of this country, it can't keep jobs from going overseas, it can't teach children basic skills, it can't provide health insurance for everyone who needs it, it can't respond to emergencies in a timely fashion, it can't rebuild Ground Zero even after seven years, it can't provide adequate health care for its soldiers, it can't help people who are losing their homes, it can't balance the national deficit, it can't prevent terrorist attacks, it can't adequately equip its troops, it can't find Osama bin Laden, it can't rehabilitate criminals, it can't keep politicians from accepting lobbyist "gifts", it can't control who or what passes through its borders, it can't keep teenagers from having sex, it can't guarantee its citizens guaranteed Constitutional civil rights, it can't keep prostitutes off the streets, it can't put out a bunch of forest fires at once, it can't protect the public from trans fats or second-hand smoke, it can't lower gas prices, it can't figure out whether or not a foreign country has weapons of mass destruction, it can't adequately protect its own nuclear energy facilities from terrorist attack, it can't facilitate a remotely democratic electoral system, and it can't protect the environment.

Given all the ongoing and historic failures of government, why the hell would I ever think my government could do a thing about a bed bug infestation?

If anything, government may actually be the problem. Two words: DDT ban.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Does the Media Hate Bed Bugs, Or Just The People Who Have Bed Bugs?

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I was recently in the hospital for six days due to a serious diabetes-related ulcer in my left foot. As a result, I lost my job at AM New York and am currently taking nausea-inducing antibiotics and am hooked up to a small machine that sucks out the infected tissue from the wound.

The good news?

  1. My doctor reports that my infection is 75% healed.
  2. I did not see one bed bug at the hospital where I stayed which was a great relief to me because while I only see dead bed bugs in my home and a live one rarely, I was still very afraid of carrying a bug to the hospital. I've experience a rise in bed bug paranoia ever since I found out an unused extension cord had become a nest for bed bugs.
I did find an interesting article regarding bed bug infestations in precinct jail cells and police cruisers, this time in New Rochelle, a small town in Upstate New York. It amazes me how ignorant most people are in regards to bed bugs. I've met many people (mostly Americans) who think that bed bugs do not exist outside of New York City. I don't quite understand the logic behind this theory (perhaps they are associating bed bugs with a particular ethnic group in New York City) but I am always pleased when I read about bed bugs infesting areas that are far away from New York City.
"Capt. Kevin Kealy said the issue first cropped up about three weeks ago, when some prisoners in the cell block complained of insect bites. There are no mattresses or cushioned surfaces, just a solid sleeping bench in the holding cells, he said, but bed bugs were discovered on the floor. The cell block was quarantined for three days of chemical applications to exterminate the bugs, Kealy said. "That seemed to have worked," Kealy said. But then bugs turned up in three radio cars from different tours, including a car used for a daytime tour of duty yesterday. The car was taken out of commission for 24 hours so it could be fumigated, he said."
Now some people might read that article and come to the conclusion that criminals spread bed bugs, or confirm some misconception that only poor people spread bed bugs, since most blue-collar criminals are poor. I think some people just like to equate bed bugs with a particular group to offer some logic or explanation toward the spread of bed bugs, or in some cases, their own bed bug infestation. For example, someone might believe that only people from the Middle East bring bed bugs to America and may think to themselves, "what Middle Eastern person have I been in contact with the past few days?" and use this mis belief to express their own real prejudice against people of Middle Eastern descent.

I don't know, I'm just babbling. Sometimes I feel like the media depicts people suffering from bed bugs in an unfavorable light, as if they're telling their audience, "This could never happen to you; these people are very different from you and I." In this particular article, only the inmates (and one cop) are reported as having suffered bug bites, and the inmates are directly blamed for having introduced the bugs to the cruisers and jail cells, even though the officers' locker room, which is obviously one part of the precinct a suspect would never be allowed to enter, is also fumigated.

The original bed bugs must have come in on a prisoner, he said. While the county jail said they did not have "a massive infestation," it only takes one person to carry in the bugs and create a problem, Kealy said.

"The concern is even if you exterminate every inch of the place, another prisoner could bring them in and they re-infest," Kealy said.

Myabe this is just isolated to American media or New York media. I know Bugged Out is visited by a lot of people from across the U.S.A. and around the world, so can anyone tell me about the quality of media coverage of bed bugs in their hometown or country?


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bed Bug Alert/New Job

I haven't had too much time to blog because I went from having no job to having two jobs. When it rains it pours, right?

The first job I'll blog about later, but my morning job is for AM New York, a free daily newspaper here in New York City. My job is basically to stand near a subway station and hand out copies to passersby (mostly commuters) from 6:30 am to about 9:30.

AM New York doesn't pay much, but when I haven't been able to find work anywhere else, I've relied on AM New York to at least provide me with a steady paycheck until I can find something better. This is like my third time working for the company in three years. I don't make a lot of money, but at least my supervisors and the public treat me with more respect than when I worked as maintenance at a supermarket or as a cashier at a wholesale club. Plus I'm located within walking distance from my other job.

If you want to stop over and say hi, I'm at the 116th Street station near Columbia University in Morningside from 6:30 to 9:30. I can talk and hand out newspapers at the same time, so you can tell me about your own bed bug experience and take a newspaper, too.

About the bed bug alert, maybe it's just me but the 116th Street station smells like bed bugs. Maybe you can come down and tell me for yourself if the station smells like bed bugs, if you're familiar with their pungent odor.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How To Tell A Friend About Your Bed Bug Problem

I've received a few comments from people who don't know what to tell their friends in regards to their infestation, or from people who've had bad experience revealing their bed bug problems to friends and family.

Like this comment from one understandably freaked-out Australian:

I am very conscious that everyone I have told ("friends") think that I've done something to bring this upon myself, and also that it's not a big deal. Of course, offer to show them the bugs, and they FREAK OUT and flatly refuse. It's real hypocrisy in action.
There is no easy answer to this. The answer really depends on who it is you're telling. The one thing you can be sure of is that you can definitely tell who your real friends are by telling them about your bed bug infestation. My advice is to tell as few people as possible. God forbid they become infested, either by you or somewhere else, they will blame you or worse, sue you. Better to keep such information to yourself, especially when you have no real way of knowing if your friends got bed bugs from you or from another source.

Last week I regained contact with an old friend who I had not seen in years. Our phone conversation became very uncomfortable when he asked me what had been going on in my life in the last few years. Careful to choose what events to tell him, I told him about meeting M, launching my other blog, I'm Not The Only One, my recent graduation from college, and my hopeless search for steady employment that is now stretching into six months. M invited him over for dinner, and I was nervous because I did not tell him about Bugged Out or about my past bed bug infestation.

My friend C came in and my eyebrows shot upwards as he casually dumped his knapsack on my floor. I immediately picked it up and placed it on a chair, saying I didn't want it to get dusty. He stayed for about six hours, and the three of us enjoyed the dinner. Since he and M are both into cooking and are Food Network addicts, they had lots to talk about. M made antipasto salad, steak in a honey barbecue marinade, yellow rice and corn on the cob. We had hazelnut coffee and Stella D'oro cookies for dessert.

We had a good time, but bed bugs were always in the back of my mind, wondering if C would find one in my home, or worse, take home a souvenir. As much as I enjoyed his company, I was glad to see him go. I'm not sure how he would react if he found out instead of me telling him. Would he feel I was hiding it from him? Would C suspect I was trying to intentionally pass bed bugs on to him?

The problem with telling people I have bed bugs (and I've told very, very few people), the revelation must be accompanied by the drawn-out back story of how I got them, how I lost all my furniture as a result, how I struggled to get rid of them and how I have them under control without actual proof of complete eradication. I know C is a pretty cool guy, and we've known each other for about 8 or 9 years, so he would understand, but might be apprehensive to return. M invited him over for my birthday next month. Maybe I'll tell him before then, at least before he finds out about Bugged Out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Watch Your Wires!

For those of you in New York City, you know the temperature went up to the 70s this week. I had a standing fan that I had put away during the winter months, and this week I took it back out to make up for the fact that I have no air conditioning. The area of my bedroom where I usually put this fan is too far away from any outlet, so I used a heavy duty extension cord to solve the problem.

But instead of unplugging the extension cord from the outlet back in November when I put away the fan, I simply left the extension cord on the floor, splayed out along the wall and still plugged into the outlet, without giving it a second thought.

Fast forward back to two days ago: I put the fan in place and get on my knees to plug it into the extension cord, except...

...there are bed bugs in the extension cord.

The extension cord itself is covered with little dots of bed bug feces, and live bugs are crawling out of it, and some dead bugs fall out of the cord as I pick it up. My eyes follow the length of the cord back to the outlet (actually it's one of those box adapters that turn two outlets into six), where I can see a few specks of bed bug feces. Long story short, I replace the infested cord as M mops the area and carefully wipes down the outlet with rubbing alcohol.

I have no idea if the bugs that ventured inside the old extension cord sensed heat from the live electrical currents, mistaking it for body heat. If anyone knows if there's any connection between bed bugs and electricity, it would be great if they could sare with the rest of the class.

I usually have a no picture policy at Bugged Out, but I thought it was necessary to show these photos. Let this be a lesson: watch your wires!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Report From Councilwoman Gale Brewer

New Yorkers have long been disappointed by our City Council to effectively address the bed bug epidemic in their city. In January 2006, Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who represents Manhattan's Upper East Side, announced plans to introduce a bill which if approved would request the City ban the sale reconditioned mattresses and ban new mattresses from from being transported next to new ones and establish a Bed Bug Task Force. Her plans were to introduce this into the Council's Consumer Affairs Committee, which she does by mid-February, where it sits in the Committee for months. A spokeperson for Brewer, who promised to put me on a bed bug bill e-mail list, stated that her office wanted to hold a public hearing on the issue before introducing the bill into the Health Committee to gather public testimony that will help her case when she tries to convince Committee members to vote for it. The whole January announcement got her face in the paper, but she sure didn't do anything for New Yorkers suffering from bed bugs.

The Consumer Affairs Committee finally holds a hearing in September 2006. The hearing got a lot of press, especially for Brewer, but it didn't get much more else done for those New Yorkers living with bed bugs and those yet to have them in their homes. In fact, the Bed Bug bill died in committee.

Last week I received an update e-mail from Brewer's office, informing me of her latest move to boldly stand for nothing: On April 29, Councilwoman Brewer wrote a letter to the New York State Department of State to create regulations on how businesses can sanitize used mattresses before reselling them. Here's the letter in its entirety.


April 29, 2008

Ms. Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez

Secretary of State

Department of State
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231-0001

Dear Secretary Cortés-Vázquez:

New York City is trying to find a way to eradicate the bed bug epidemic, and as part of this effort, I would like to obtain more information about rules regarding reconditioned mattresses. Specifically, I would like to be informed about state guidelines for the sterilization process for used bedding. In 1996, the State Legislature passed State Law Article 25A, Section 385, but it seems that rules were not promulgated regarding enforcement of that law by the Department of State or the Department of Health. The law stipulates that these standards are to be used to deem mattresses acceptable for re-sale throughout the state.

We are drafting a Resolution in the Council to request that the Department of State pass such regulations. Many reconditioned mattresses are currently sold without much "reconditioning"; they are simply covered with a new layer of cloth. As this does not sanitize them, bedbugs can continue to live within the newly purchased mattresses. Any guidance on the rules would be helpful, especially any mandatory processes for sanitization before selling the reconditioned mattress.

A female bed bug can lay five eggs a day, and over five hundred in her lifetime. These insects bite people as they sleep, causing inflammation to the skin, welts, and itching. They also spread into wall crevices, window and doorframes, electrical boxes, floor cracks, baseboards, furniture, and wall-to-wall carpeting.

People who buy or use second hand mattresses, including families, the elderly and managers of low cost hotels, could end up sleeping on a mattress that is contaminated. Commercial retailers who sell reconditioned mattresses inadvertently victimize these individuals, who then find themselves with the additional economic hardship of hiring professional exterminating services. These mattresses act as nesting places, and are conduits for bedbugs to live and grow. The rising cost of fighting bed bugs impacts all sectors of New York City’s social and commercial life.

If you have any questions, please contact me, or my Chief of Staff, Shula Warren, at (212) 788-6975. I look forward to your response.


Gale A. Brewer


She then included a link from Dateline NBC's latest show, "Bed bugs living in new or refurbished mattress".

People who are familiar with my other blog know I am a libertarian and do not want government interfering in private affairs, especially in dealing with local business. This is a fine example of why the government should really not get involved in this and many other issues. The politicians pretend to care, hold meetings that go nowhere and lead to nothing. They take forever to address local issues, especially something as serious as bed bugs.

I think the private sector has done far more than the government to help the public. I give credit to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for creating their bed bug pamphlet to better inform New Yorkers about bed bugs, but it really didn't contain any information that most of us weren't already aware of. Information we already got from non-government sources like the pest control industry and various universities and media outlets. Some retailers have solved the problem by selling only used mattresses and completely sealing new mattresses in tough plastic wrapping.

So I really do think the private sector did more to help consumers than the government. Perhaps they did it in self-interest (the pest control industry informed New Yorkers to make them realize how badly they need to hire an exterminator, and retailers like Sleepy's refused to sell used mattresses at all in order to win customers over from those retailers who sell refurbished mattresses.), but they got the job done, without any help at all from our lame-duck City Council and local government. Unfortunately, the only thing New York City government excels at is arresting people for marijuana; according to the New York City Bar Association, for every white person arrested on marijuana charges, nine people of color are arrested for the same charges.

I believe that if this bed bug problem is ever solved, it will only be done by the private sector, and not by the government. If the government really gave a damn about eradicating bed bugs the only helpful it could ever do is repeal the ban on DDT and at the very least allow it be be researched in an unbiased manner to test its effectiveness of bed bugs and look for any serious side effects of DDT exposure to plants, animals and humans.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For the Record...

I will be deleting the long-defunct bed bug poll on my sidebar, "What have you parted with in the last 12 months due to bed bugs?"

But before I remove the poll from the sidebar and sending it to poll hell, I figured I'd record the results of this poll, which closed Dec 31, 2007.

What have you parted with in the last 12 months due to bed bugs?

Couch...34% (32 responses)

Bed Frame (including headboard)...37% (35 responses)

Mattress...48% (45 responses)

Other Furniture...38% (36 responses)

Apartment...17% (16 responses)

Sanity...71% (76 responses)

Significant Other...8% (8 responses)

For those of you who tuned in after 2008, don't feel left out! I will be resurrecting this survey from poll hell next week. It's not scientific, but it sure is fun!

Friday, May 09, 2008

One More Reason to Stand In the Subway

According to the New York Post, New York Daily News and one City agency, among other sources, bed bugs have exploded in population in our subway system, finding a comfortable home in the wooden benches on the subway platforms.

Bed bug sighting have been confirmed at the following subway stations:

  • Fordham Road, Bronx
  • Union Square, Manhattan
  • Hoyt-Schermerhorn, Brooklyn
While only three out of the dozens of subway stations in New York City have had confirmed sightings, there's no doubt in my mind that the others are just as contaminated.

Apparently, a bed bug workshop held in Greenpoint, Brooklyn last Thursday by the Department of Housing and Preservation Development slipped my radar; sorry about that. It's detailed in most of the news articles and it seems this declaration by media is based on what was discussed at that workshop. Fortunately, a blogger in Greenpoint attended the event and provided details.

Just for fun I thought I'd start another poll asking readers to tell us which borough's subway stations they have encountered bed bugs, if they have done so at all. Please, join in on the fun.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Children

I got this comment the other day from a frightened teeny bopper who just found bed bugs, presumably near her Hannah Montana pillowcase.

I am 15 and ive found bed bugs. at first i saw little brown& red bugs and thought nothin of it. then when i saw the blood fed ones crawling around i freaked.then more of them start comming and finaly i threw the bed out and got a new one.i was vaccumin like crazy,washing the comferter and sheets threw the pillows out and sprayed! and it didnt even affect em.i sprayed one constantly that i found,a blood fed one,and it keep crawling.and the sad part is the we also shampood the carpet and i found one last night at 3:00am and i mom saw them and saw that one last night and dont believe me and she thinks it ants or just bugs.which is is it possible that the bugs came back with a new bed?
Dear Bianca,

I'm so sorry you found bed bugs in your room, but I'm even sorrier your mom doesn't believe you. Did she see the blood stains or the bites on your body? Roaches and ants simply do not do that. Do NOT tell anyone at school about this because kids can be cruel. I got teased in high school and I was just fat. Don't even tell your friends.

Also, you should never replace furniture when you haven't even gotten rid of the bed bugs. Your mom totally wasted a bunch of money because that new bed will become infested. I'm broke; she could've sent the money to me. This is something your mom should really be worrying about, not you. Tell mom to come to Bugged Out for more info, tips and to keep us updated on your own bed bug experience. If she acts soon enough, she can prevent these bed bugs from spreading, because bed bugs can lay about 500 eggs at a time, and that's a lot.

Besides, you should not be reading Bugged Out because it is full of foul language, descriptions of various body parts and explicit descriptions of sexual activity between myself and my fiancee M, whose sister-in law is also named Bianca. And some awful people on this site have even advocated the use of alcohol and-gasp!-illegal street drugs to make themselves feel better about their bed bug problems. No, Bugged Out is no place for children.

Also, I think it's cute that you posted anonymously yet left your name at the foot of your comment. Did I say cute? I meant amusing.

Good luck Bianca, and try to pull your mom out of denial.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Condition Like No Other...

...that's the best way I could describe living with bed bugs.

In a previous post, I related my own struggle with diabetes and attempted to draw parallels between that and my ordeal with bed bugs. I said that in both situations, the affected party must drastically alter their lifestyle, implement a routine of corrective as well as preventative measures, and that in both cases the idea of giving up crosses one's mind at times.

One anonymous commenter stated the following, to which I feel I must respond:

Ok. I totally understand where you are coming from. Really I do. The "Don't give up" speech. I would trade bbs for a disease anyday. Yes I would. Why. 'Cause then my kids can have their character decorative pillows that they want. So my kids do not hafta live outta fu.kin' plastic bags and ugly, stupid platic bins. So my kids can have their toys and go to school normally. Disease affects that one person only. Sure, family members get sad about the disease, but family members do not hafta be quarantined like some freak or deadly virus. You can have a beautiful home with a disease. I have, really have thought about suicide from this bb bullshit. I even wrote 2 suicide notes. I feel like an unfit parent for doing too little about the bbs in my home. I'm doing the best I can and yet I feel I cannot protect my kids and I feel overwhelmed and outta control. If it was just me living by myself, I really wouldn't give a crap. Really. I would have no furniture except the basics like bed, tv, chair, that's it. But, when you hafta raise kids and seeing what they hafta go through just breaks my heart. I want my kids to have a nice plushy couch to sit on and watch tv and beds, etc. I don't even have their beautiful school pictures on the walls. This sucks!! How do families in other countries do this? I didn't end it because when I wrote goodbye to my kids in my note I just cry and cry. I LOVE my kids. But the pressure from this bb bullshit has pushed me over the edge. I live in NY. Yes, I know NY is infested. But, I feel so alone.

Don't tell me to see a therapist because I am.

Oh yeah, I don't wanna read any comments from people saying that they've been there and that this can't go on forever, etc. and that they understand. If you have bbs no more, then you do NOT know what I'm going through. Your ordeal is over, mine is not. You can move on, I cannot.
I understand where you're coming from, lady. Seriously, I do. I know that's exactly what you didn't want to hear, but it's my blog and I'm saying it. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone contemplating suicide because of bed bugs, though. Tell me you're not seeing a therapist because of the bed bugs! Not that I'm making fun of your reaction or your situation, mind you. There were many times when I too considered looking for a therapist due to my bed bug problem, but my fiancee M was my rock. We really relied on each other for emotional support.

I don't think you're overreacting at all, but I do think you're downplaying the impact a disease can have on a person and their loved ones. If, God forbid, one of your children was suddenly diagnosed with leukemia, would you be just "sad about it", as you stated in your comment, or would it absolutely devastate you as you watched your child's hair fall out and grow weaker each day, with little hope of recovery? I can't even imagine how my life would be destroyed if M, God forbid, suddenly was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

My analysis is that you and your family have had a relatively easy life up until now, and this infestation is probably the only devastating event you've had in your life. If you grew up in poverty, if you were abused as a child, if you have a disease or have recovered from one, you'd have some perspective, something to which you can compare your current infestation, and realize that as bad as things are, they could be far worse and you've endured situations that were almost as bad as your infestation.

In your comment you asked how families in other countries deal with bed bugs, and they deal with it because their lives were probably a lot harder than yours even before they had bed bugs. I love my country, but Americans only read international news when it involves the United States. Right now, there are people in Colombia enduring a 30-year civil war, and in Congo and Darfur, people are being shot or chopped into pieces due to tribal genocide. In Sub-Saharan Africa two out of three adults and 90 percent of children live with HIV, according to the United Nations. In Somalia people were rioting over food prices. In the city of Odessa in Russia, 1 out of 4 men have HIV. And in Iraq...well, we all know what's going on in Iraq. According to USAID, 2.7 million people worldwide die from malaria (with 90 percent of those deaths occurring in Africa), a disease that was wiped out in the U.S. and Europe in the early 20th Century, thanks in part to DDT-the same pesticide that was used to nearly wipe out bed bugs 50 years ago.

So how do people in other countries deal with bed bugs? At the risk of sounding arrogant, Americans on the whole live better lives than most of the other people on this planet. I'm a poor person in the wealthiest country on earth, and I'm a Latino in a country run by Anglos. I wouldn't want to be poor anywhere else but America, and I certainly wouldn't want to be an ethnic minority in any other country, either. I consider myself very lucky that I live in a country where so many people of different, races, ethnicities, religions and political beliefs get up in the morning and want to work together rather than slaughter each other. The people in other countries are surrounded by so much turmoil, when they do have bed bug infestations they have something to compare it to.

And please, don't hate on the plastic bags and bins; they're what's keeping your lives somewhat more livable with the bed bugs while you try to completely eradicate those little vampires. That's why I can't sign on to this whole environmentalism movement. These limousine liberals all declare war on plastic, but plastic has basically saved my life simply because bed bugs do not like it. My books are on my shelves in plastic bins; I have plastic dressers, plastic hampers, and milk crates for extra storage. I just replaced my cloth curtains with vinyl ones and I sleep on a mattress that is completely covered in thick plastic and on pillows that are covered in plastic and covered again with pillow cases. The tree-huggers don't understand what plastic means to poor people, and the way this economy's going, a lot more Americans are going to be joining the lower classes. Besides, the idea that the earth needs to be saved by humans, or that humans could ever hurt the earth is ridiculous and arrogant. If the earth ever feels threatened by our species, it will get rid of us like it has to 99 percent of the other species which once inhabited this planet (mind you, millions of years before our primate ancestors even learned how to walk upright 200,000 years ago).

I also can't get with the environmentalist movement because of their success in banning DDT, a chemical which lead to the near-extinction of bed bugs 50 years ago. Despite the fact that there was no unbiased research conducted on the environmental effects of DDT, one dead bitch wrote one book and it convinced the EPA to ban DDT in 1972. As a spokesman for the U.S. chemical industry famously said when the Carson's book, Silent Spring, was published,
"If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth."
Perhaps those days are upon us right now.

I don't have kids, so I'm not even going to begin to pretend I understand what you're going through. I do however, invite any bed bug sufferers who are parents to share their experiences and maybe even tips to help out a fellow parent in the same tragic situation.

As for my ordeal being over, you're dead wrong. The problem with one's home being infested once is the knowledge that it could very well happen again, either by accidental introduction of new bugs from the outside or a resurgence of bed bugs previously thought to have been successfully eradicated from one's home. I'm not going to bother to buy any wooden furniture or try to revert my home to what it used to look like before my bed bug infestation, not until DDT is legalized in the U.S. It's like fighting crime; the police know they will never keep their city crime free, but they do what they must to keep it as under control as possible and never allow it to get completely out of control. Just because crime is low doesn't mean you leave your doors unlocked, and just because you don't see bed bugs doesn't mean you go back to the kind of environment bed bugs crave.

But I do appreciate your comment nonetheless, because I know there are many New Yorkers living with bed bugs who feel the same way you do. And I think your comment offers them some small consolation that they are not alone in this. If Bugged Out accomplishes nothing else, it should be to let New Yorkers and everyone else dealing with bed bugs that they are not alone. When I first launched this blog in January 2006 I certainly felt alone, and I don't feel that way any more.

Keep the comments coming, and try to keep a positive attitude about all this, as impossible as it may seem. Might I suggest alcohol, or a less legal alternative?

Don't Mind The Ads

For those of you who have cared to follow, I’ve been looking for steady work for the last four months. I recently joined the CBS News blog ad network and that’s why you see all those long vertical ads on the sidebar. Right now I’m basically surviving on my tax refund because the money from a job I did last month has run out.

Unlike Google Ad, which allows you to place their links anywhere on the site, MSNBC requires they be near the top of the page. It just means you have to scroll down a bit farther to see the categories, posts, comments, blogroll and all the other fun sidebar features on INTOO.
For those readers who may find all of these display ads to be visually offensive, just bear in mind that unlike myself, you probably have a job. This is me surviving. I am so sick of filling out applications and going on job interviews that go nowhere. I’m also going to expand my writing hustle and my array of services.

I’ve lost faith in finding steady employment for now. I’ll still keep filling out job applications and pouring through classified ads, but I will be doing so as if I am buying a lottery ticket: I know I probably won’t hit the jackpot but I also know I have no chance of winning if I don’t play.

My new plan is simply to do what I can to get by and wait for the economy to eventually bounce back. This New Yotk Times article at least gives me some consolation:

“But the number of jobs reported lost by the Labor Department on Friday was significantly smaller than most analysts had predicted, and the unemployment rate nudged down to 5 percent, raising hopes that the economy may not suffer as severely as once feared.

“It strongly argues that this downturn will be mild and short- lived,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s “As long as businesses hold the line on their layoffs, the economy will weaken, but it won’t unravel.”

I was considering applying for the New York Police Department and the New York City Department of Corrections, and the exams are in May and June, but the Mayor has said that due to a decrease in federal funding, fewer officers will be hired this year, so my chances of being hired are not that great. The only government agencies that seem to be hiring en masse are law enforcement and the Armed Forces, and I figured while policing the mean streets of New York aren’t much safer than policing Iraq, at least I get to go home every night.

The City’s public school system is hiring teachers too, with a fellowship program that provides new hires with a free Masters in Education as long as they agree to teach in the public schools for five years. I’ve had a few friends who graduated from college and not only couldn’t find work in the field for which they studied or trained, but couldn’t find anywhere else and began teaching during the day as they attended graduate classes at night, so by the time they earn the Masters, they only have two or three years left under their contract. I wonder how many people have opted to become a poorly paid New York City public school teacher solely because they couldn’t find any other form of steady employment.

The next application season begins in August. Unfortunately, I missed the February application deadline because I was so confident I’d find a media job. That was stupid of me, because I could be teaching right now and earning a steady paycheck.

This post is a lot longer than I originally intended it to be, so I’m just going to end now. Again, don’t mind the display ads, and if you’re feeling charitable without having to donate any money, please click on a few of them.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Is It Worth It?

If you're like me, you've either spent a significant amount of time, money and effort to rid your home of bed bugs. Time from time, you've probably asked yourself, "Is it worth it?" Is it worth all the time, effort and money to rid your home of bed bugs? It seems like a losing battle at times, with only brief, sporadic victories, and just when it seems like you've won, you find you have to fight some more.

I can imagine some people contemplating surrender to their bed bug infestation, wondering just how bad it would really be to stop vigorously cleaning their home, keep their infested furniture, literally swim in bed bugs, endure the constant biting and simply adapt to life plus bed bugs.

How can I imagine this? Because I'm diabetic.

With diabetes, every morning I have to check my blood glucose (sugar in my blood) level by pricking one of my fingers with a stainless steel lancet and literally bleeding onto an electronic glucose meter. Depending how high or low my blood sugar level is that morning from a normally healthy blood sugar level, I inject myself with anywhere from 25 to 45 units of insulin and swallow three pills. I have to watch what I eat, or eat less of it, and in the evening I take one more pill. I work out three or four times a week, and I'm supposed to go to my physician for diabetes management once a month, although I don't always do that.

In addition, because diabetes symptoms always show first in the feet, I'm supposed to visit a podiatrist monthly. One of those symptoms is that the skin on the soles of my feet have died, and I have calluses on top of calluses, and I must spread moisturizer on the soles of my feet to keep the skin from cracking, which could lead to a small open wound and infections, which for diabetics are big trouble.

It's a big hassle to do all this on a daily basis, and despite all these measures, a diabetic can still suffer any acute symptom of diabetes, which while are not as life threatening as severe symptoms, can still make life harder. Severe symptoms? The nerves in your foot can die, which means that unless you carefully inspect your feet everyday for things like infections, sores or ulcers, you'll never know about it until it's too late.

Like diabetes, fighting a bed bug infestation also consists of a constant routine. You will find yourself cleaning every day and deep cleaning at least once a week, or if you have the money, routinely hiring an exterminator to apply industrial-strength insecticide at the tune of $300 a room. Fighting bed bugs is a big hassle, too.

Because of diabetes, I've had to severely alter my diet and make a lot of other lifestyle changes (the moisturizer, the pills, the blood monitoring, the working out, etc.) and I still have diabetes complications.

I'll be the first to admit, in terms of combating diabetes and bed bugs, that I don't always take every precautionary measure every day. Seriously, who the hell has the time? People have to go to work, to school, run errands and have some semblance of a social life. Add the fact that I have two blogs, and yeah, sometimes a day will go by without doing a regular cleaning, or a week will go by that I don't do deep cleaning. Sometimes I won't check my blood in the morning (especially if I'm running late) and I just take my meds and hope I don't get sick.

Fighting diabetes is like having a part-time job, as is fighting bed bugs. And when you factor in the job you have that actually pays money and all the other shit you have to do during the day, you barely have a life to live.

So in the back of your mind, giving up actually sounds like a good idea.

One thing I've learned (the hard way) from both diabetes and bed bugs is that if you don't address a problem early, it will only get worse. And the longer you take to address the problem, the worse it will get. I was kind of in denial when I first saw a bed bug in my bedroom. I killed it and thought nothing more of it. By the time I finally convinced myself I had an infestation, I no longer felt safe sleeping with the lights off. Check out some of my earliest posts from 2006, when I had just awaken and smelled the proverbial coffee and began to tell my own tale of bed buggery. As a result of my inaction and denial, I ended having to throw out almost all of my furniture because numerous bed bug colonies had materialized within my bed, headboard and of course mattress.

I also had to learn the hard way about diabetes in 2005 on a trip to Florida. I was going through a stage where I felt if I didn't eat a whole lot, I wouldn't have to bother taking medication. FYI, the normal blood sugar level is anywhere from 100 to 150, depending on who you ask. While in Florida, I suddenly became very, very cold, shivering uncontrollably while sweating profusely. Anything I ate came right back up, and I was sleeping about 20 hours a day, too weak to even walk for more than a few minutes. My family drove me to the emergency room at a hospital in Daytona. My blood sugar was about 500, and the doctors said they were shocked I didn't slip into a coma.

The whole time I was freaking out because I had no insurance and was horrified that I'd have to pay $2,000 or $3,000 for the hospital stay. Three days and two nights later I was released only because I swore to the doctors that I'd visit my own physician upon my return to New York. Florida state health insurance refused to pay my hospital bill because I was not a resident of Florida, and New York state health insurance refused to pay because I was not enrolled in the New York state health insurance plan at the time I became ill.

Six months later I received a bill from the Florida hospital for $12,000. I have yet to pay it since I was a college student up until last December, steady employment was hard to find, and the jobs I did find did not pay enough for survival and debt repayment. Needless to say, my credit rating is fucked.

As hard as it may be to believe, I still didn't learn my lesson about diabetes. In 2007, I was working, not watching what I ate, not moisturizing my feet and racking up sugar levels of about 300 or so. Twice at work (I was working as a cashier) I threw up at the register and was asked to go home. M took me to the emergency room at New York Hospital Queens to find out what was wrong with me. I changed into the hospital gown and the nurse noticed a reddish-purple blister on my right foot near my little toe about the size of my fist. A podiatrist cut the blister open to find my foot had become infected. Long story short, x-rays determined that the infection has indeed reached the bone of my little toe and the only way to keep the infection from spreading to the rest of my foot was to amputate my toe.

I've learned my lessons, and am serious about taking all preventative measures (as numerous as they are) with regards to my diabetes as well as fighting a bed bug infestation. What troubles me, however, is the knowledge that I will always have problems with diabetes despite my greatest preventative efforts and that, unless I die an unnatural death, diabetes will most likely kill me. It also troubles me to know that despite my greatest preventative efforts, I can never really be sure my home is 100 percent bed bug-free and that my home will never suffer a re-infestation. But what keeps me going is knowing that the alternative, giving up, is far worse than doing what I routinely do to maintain a normal blood sugar level and suppress if not eradicate the bed bug population in my home.

Obviously, suicide is the most extreme and truest form of giving up. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Protection, 32,439 Americans committed suicide in 2005. These are people who saw the predicament they were in and felt so overwhelmed, out of control and defeated that suicide appeared, at least to them, to be the only way out of it and the only thing in their life they truly had control over. I've met a few people who had diseases like HIV. cancer and MS, who had either seriously contemplated suicide or had attempted it. I even interviewed one young female basketball player for a high school sports article, who a week later, wrote a note stating she could no longer live as a Muslim and a closet lesbian before inserting her father's gun into her mouth and blowing her brains out.

I'm not sure how to end this post, except to tell all of you, no matter how hopeless, out of control or overwhelming your bed bug problems may seem, no matter how unsympathetic the rest of the world may seem to your plight, don't procrastinate in resolving your infestation, and for God's sake, never give up!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Working With Bedbugs

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while...

I've been dedicating most of my time to job hunting, a daunting task given the current state of the U.S. economy. The bulk of my work experience has been journalism, clerical work and retail, in order of years of experience. I've been out of work since January, with little to no help from the help wanted ads in the newspaper or the New York State Department of Labor, who told me to try Craigslist,, Yahoo! Hotjobs, and a slew of other employment-related web sites of whose existence I was already aware.

Why do I pay taxes? Oh yeah, because the government forces me to.

Lately, I've been perusing ads on, a classified ads website dedicated to media-related jobs. I found an awesome ad for a reporter/blogger for the online version of a major New York newspaper. I basically met all the qualifications, but I did have one problem.

I have two blogs, Bugged Out and I'm Not The Only One, which focuses more on politics and social commentary. That blog is a year and four months old, and Bugged Out is 2 years and four months long.

When I wrote about my blogging experience in my cover letter and resume, I only wrote that I'd been blogging for a little over a year. I was afraid that if my prospective employer knew that I was the blogger of a bed bug blog, they'd know I have, or have had a bed bug infestation and may be likely to not hire me. Workplaces can become infested just as easily as homes. As a matter of fact, I believe the Fox newsroom in New York City had become infested a while back. But having more blogging experience makes more qualified for the gig, so only claiming to have 1 year of experience instead of two put me at a disadvantage as well.

People talk about the stigma that comes with bed bugs, but no one ever talks about how it can affect someone's career. Would you tell your boss or co-workers that you have a bed bug problem at home? Would you even tell them you've had one in the past? I'd be afraid my supervisors would try to get rid of me.

If you've ever had colleagues find out about your bed bug problems, I'd love to hear your stories, and especially know what happened as a result of their discovery. I have had like four jobs in the last two years, and no one at work has ever found out my dirty little secret. I honestly don't know what I'd do if anyone found out. If anyone can offer some friendly advice on what to do in such a situation, I'd appreciate it.

Luckily, I have a job interview tomorrow at a music store in the Bronx, in M's mother's neighborhood. Keep me in your prayers, ok?


Thursday, April 03, 2008

How Do I Do It?

In my most recent post, an anonymous commenter said the following:

Wow! You do not own a vacuum? I've read that 2 of the most important things to do to rid one's home of an infestation is to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum and hire a pco to put down chemicals. Those 2 you are not doing. So how is it that your bb population is going down? Are you spraying chemicals yourself? Maybe you can let us know what you do so as to help others who are also poor and who cannot afford pcos.

This problem is getting worse, not better. You can get rid of everything you own to get rid of bbs and then go to a movie, ride a subway or sit on a subway bench, etc. and get reinfested all over again. But, we must live our lives, as you said. Heck, you can even get them from your job. FoxNews has them and so does lawfirm Cravath on 2 floors.

I hope you keep this blog going for bb sufferers. I know that the other anonymous poster sounded ignorant, but do not let that stop you from keeping this blog going. Yes, this blog has been around for awhile and yes, you still have bbs. That doesn't mean that you are not helping out people who are suffering w/bbs. You are being honest with your situation. There are a lotta people out there who hire pco's and go through the bagging and purging and other stuff and get rid of their bbs in a few months. Well, I feel that there should be no "time limit" on how long a person should have bbs or try to get rid of them. You and everyone else is trying their best and that's all anyone can do in this situation.
How am I getting rid of bed bugs?

Since I do not own a vacuum cleaner, M and I do a lot of sweeping and mopping. We have bare linoleum floors and we do not own have carpets or rugs. I would have to imagine that carpets and/or rugs would have to be great hiding places for bed bugs. We mop about twice a month. The experts who say you have to vacuum rigorously and religiously say so because they can't imagine an American who doesn't own a vacuum cleaner.

I also purchased Suspend AC, a pesticide specifically made to kill bed bugs that I bought from and it does seem to work; it claims to be a residual pesticide, which kills bed bugs long after the solution dries. The label does claim that even inhaling fumes from the concentrated pesticide may be fatal, so I have to dilute it with water before applying it as directed. I also have a gallon hand-operated pressure pump which I also bought from the abovementioned website. It kind of works like a Super Soaker, where you have to manually pump pressure into the jug so its hose attachment can spray the watered-down pesticide. I'm not too comfortable spraying chemicals in my home whose fumes alone can be fatal to humans, so I spray every other month or so.

I also got rid of a lot of wooden furniture (which were doubling as bed bug colonies), often using crates to hold up my TV, stereo, DVD player and other items. I bought plastic dressers from and plastic laundry hampers from a 99 cent store (I have two, one for colored clothes and one for white clothes). I've become increasingly concerned about my heavy window curtains becoming ground zero for the next great bed bug population explosion. I was actually considering trashing the cloth curtains and replacing them with shower curtains, but that's way too tacky, don't you think? Plus it probably wouldn't keep light out that well.

Eradicating bed bugs when your funds are limited is like any other aspect of life; you have to get creative and find alternatives for the things you can't afford. To me, if an expensive exterminator who charges $300+ per room can't even guarantee 100 percent bed bug eradication, you might as well do your own deep cleaning, furniture replacement and overall lifestyle changes and save a few hundred bucks, considering you even have a few hundred bucks to save!

Killing bed bugs directly can be quite enjoyable if you're down for playing Bed Bug Barbecue (hint: it requires a barbecue lighter!) and you have a linoleum floor. Each charred bed bug equals one point, and the game ends either when you've scored one million points or have not seen a bed bug in two months.

The whole lifestyle change and deep cleaning routine helps in case your home becomes re-infested. You'll be ready, your home will be ready and the bugs won't be alive in your home for very long.

Yeah, that anonymous commenter was kind of a douche, suggesting among other things that I advocate just settling for getting bit less and not working towards the lofty goal of total bed bug eradication. For the record, eradication is possible and it should definitely be attempted over and over again. I agree with you that there should be no time limit on how long it should take a person to rid their home of bed bugs. It's a long and arduous goal, but it's one that a person should strive for no matter how long it takes. I mean, if you don't get rid of your bed bug infestation in say, six months, should you just give up and let the bed bugs take over? Just spend the rest of your life with hundreds of little red bites on your body and just have bed bugs everywhere? Would that whacky Aussie commenter say that bullshit to a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy? "Dude, if the cancer doesn't go into remission by November, you should, uh, just give up."

And yes, I'd gladly have cancer if I knew I'd never have to see another bed bug again! I'll move to Canada, do the chemo, puke my brains out and smoke all the medical marijuana I want. At least cancer sufferers don't have to be afraid their friends, family and co-workers will find out they have cancer, or worse, that they'll spread cancer by going to someone else's house or other people coming over to theirs.

If you read enough of this blog, you'll see there have been sporadic surges of bed bug sightings after weeks of seeing very few. I often wonder if I've unknowingly re-introduced bed bugs into my home.

This post has become waaayyyyy longer than I initially expected it to be, so I'll wrap up now!

Thanks for all the kind words, and I'm glad to know that Bugged Out is still helping people cope a but easier with their bed bug problems, even though one commenter apparently feels my time is up! I appreciate all the feedback you guys send me, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way. Your comments really compliment Bugged Out and are just as full of insight, news, tips, stories and information as this blog.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Yes, I Still Have Bed Bugs

I see there's been a bit of a debate as to whether or not I still have bed bugs in my apartment. To respond to one slightly rude anonymous commenter:

The answer to the question "do you have bedbugs?" isn't yes and no. It's yes. I'm sorry, but if what you describe is true, then yes, you still have bedbugs.

There's been a reduction in the population in your apt. But you're still finding live bedbugs. Only some of the ones you find are dead. You either have bedbugs or you don't.

You're still getting bitten. You probably don't react anymore, but your girlfriend still reacts.

Since you're doing regular deep cleaning anyway, try steam on all your furniture and home crevices. Get a decent steamer. Read Australia's Code of Practices re: bedbugs. Deep steaming kills bedbugs.

Your blog's been around for a while. It might give people the wrong impression that it's acceptable to "live with bedbugs." This has gone on so long, you guys have probably spread them to school, work, public transit etc.

I know this sounds harsh, but wake up!

To second anonymous: your goal should be eradicating the bugs from your home. Don't settle for just getting bit less.-Anonymous commenter
Do I still have bed bugs? Yes. Is it a full-blown infestation? No. Even though it's been over a year since I had a full-blown bed bug infestation, I've found the experience to be so traumatizing that I clean and inspect my home as I were waiting for another large infestation to appear. When most people say they have bed bugs, they pretty much mean a full-blown infestation where they only feel uncomfortable sleeping with all the lights on wearing socks and sweatpants and long-sleeved shirts. That's also the mental image that I have when people tell me they have bed bugs.

Also, having this blog for so long is in no way a message that it is "acceptable" to live with bed bugs. This ignorant commenter obviously has never had bed bugs in their home, at least not for very long. Anyone who has ever had bed bugs will tell you that is a never ending ordeal and eradicating bed bugs is a long-term task that requires a significant amount of time, money and effort. If the commenter bothered to read the header at the top of the website, they will plainly see that Bugged Out was created to facilitate an online community for New Yorkers who are suffering or know someone who is suffering from bed bugs, not solely to chronicle my personal ordeal with bed bugs. I have no problem with non-New Yorkers or non-Americans relating their experiences, fears, tips, triumphs, etc., in regards to bed bugs. Perhaps I should create an FAQ page for people like the Australian commenter.

Anyone who thinks this blog or any bed bug blog that is as old as Bugged Out promotes the idea that it is acceptable to live with bed bugs is an idiot, and I suppose that includes the commenter who suggested such a ridiculous notion. I am by no means a bed bug advocate. It is not acceptable, ever, to live with bed bugs. When I say I live with bed bugs, I do not mean humans and bed bugs should live in peace and harmony. When I say I live with bed bugs, it is to me, like saying "I live with HIV or cancer". I do see bed bugs as a communicable disease that affects millions, and the only difference between living with bed bugs and living with HIV or cancer is that with cancer, at least you get sympathy. Is it acceptable to live with cancer? Of course not.
"Since you're doing regular deep cleaning anyway, try steam on all your furniture and home crevices. Get a decent steamer. Read Australia's Code of Practices re: bedbugs. Deep steaming kills bedbugs."-Anonymous commenter
Since the commenter seems to be quoting from Australia's Code of Practices (I thought you Australians spell it as "practise", or is that just the British?) I'm guessing they are from Australia. Perhaps the American use of passive-sounding language (i.e., "living with cancer" as opposed to "suffering from cancer") is confusing to foreigners. Yes, I am suffering from bed bugs, but I am still living nonetheless. Funny how Americans employ such passive-sounding language when you consider how warlike our government is. Perhaps like most non-Americans, the commenter thinks all Americans are outrageously wealthy. Yanks, when we're not gun-slinging and adjusting our cowboy hats, actually do make ourselves aware of the power of steam cleaners. I just can't afford one. I don't even own a vacuum cleaner.

As for spreading bed bugs around to work, school, etc., I am happy to say that this is no longer true for me. One of the other reasons I said yes and no as to whether or not I still have bed bugs is that I no longer spread them wherever I go. I know it sounds impossible, but I've always conducted a thorough inspection of my backpack before going out, always finding one or two bed bugs hiding under a flap or something, but in the last few months my inspections of my clothes, jacket and backpack have shown nothing.

What's more, M and I have been apartment-sitting my future mother-in-law's home for a few weeks last month. If I was spreading bed bugs, I would've seen one there after a few weeks. We're talking about a species of insect that can breed a few generations within one week. The absence of bed bugs in her home after four weeks, to myself and any other rationally-thinking human being, is clear evidence that I am no longer spreading any bed bugs from my home. M's mother is back home and she can be somewhat critical of me (and everyone else), so I'm sure if she finds any bed bugs, she'll have no problem letting me know. The fact that I don't seem to be spreading bed bugs anymore is another reason I said yes and no as to whether or not I still have bed bugs.

So do I have bed bugs? Yes. Am I still experiencing the typical symptoms that almost all people suffering from bed bugs endure? No. I thought I made that clear in my last post. Please don't take my little backlash as hostility towards Australians or any other nationality, for that matter, but rather my response to a single, anonymous and ignorant comment .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

Many of you may have read or seen on TV stories about dogs that have been trained to sniff bed bugs. Now, Advanced K9 Detectives, a company that boasts a pack of bed bug sniffing dogs that can quickly, cheaply-and most importantly, effectively-sniff a room for bed bugs following an exterminator's visit.

It amazes me how dogs' powerful sense of smell-which can be as much as 2,000 times stronger than that of a human-can be capitalized on to detect so many different things. There are even dogs who can sniff out bootleg DVDs!

But I am not interested in hiring Advanced K9 or any other similar company; I want to know how a dog can be properly trained to detect bed bugs. I would love to buy a beagle or any other breed that could accurately pinpoint the secret locations of the bed bugs in my home, because although I haven't been bitten in a long time, I do occasionally come across a dead bed bug or two, which makes me believe they're still out there, like Al-Qaeda, silently waiting to execute their next great attack.

Would anyone know if this is possible for a civilian to own a detection dog? M loves dogs and I know a trained bed bug sniffing dog would be an incredible bonus to having a dog living with us.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Do I Still Have Bed Bugs?

I felt the urge to respond to this anonymous commenter who inquired:

Hey, are you actually living with bed bugs? I mean, are you doing anything to keep them from, like, taking over your place 'cause I read that they multiply very quickly. And, what about you and M's body and face? Don't you guys get a lotta bites from these suckers?

Respond when you can. Thanks
Well, anonymous commenter,

First off, thanks for keeping up with the ongoing saga between M and I. To be honest I've been deliberately vague about the actual current status of our bed bug situation, mostly because more and more people are becoming aware of this blog, and my other blog in which I am not so anonymous. What's more, M also has her own blog in an effort to promote her cooking career and we're being invited to more and more public events, and quite frankly, I don't want anyone to think we're cooking with bed bugs in the food or our home is overrun with bed bugs or we're walking around with some whacky "bed bug disease". You'd be surprised how many people still think that bed bugs carry disease.

To answer your question, do we actually have bed bugs? Yes and no. We still have them, but we're not actually suffering from them anymore, and we've kept them under control. We see maybe two or three bed bugs a month, and rarely are they still alive. I don't get bitten anymore, but M does, which makes me believe that females are more susceptible than males to bed bugs. Even then, the bites are just as rare as bed bug sightings.

But this peaceful scenario did not occur overnight. Yes, my apartment was once overrun with bed bugs, to the point where I was sleeping on the floor with the lights on and hatchlings were being born by the thousands only inches from my sleeping head. To wake up in the middle of the night and the first thing you see is scores and scores of tiny brown bed bug eggs and babies just inches from your retina is worse than any nightmare you've ever had. It's an image you never really forget, and I always remind myself of that image whenever I feel like slacking off from keeping my home clean.

I had a lot of wooden furniture, which served as the perfect haven for colonies upon colonies of bed bugs. I've had to throw out almost all of my furniture and replace it with plastic and steel furniture, which was not easy since I was broke and had to spend a few months in a relatively empty living space until new non-wooden furniture entered my home piece by piece. In short, I had to go through a dramatic lifestyle change in order to rid my home of bed bugs. And even then, the eradication is never 100%. No exterminator can guarantee 100% bed bug annihilation, which didn't matter to me anyway since I couldn't afford one. Most exterminators highly recommend their bed bug-infested clientele take the same drastic steps I've taken. Also, I don't like the idea of unknown chemicals (especially industrial-strength chemicals which are illegal for non-exterminators to purchase) being sprayed in a space in which I eat and sleep.

As I've discussed before, I use an eco-friendly approach to killing roaches (because roach sprays and foggers causes bed bugs to scatter and hide, making it harder to kill them all) and I advise people to do the same with bed bugs. The most eco-friendly method I've found of getting rid of bed bugs is to simply get rid of your wooden furniture (if you have a full-blown infestation, chances are good that you will find small colonies of bed bugs already living in your furniture). The other step is to replace that wooden furniture with furniture made of plastic or metal. The other step is to adopt a lifestyle of serious routine cleaning. I mean, cleaning your home has to become like a religion for you if you want to get rid of bed bugs. That includes clutter. Throw away any old newspapers or magazines you may have lying around. Store your books in plastic food containers. It may look weird to have shelves full of books sealed in Tupperware but a full-blown bed bug infestation and a body full of bug bites look even worse. M and I have a financial goal of making enough money that we can someday hire someone to do all the routine cleaning.

Everyone tells me to tell my landlord to take care of the problem or to call 311 or to sue my landlord, but this is wayyyy easier said than done, especially when the assholes giving me all this helpful advice don't actually have to do any of this themselves. As I had discussed in earlier posts, holding landlords responsible for a bed bug infestation can be tricky, and if the landlord has a lawyer and you don't (which is my case) they can convince the city that not only are they not responsible for your infestation, but that you may be held liable for introducing bed bugs onto the property. It's also difficult to expect the government to do anything about a bed bug infestation because bed bugs do not carry disease and therefore do not pose any kind of public health threat. However, you can argue that a bed bug infestation and their biting can cause mental anguish, but this is obviously much harder to prove than a physical injury.
I simply don't have the time or money to travel to and from court over and over, fill out forms, take photos of my apartment, etc. What's more, the landlord may retaliate by trying to find you in violation of your lease. And in New York City, the hometown of over-regulation, some leases have so many terms most tenants are unknowingly in violation of them in some tiny superficial way.

As for multiplying quickly, bed bugs can lay about 500 eggs in their lifetime. And those 500 bed bugs, upon reaching adulthood can each lay their own 500 eggs. So yeah, they can multiply quickly in a very short time.

I hope I answered your questions. For more details on my personal bed bug experience, I suggest you browse the rest of this blog.