Friday, January 26, 2007

Bedbugs: I Got Them From a Toilet Seat, I Swear

Fuck. I have bedbugs. While I doubt they've made it to my room yet (I have no bites), my roommate has had a steady stream of 7-12 bites (that she's convinced are bedbug bites) for the past month or so. Yesterday, she found what she thought was a baby bedbug on the shower curtain.

I spent the morning in Inspector Gadget mode, using magnifying glasses and flashlights to inspect every nook and cranny in my room, ready to attack with a product called "Kills Bedbugs." Luckily, nothing... yet.

I spent the remainder of my day on the phone trying to get someone at my management company to understand the urgency of this situation. "Don't worry, I have it under control," said the woman who minutes before told me she'd call an exterminator on Monday. Monday?!?

Then I tried calling 311 and after a series of transfers, I finally made it to the housing court of Kings County, where a woman told me they won't tell me my tenant rights over the phone. "We only give legal advice in person."

I called the management company back. Still "under control." What's been done? "I'll call the super." Great.

The worst part? The guy who lived in my apartment before me--who I happen to know--never told me he'd had bedbugs. Three fucking times. When we went to look at the place we specifically asked if they had bug problems. "Nope."

Here's how my conversation went down with him today:
me: quick question... did you guys ever have a bed bug problem?
him: oh yeah
I'm pretty sure that they come in through the front window
people drop bedbug infested matresses [sic] out there all the time
they are horrendous little fuckers
me: seriously, you guys had bed bugs?
him: 3 separate times
me: wow, i wish i would have known that
him: we got rid of them each time
shit, they're everywhere in the hood [greenpoint]
it's impossible to avoid them anymore
me: i have to admit, had i known you guys had had a problem, i wouldn't have taken this apartment
him: well...
it's not a problem in the apartment
it's a problem in the neighborhood
I guess I figured it was everywhere by now
Obviously, I'm disturbed on many levels. And obviously, I was way too nice to "him."

UPDATE: False alarm! Whew. We did a thorough investigation and extermination, and have been doing regular maintenance exterminations. I have yet to get a bite or see one. I'm not letting those fuckers in here. Ever.

UPDATE Again: We had them. Bad.


kate said...

you might have them in your room and not be getting bitten. i had bedbugs (in greenpoint -- i just moved out, so no help on how to get rid of them) and my roomate (in the next room -- we shared a wall) was never bitten. i've actually heard of couples sharing a bed where one is bitten and not the other. it seems they like some folks better than others. i think also they generally go for the ladies over the men. yum. goodluck!

Anonymous said...

Even when they're gone, the memory of them will haunt you. I spent months staring at my walls, trying to find evidence of a possible return.

May I suggest:

Normally I stick to natural remedies/cleaners, but this kit is an amazing $100 trade off for peace of mind.

Anonymous said...

i live in the east village and we had this problem a few months ago. if they havent gotten into your bed yet (INSPECT IT! lift the bed from the mattress and check every crease!) put double sided carpet tape around the legs. they get stuck in it. also, dont let your bed touch anything...wall, curtain, anything! i feel your pain...that's an awful experience to go through.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend had them. Forget asking about your rights or waiting for building mgt. Just call the dept. of health and they'll get on it with an exterminator and give you very specific instructions you really shoud follow.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

call the health department. in the meantime internet the best way to deal with them. there's a pesticide i used once with a certain chemical in it. it's sold at ace hardware. be sure they use this certain chemical. also use two sided tape around your bed and put on floor of door entrance and they will get stuck if they crawl across it/ put these in a jar and save them so you have evidence and can show the exterminator.

Anonymous said...

I am -so- sorry. My first apartment in San Francisco was infested, and I mean INFESTED. I had never even heard of them before, but man was I traumatized by the experience.

Anyway, go to Bed Bath & Beyond and buy plastic mattress covers for your bed and box spring. Double-sided carpet tape is also a must, and by all means STAY ON TOP of the management company. Their main concern is minimizing costs of pest control and stuff, but if they're thinking long-term, it will be better for everyone.

Also, keep in mind--you can be exposed to bites for a while before they actually begin to show up. Inspect your bed carefully.

Anyway, keep calm and you can beat it. Like one of the previous commenters, I moved out to get away. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Last month I went home with a boy who lives in Brooklyn, and a few days later I considered calling him up and saying, "Listen, I've got this rash..."

Anonymous said...

I had them in the w. village. about a week after i moved in, i found out the building had a history of them, but informed to tell me. i had exterminators come in 4 times over the course of a week, and they assured me the building was so infested my best bet was to move. and move i did! i still have nightmares. MUCH LUCK!

Sally Tomato said...

I feel for you. Though I've never had a problem in my building (yet) every time I change the sheets I inspect all areas of the mattress for any signs of the little suckers. Seriously, if I find one I'm going to light that sh-t on fire.

Kellie said...

i had them in greenpoint, too... near bedford and manhattan. i washed everything in extremely hot water, double bagged it at the laundromat and moved out.. didn't have any furniture to take. ugh. you have my sympathies.

Drew said...

Just an FYI - you can be bitten without having any visible bite marks. Some people have a reaction to the bites, some don't. The bugs inject a tiny chemical into you when they bite, apparently that's what causes the reaction and subsequent mark, but only if your skin reacts to it (which is most people, but not everyone).

Anonymous said...

When you throw out your matress and get a new one -be sure to buy a plastic cover for both the box spring and top mattress. Bed bugs love corners.

Rat Blood On Her said...

about 2 or 3 months ago my apt building was actually named in the nytimes for bed bug problems..... only a few weeks after i signed a year lease. you have to exterminate every apt in the building or else they will just kept jumping from one apt to the next and comeing back.

nobugsonme said...

Darnit, bed bugs suck. Listen, get your landlord to hire an experienced Pest Control Operator--one who knows bed bugs. The landlord must pay.

We have FAQs on dealing with this, including explanations of your rights:

natalia said...

I feel your pain. I had the same problem for about a year before I realized what it was. Then I couldn't sleep for months, totally paranoid. I ended up getting rid of my whole bed and getting a new one. I also put tape all over the fissures on the walls.

Here's how others have been coping:

Anonymous said...

Go onto this blog...we have an ongoing support group to help people. The scary thing is that I am now realizing the extent of the spread when someone says "it's not an apt. problem, it's a neighborhood problem".. So go onto this link..theres lots of great info. and support.

Anonymous said...

Hi - has anyone here ever gotten bedbugs from purchasing a refurbished mattress?

Anonymous said...

You don't have to throw out your mattress -- since bedbugs don't live in your mattress (they live in places like your baseboards, floorboards and other tiny cracks) it doesn't necessarily help.

But you SHOULD take EVERYTHING you own that can be washed, put it in plastic bags, and carry it (do not drag! you'll spread them more) to a laundromat. Wash everything on super hot. Dry it on high for at least an hour. If it won't survive this, try sticking it in a freezer for at least two weeks. Put everything into NEW plastic bags, and carry it back. You should repeat this process every so often as anything that touches surfaces in your apartment may become tainted with the bed bugs.

When I had them, I just went ahead and called an exterminator without waiting for my landlord to do anything. He later agreed to pay for half, which seemed fair to me, since we were the only ones in the place with any issues (and he lived downstairs, so I tend to believe him.) Make sure you get an exterminator who will agree to come back as many times as needed until they're gone. Also, ask them to use gentrol (I think that's the chemical name) in it -- while there is nothing that kills bed bug eggs, this at least renders them infertile, so the next generation born should be the last.

Don't focus on trying to hunt down and kill individual bed bugs -- they're really sneaky fuckers. Instead, worry about vacuuming up every corner (and seal the vacuum bag up in a plastic bag and throw it out -- don't leave that around the apt.) and caulking any cracks in the walls you can find (though you might want to wait until the exterminator comes and sprays his stuff everywhere to seal it up... i like the idea of sealing those things in there with poison.

Good luck. I got rid of them (and stayed bed bug free for over a year and a half, when I finally moved out for non-bed-bug reasons) after less than a month of aggressive attack.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that they also spread when you buy a new mattress from one of those places that takes away your old mattress--old and new mattresses are in the same truck, so the bugs spread.

Anonymous said...

for all of those saying this is a neighborhood problem throughout greenpoint, could you be specific as to which streets?

eefers said...

India Street.

Anonymous said...

Poor you. I had them in Hell's Kitchen, under similar circumstances, i.e. our neighbors had them before we moved in and they did not tell us. I think if it is in the whole building you will have a very difficult time getting rid of them unless everyone in the building works together to wash all their clothes, vacuum every inch, and get exterminators in there. Otherwise, they will just leave your apt., go to someone else's and then come back a few months later. That's what happened to me, so we just moved out after trying to get rid of them a few times. BUT, we did sue our landlords and won! They had paid for the exterminator, but we sued them in small claims for reimbursement from all the money we spent on washing/dry cleaning our clothes, cleaning the apt., new mattress, moving costs, anything we could think of that related to the bedbugs, so SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS!!! In our opinion, and the judge's, all of those costs were related to exterminating the apt. and because it was in the building beforehand, it is their fault, not yours. (Get your friend to write his statement and sign it that he had them before). Warranty of Habitability states that the landlord must provide a vermin-free living space.

Anonymous said...


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