Bed bugs not only bite people, they frequently appear in TV sound bites. For example, this recent sound bite from the David Letterman Show featuring NY City Mayor Bloomberg:
Letterman: What are we going to do about the rats? On Manhattan. Forget the other boroughs. And the bed bugs. What are we going to do?
Bloomberg: We’re going to try to export them.
Letterman: If you brought the rats to come in to kill the bed bugs, who wins?
Bloomberg: Actually, the bed bugs are probably tougher.
To people with bed bug infestations bed bugs are not a laughing matter. Mayor Bloomberg has convened a 10 member “Bedbug Advisory Board” that includes 3 entomologists. The Gothamist reports,
…key elements of the plan include creating a bed bug task force headed by an entomologist, a public education push, a city-funded “Bed Bug Academy” for building & property managers, assigning bed bug cases higher priority in Housing Court, and giving stronger rights of access to bed bug-infested apartments. The battle plan will also establish a clear protocol for residents dealing with a bed bug problem, including a “triage” plan detailing what to do in the first 24 hours (i.e. MOVE!).
Several city and state offices have had bed bug infestations. Inspection and treatment is expensive. In the case of the NY District Attorney office, beagle dogs trained to detect bed bugs by their odor were used as part of the inspection. It is expensive and time consuming to train dogs, but they can often locate infestations that humans cannot.
Education is one of the keys to controlling bed bugs. A recent study by Purdue Entomologists found that many people with bed bug infestations did not realize it. They also found that a bed bug infestation that started in one apartment spread to the entire building. Residents living next to an infested apartment had a greater than 50% chance that their own apartment was infested. Education and the ability to treat an entire structure (not just the isolated apartments) is important for control.
The need to eliminate bed bug infestations may require legal changes regarding tenant rights to refuse inspections and treatments and landlord responsibility for maintaining a bed bug free structure. A key is education. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.