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How Do Bedbugs Feel About the Midterm Elections?

Posted: November 4th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Did the bedbugs of America get up to feed Wednesday morning and start muttering amongst themselves about politics? Are they even particularly invested in the political process in terms of maintaining their survival?  Are bedbugs greedy welfare queens, doing nothing but having litters of little bedbugs and sucking your life blood after you work hard all day, damn it?

Bedbugs are the closest thing we have to an equal opportunity pest. They are a uniter, not a divider. They care not whether you support fetal minimum wage or whether you ride tax loopholes or an immigrant all the way to the bank. They’ll bite you anyway, if they happen to squeak their way into your home, by hitching a ride on the instep of your Louboutins or popping out of the baseboard thanks to a rowdy infestation in the studio apartment next door. We all can agree that they are not America’s Favorite Houseguest. We’d all happily vote for bedbug interment camps if we could. We are not for genocide, mind you,  just insecticide.

There has been some speculation that the tightening of environmental regulations, including the 1972 ban on DDT, have paved the way for the rise of the bedbug. Are bedbugs the fault of namby pamby liberals who want everyone living in a safe but bland nanny state? This Newsweek article points out that bedbugs actually developed a resistance to DDT prior to the ban, so it’s a bit of a moot point. ““Bloggers talk about bringing back DDT,” says Bob Rosenberg, director of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, “but we had stopped using it even before 1972.””

However, they bring up other regulatory concerns when it comes to bedbugs. In 2002, Diazinon was banned for indoor use, despite still being effective after other entire classes of pesticides had become largely useless.

According to Dini Miller, an entomologist at Virginia Tech, the holy grail of pesticides is “something that you can spray on the floor and two months later a bug will pick up a lethal dose from walking across it.” Most current pesticides need to be applied nearly directly to the bug to be effective.

Propoxur seemed to be a solid bet, but when the EPA asked for more safety data in 2007, the manufacturer simply pulled it from the residential market. Per the article, “As a political matter, you face the awkward fact that several of the key decisions, in 2002 and 2007, were taken under the auspices of the famously antiregulatory Bush administration.”

Last year the EPA refused the bedbug-stricken state of Ohio’s request for an emergency exemption from the ban on Propoxur, basing their rejection on the potential unstudied danger to children in a home. Apparently the agency is still considering making it available on an emergency basis if special precautions for children are followed.

There are no new chemicals in the pipeline, and, as Miller points out, companies looking at a 10-year testing and approval process costing as much as $200 million aren’t lining up to produce one. The big profits in pesticides are in crops and lawns, and research money, such as it is, mostly goes to mosquitoes. Bedbugs suffer—or, from their point of view, benefit—from the fact that they are merely household pests and don’t transmit disease. Miller, in jest, says she sometimes wishes they did.

So, bedbugs, it looks like you may be off the hook for now. Even an overnight sea change in government can’t alter the fact that research still needs to be done. It’s unlikely that the patent and testing and approval process will be dismantled overnight, especially not in a congress split between red and blue control.

Or maybe bedbugs will in fact turn out to be the new WPA as infestations spread. Job creation! Ahem. Not that we do this for a living or anything. Come forth, ye unemployed, don a headlamp and grab your contractor bags and a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol. The government will pay you a shiny hay penny per bedbug head. You’d be wise to convert that to gold, ASAP.

Ain’t no party like a bedbug party

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

From rally to restore fear/sanity

Now that’s what we’re talking about, America. Elect bedbugs the scourge of the nation! I’m not sure what chickens have to do with bedbugs, but can you imagine if they started helping them somehow?

This has been www.nixbedbugs.com. Election Day Edition.

But What Would Steve Jobs Say About Traumatic Insemination?

Posted: November 1st, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Well, nerds, now the New York Times tell us there is in fact an app for bedbugs. Wish I’d thought of that one! It’s a Google map using GPS to identify bedbug-riddled areas, informed by media reports, governement agencies, and users of the service.

Will seeing little red pins all over New York make you any more cautious than you already are? I say semper paratus, like a good scout. You don’t need a map to tell you bedbugs are everywhere. Of course they are! You should use the same caution no matter where you go, from the fancy places bedbugs like to go like nice hotels to the dive theater where you take the date you don’t like to take out where real people are.

Am I the only one above carrying a tiny Maglite on my keychain for a quick look-see into the potential habitats of bedbugs? Spend that $1.99 for the app on your poor hideous date instead.

Why Me, Bedbugs?

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

You awake, scabby and crusty, swearing to never touch meth again. Oh, you’re itchy too, and you don’t have a personal meth lab set up in the tub? Yeah, probably bedbugs. But wait, your beloved who slumbers beside you doesn’t have any bites at all. What gives? Is your lover sneaking out on you the whole night? Are you sleepwalking and sleeping in someone else’s bed by accident? Do bedbugs just like you better?

Yes, it is possible for one person in a household to be the target of bedbugs while the other inhabitants skate scott free. One answer for such one-sided noshing is that the afflicted party is allergic to the bites while the other is not. The non-bitten party could be bitten, but if there is no allergic reaction, he or she will not end up with swollen, itchy bites.

Another possibility has to do with bedbug behavior. They like to hang out together and tend to cluster during feeding behavior, so you may be the unlucky soul on the “bedbug side of the bed.” Once they’ve found a host, they tend to feed several times from the same host, especially in the classic “breakfast-lunch-dinner” bite pattern with three bites clustered closely together or in a line. They are unlikely to stop for a bite on your arm and then cross an entire bed to sample your blanket buddy.

At this time we are only offering advice on treatment, not on how to redirect the bedbugs to your partner. However, you could probably try switching sides of the bed without telling the other person why, just sayin’.

Oh, Snooki

Posted: October 28th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

Be careful what you ask for, ailment honey girl!

Sleep tight, malady but do NOT let the bedbugs bite. Are those ever a problem on the Shore?

[via Twitter]

Just When You Thought It Was Safe

Posted: October 28th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: | No Comments »

Post-ItSo how do you know when it’s over? Usually when someone dumps you via text message, Facebook status update, or a scribble on a 3M product, you begin to have your suspicions. But nothing’s certain in these bedbug-ridden times. You’ve been spritzing with this and that and bagging and drying and praying, maybe having a fling with a professional, and you’re no longer waking up with bites. Is it safe to start rolling around on the carpet again? To haul your shoe collection out of exile, to stop obsessively putting your cereal bowls on the clothes dryer rack?

Bedbug eggs take 6 to 17 days to hatch, according to Ohio State University. However, they can take up to one month to hatch if the environment is unusually cool. Hotter weather yields a faster hatching time.

The freshly hatched bedbugs are called nymphs, and they can immediately feed. To reach each next step on the 5 molt march to sexual maturity, a bedbug requires a blood meal. But nymphs can live several months without feeding.

So, great, if you manage to avoid getting bitten for more than 17-30 days straight, surely you must be free of the little suckers, right? We’re talking about bedbugs, and if there’s anything we’ve learned, the answer is nearly never as simple as it sounds. In most cases, according to Richard Cooper, entomologist, 3-4 treatments should be enough to contain most infestations, with dramatic reduction in severity after the first treatment. But the exact situation will depend on your type of dwelling and the severity of your initial infestation. Cornell University’s Integrated Pest Management program suggest the length of treatment with an IPM strategy will take about 3 weeks, with one week being prep time alone.

Conventional wisdom suggests treating every 10-14 days and not assuming you are in the clear until about two full months after you were bitten last. There is no particular exact science behind the two month suggestion that we can find, but it seems to be quite popular, and we know of no contradictory opinion backed by research. The trick is that some of the bug population will slink off to the hinterlands of your home or even all the way to a neighbor’s place, and they may come marching back at some point after treatment seems complete.

Is being on guard for two months after you last have evidence of infestation overkill? Perhaps, but do you really want to keep sleeping with the enemy? Once you’ve done the time consuming prep work, is it worth jumping the gun only to do it all again? What do “they” say, again? Keep calm and carry on? The only way out is through?

Bespoke Bedbugs

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Wow. Looks like you can advertise your sexy bedbug-free status wherever you go!

Bedbug Free Sweatshirt

Bedbug Free Hat

Bedbug Free Mug

Bedbug Tie

I don’t know. They are cute, but what would Anna Wintour do?

Weekly Link Rodeo, 10/27/2010: Solipsism Edition

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

This link rodeo gig was supposed to be a relaxing Saturday kind of thing, but we’ve encountered a little continental drift. I was gone last weekend too, but don’t worry, we never stop thinking about bedbugs! If you found yourself hanging around just gagging for updates, consider interning.

Desperately Seeking Bedbugs [via Nixbedbugs.com, as is everything else in this post]

My girl HJM and I searched Greenpoint high and low, looking for bedbugs. We even donned nurse uniforms to make it more official. We brandished clipboards and looked through magnifying glasses. Well, bedbugs are not swayed by trappings of authority. We checked every stray mattress, couch cushion, and jacket on the side of the street, from Manhattan Ave to the river banks. We found innumerable scraps of refuse and even human excrement, but no bedbugs.

So that was a disappointment. We have an important science project in mind, so we placed a Craigslist ad. While it didn’t get immediately deleted, no one has stepped up to offer us a bedbug either. I guess we’ll keep trying. I think JRN will look up from writing Science Corners and have a heart attack and ban us from visiting when we succeed.

THIS JUST IN, and we have zero confirmation, but I hear all the bedbugs are dressing as Snooki for Halloween.

While I was in Brooklyn, I trod near the ground where my own father experienced bedbugs 70 years ago. This was our most popular entry last week, and I think you will enjoy it, too! Sadly, I didn’t see a bedbug in Park Slope either. Just miles of beards and plaid. It’s like Christo is working in facial hair these days.

We wrote some great real information on freezing bedbugs and the perils of DIY extermination, but we know you’re all just here for the Ke$ha.

Ice, Ice Bedbug

Posted: October 25th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

The weather is getting colder, and people may be getting lulled into a false sense of security by the temperature with regard to their bedbug treatment needs. The other day, I heard someone advise someone else that bringing home used furniture was OK as long as you “put it out on the porch for a few cold days.” Alas, the mighty little bedbug is tougher than that.

Don’t be tempted to rely on cold weather or even your home fridge/freezer to rid yourself of bedbugs or prevent bedbugs unless you are prepared to follow some guidelines. Just how long do you need to freeze something to kill bedbugs, and how cold is cold enough?

Pest control professionals may be using techniques like Cryonite, which is an icy freezing spray created with liquid CO2. The spray temperature is about -110 ºF. The surface of the target will be brought down to about -20 º to -40 ºF, and theoretically, the spray clings long enough to effectively crystallize the water in the pest’s cells and kill it. The advantages to a technique like this are that there is no residue or chemical hazard left behind, and the spray vapor can penetrate into crevices and cracks, like baseboards.

However, you can rest assured that you aren’t about to replicate this technique at home by loading your dustbuster with ice cubes and setting it from suck to blow. You’ll often hear suggestions to “just” throw something in the freezer for a day, and of course anytime there is a “just” in a suggestion, you can begin to guess at its effectiveness.

Bedbugger points out that entomologist Lou Sorkin (who is fast becoming our hero) froze bedbugs for 5 days at -29 ºF. Some first instars (a bedbug moulting stage prior to sexual maturity)  lived after the first 4 hours and took up to 5 days to die. The average home freezer operates at about 0 ºF. If it’s the one attached to your fridge, chances are you are also opening it several times a day, which creates temperature fluctuations.

You can bet that your porch is not going to remain below zero for up to 5 days at a time unless you live in an incredibly punishing climate. Maybe if you can see Russia from your house.

Home cold treatment is certainly better than no treatment at all, but consider leaving any items in the freezer completely undisturbed for up to 2 weeks prior to considering them free and clear. Check your manufacturer’s booklet for details on your particular model. You might consider testing that claim with a thermometer as well. A freezer that is full is more efficient in cooling than one that only contains a few items, so that’s another thing to consider.

It’s possible to buy ultra-low temperature freezers, but of course you have to weigh out whether the cost of something like a separate chest freezer justifies not replacing the item in question. And these freezers take up extra space, which just may not be an option in a city apartment.

And freezing electronics would fall under the “never a good idea” category. We also do not advise freezing household pets and children, which should go without saying, but one never knows. This is the internet.

In short: the data on DIY home freezing is not great. We’d probably gamble on 2 weeks at 0 ºF, undisturbed completely, in a packed freezer if there were no better options. And we wouldn’t take things out of the freezer without leaving them sealed them up tight in plastic bags until we were sure the rest of the infestation in the home were contained. We definitely would not rely on “just” leaving something on a porch or “in the car in winter.”

Desperately Seeking Bedbugs

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , | 5 Comments »

What’s a girl got to do around here to find a bedbug? Your intrepid authors have been on a hunt through the streets of Greenpoint, but we’re just not connecting with bedbugs. Do they not like us? Are we legally dead and not emitting CO2? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a bedbug when you actually want one?

Nurse HBKNurse HJM

We’ve resorted to Craigslist ads. We have noble purposes, we assure you. Sciencey purposes. Our readers will not be disappointed, although PETA might be, but we can’t do it without you, bedbug infested scourge of the city.

You: bring America’s Next Top Bedbug in a jar. Already domesticated, see. We will pay $20 cash for one properly contained sample. Yes, we know it might be pregnant. Those damn things are like hamsters. Meet us at Tiffany’s.

**We could find nothing about the legality of such a transaction, but do advise, and we will re-evaluate our project goals.