Those koo-koo asianimators are at it again, with a brief little clip on the top cities for bedbuggery, culled from the lists at your friendly national pest control. As always, New York is top-a-da-heap!
I just received the January-February issue of Money, and I have no business receiving this magazine. What can I say, I like to laugh at the anecdotes about people with inappropriate asset allocations. On page 56, they have an article titled “5 Things You Need to Know About The Price of Bedbugs.”
1. “Smart defense is worth the price.”
Yadda yadda, bedbugs in movie theaters, hotels, gyms. Wait, gyms? Bedbugs in the steam room is a new one on us. With possible sexy results. But anyway, you will get bedbugs; certain doom. They suggest ClimbUp Interceptors and mattress and box spring covers for prevention. Mind you, ClimbUp Interceptors aren’t going to do a world of good if you come home from vacation and plop a bedbug infested suitcase right on your bed. They didn’t mention that bit, but I let you have it for free.
2. “Spotting Bugs Early Can Pay Off.”
They point out that you can save $200-300 on the cost of a trained bedbug sniffer dog inspection by just using your eyes. Imagine that, you can actually see bedbug signs, and you should check around your bed. Considering I spent time under a hotel bed with a flash light last week, this is not news to me, but I suppose it might be to some people. So get with the program: eyes before paranoia. If you can’t see anything, and you’re not being bitten, chances are you don’t need a dog. Put that money you would have spent on an inspection in a high-yield (haha!) savings account instead.
3. “Debugging is no DIY Project.”
Plenty of internet dwellers would beg to differ, but they make the point that if you don’t start off right, you merely prolong your agony and eventually you will need a pro for an even worse infestation. Then they gamely offer tips on how not to start off right: “You can try to battle bugs yourself by washing infested items or spot-treating them with a hot blow dryer or steam cleaner.” Yes, that does sound rather unspecific and incomplete. The spot-treating with a blow dryer is a new one on me. Here, hold still, bedbug, I’m going to murtalize you!
4. “Some Pros Like it Hot. Others Go Cold.”
More possible sexy results! We’re not the only ones who can pun around here, I see. They suggest that a professional fix can range in cost from $400 to up to $2,000 for a 2,000-square-foot home. This is the only real info on the actual price of battling bedbugs, as alluded to by the article title. They mention that standard treatments may include heating or freezing or pesticide application. Apparently heat treatment is 20-30% more expensive due to the equipment involved. Clearly they have never heard of the bedbug Christmas Lights Killer.
5. “You’ll Get Little Help With the Cleanup Bill.”
This bit is sadly true. Most homeowners insurance policies will give you nada, as things like pests and mold remediation are considered to fall under maintenance. Some cities, including Boston, New York, and San Francisco, require landlords to pay for extermination, but we’ve all heard stories where this just hasn’t happened.
Then, possibly the most hilarious sentence in the entire article: “If you bring bedbugs home from the office, your boss should let you take time off to remedy the situation; some may pick up the tab.” A real example, please? Is this the kind of thing that goes on a Goldman Sachs?
I am sure you are all wondering with baited breath to find out if I got bedbugs from our hotel! I am happy to report that I saw nary a sign of those little suckers. But I did get double charged! We can’t have nice things, obviously. If they don’t reverse the second charge, then I guess I’m going to have to find a bedbug and drop it off for a walkabout.
It really could be an eye-opening experience peeling back the sheets on a hotel bed, but I am happy to say these mattresses were pristine, as were the areas around the beds. Is it ever conceivable that you might spot a mattress that was stained from a past infestation but since heat treated and bedbug free? Is the only acceptable option for a hotel to destroy any mattress that has been implicated in an infestation? I am curious. We shlubs at home can’t always afford to toss a mattress, but a hotel should have a budget for total replacement, no? I would think there should at least be an encasement on the mattress, for added protection.
If you found an encasement on a hotel bed, would you demand another room just to be on the safe side, or would you assume they were aware of the problem and had it under control?
It was bound to happen: I have to stay in a hotel tonight. In a moderately cruddy small town where the Hampton Inn is the premier choice. Yes, bedbugs can lurk at any level of finery, and they do get to go some pretty fancy places, but as a rule I get a little hinky when a luxury brand isn’t available. This trip to the frozen tundra of Maine is not my idea of a good time, and if I return with bedbugs, I’ll be even more irate.
I just instructed my husband that NOTHING is to be set on the bed or floor until I have conducted a thorough white glove inspection. Luggage and the child will be placed on the luggage rack or in the tub. Coats will be hung in the closet. Outlaws will be hanged.
I will strip back the sheets and check the mattress for spots, streaks, bedbug casings, dead bedbugs, or heaven forfend, live bedbugs. Hotel bedspreads are some of the most disgusting pieces of fabric on Earth, so you bet I’ll be removing that as a matter of principle. I may skip the luminol check since it’s Christmas. Peace on earth and glorious ignorance to blood spatter from dead hookers and all.
I’ll also be poking around the night stands and baseboards and under the bed with a flashlight. If I find anything, we will march to the lobby and demand to be moved to another room. I’ll take photos first, because it’s always nice to threaten to put things on Trip Advisor if anyone sasses me with his mouth hole about getting a new room or a refund. I like to plan ahead. I’m not above picking up a sample with packing tape and sealing it in a Ziploc either. And of course if I can snag a live bug, we can finally start our Nix Bedbugs Science Research Colony.
I’ve also disabused my husband of the notion that all we have to do to prevent bringing home bedbugs is to leave the bags in the car in the cold for a day or two. The suitcases are getting bagged, and everything’s going straight into the washer when we get home. And the suitcase will get vacuumed within an inch of its life. If I actually found bedbug signs in the hotel room, I might spring for a PackTite just to be on the safe side. If you follow that link, be sure to use coupon code PT1217 at checkout to get $10 off PackTite Heaters through 12/31/10.
Have a safe and bedbug free holiday, everyone! What do you think the bedbugs will say when the animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve? I imagine them using rather rough language.
Stefany Anne Golberg, artist, writer, and member of the Flux Factory art collective, has written an extraordinary piece on the existential dilemma of bedbugs.
It begins with the tale of a loft infested with bedbugs. In the midst of a long struggle against the pests one of the victims declares she does not care about the bedbugs anymore. For most of us, unthinkable! Whether we have them or not, we cannot stop caring. For we are either desperate to get rid of them or terrified we will get them. From there, Golberg explores the territory of the essential nightmares of our lizard brains:
In our beds, in the dark, we are vulnerable. We succumb to an experience that is more terrifying than death — a living breathing state in which we have no control. We subconsciously tell ourselves a story every night to make the act of sleeping possible: that we will be safe and awaken safely at daybreak. Bedbugs fuck with this narrative. At night, we really belong to the bedbugs, these stupid disgusting creatures we cannot reason with, cannot easily destroy, who are not interested in our food, who will not go willingly into our traps. “Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite” is just another name for nightmares. Close your eyes, it says, and do not dream of evil.
She takes us through Camus’ The Plague and asks us how we would feel about the ancient pests if we imagined they were tiny dinosaurs. Or if we could view flies with the same delight as bees, like tiny winged kittens. We subject our own relative experience so totally on the existence of these creatures, is it possible to change the lens with which we view them and learn something about ourselves?
For a single, weary loft resident who can’t bring herself to care anymore this “acceptance without resignation” seems tantalyzingly possible.
Do you ever pick up the newspaper, see a headline about a burning building, and somehow you know it is the house in which you were born? Maybe you are an arsonist or maybe you are a narcissist. In my case, I happened to catch a headline today that read “Jersey City school infested with bedbugs”, and I could see my old elementary school before me, P.S. 23. It is the oldest public school in the city, built in 1919, with the ornamental facade and murky corners to prove it. There was a cuban store on the corner where we bought gum and sandwiches, and a paved playground just right for scrapping and skinning knees. So I click the link and indeed, it was my old school on Romaine Ave. and also George Wendt does not approve. WTF?
I looked up the story in the Jersey Journal. Old P.S. 23 is infested, and George Wendt is the concerned parent, angry that the school is not going to close and exterminate, but is attempting to quarantine the floors where the bedbugs were found until school lets out. This does seem a ridiculous plan, considering that bedbugs are not exactly stationary objects and exhibit an attraction to their food source. Have legs will travel, people!
I have gone all sentimental, thinking of the old school. But this is turned to dismay by thinking of the place having bedbugs. At least it is a comfort to know that even semi-famous people have to send their kids to dingy old vermin choked schools in Jersey City, as my parents did. I can tell those kids, the future is BRIGHT.
Sweet, sweet bedbug murder, that is. Ingenious Instructables.com contributor marcgr brings us the project Kill bedbugs with your Christmas lights. And to think we’ve just been using Christmas lights to spell rude words in the yard.
We all know that the holidays yield opportunities for unpleasant little gifts like fruitcake and travel-related bedbug infestation. Marcgr was inspired to create a bedbug death chamber for luggage after his own brush with bedbugs during business travel. His first project, Kill Bedbugs in Your Luggage, is a DIY version of the PackTite, but he was looking to simplify the amount of wiring required.
Why Christmas lights? I needed a heat source that could put out between 350-400 Watts of evenly distributed heat. Hotplates and hairdryers put out too much heat; and things like room heaters don’t have thermostats that go up to 125F. Christmas lights are perfect for the job!
Your goal is simple: heat your luggage or other awkwardly sized item to 125 F, sit back, and imagine the tiny screams of any bedbugs latched onto the seams and crevices of your luggage.
You’ll need a large metal trash can, Christmas lights, thermometers, a Christmas light timer, and various other simple electrical implements, as detailed here. Bear in mind you are using electricity and repurposing the lights for a situation the manufacturers did not intend, and you should read all steps carefully and proceed at your own risk if you want to try this, at least dialing the 9 and the 1 on your phone. Our money is on the regular PackTite, but this is certainly a novel seasonal alternative.
Hat tip for the link to my dad, who apparently still holds a grudge against bedbugs.
Of course, our hair trigger response is NO. And also, NO. However, we just read this essay by a bedbug victim in Toronto. She suggests that having bedbugs wasn’t all that bed. And further, that there was a (gasp!) silver lining. Even as she describes the extensive cleanup and treatment, she writes that the extermination effort was not so bad, found herself enjoying life with less clutter, and at last had the space to do some home improvement.
This is the first time we have read a rational account that suggested that a bedbug infestation is anything other than the worst thing that could ever happen to you. And this pleases us, because such a one-sided over-the-top whinge makes us all seem a bit crazy. Surely you do not need bedbugs to de-clutter, organize and improve you living situation, but if that’s what happens, you might as well start making that lemonade. And start buying large, sealable bags or clear contractor bags.
What has this dirty ol world come to? I wake to the news that George Takei has the bedbugs. My coffee tastes bitter, the sunlight mocks me with its clarity. The day has lost its sweetness, George Takei has bedbugs. Via the Toronto Sun:
He tells radio DJ Howard Stern, “We were (in New York) last month and nothing happened, and then this month, I’ve been eaten alive.”
Takei blames a trip to the theater. I blame the whole of this wretched universe, for letting these creatures out of their caves on our hides.
Social networking my eye. We declare the person of the year to be the notorious B.E.D.B.U.G. We found them in boutiques and bars, movie theaters, hotels, schools, hospitals, and even the U.N. Bedbugs are the are newest hazard for the paramedic. Just eww. They go everywhere we go, and will not go away. You will hear them everywhere talked about. Ozzy Osbourne has not heard of Justin Bieber, but I guarantee you he has heard of bedbugs. He is probably in league with them. They are taken to our leader and they do not come in peace.
Hats off to you Bedbugs, you are our Time’s Magazine’s person of the year.