Invasion of the Night Crawlers Bedbugs Reach Epidemic Levels

New Yorkers are used to their fair share of urban wildlife. There are the famed New York City cockroaches, of course. And mice and rats are expected in any gritty city. But the proliferation of bedbugs is a phenomenon that has gained a great deal of exposure recently, both in the press and by word of mouth among city dwellers.

The Nature of the Beast

Bedbugs are tiny nocturnal insects roughly the size of an apple seed, and feed exclusively on human blood, says Bill Cowley, owner-operator and vice president of Cowley's Termite & Pest Services in Neptune City, New Jersey. An adult female bedbug can lay between one and five eggs daily, and they hatch about a week later.

Fortunately, bedbugs aren’t as hungry as vampires. They don’t seek a blood meal every day, and can go several days—and even up to a month or more, if necessary—between each meal. Some experts say they can live for up to a year without feeding.

While experts don’t believe that bedbugs carry diseases, they can cause an allergic reaction in some which causes a red blotch or welt and makes the skin itch, much like a mosquito bite, says James Skinner, owner of A&C Exterminating Corp., a pest management company based in Long Island. And not everyone responds to being bitten.

Itchy blotches aside, perhaps the most damaging effect of a bedbug infestation is psychological. Going a round or two with the little blighters can sometimes trigger delusional parasitosis in infestation victims—the belief that your home is still infested with parasites, even long after the actual bugs have been eradicated. “You can start getting really paranoid,” Skinner says.


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  • I have had a difficult time derntmieing that we had bed bugs since I have never experienced them before. I thought we were getting bitten by a hungry spider at night time who were making two bites each time. Called the pest control and they sprayed a general spray. This did not have much affect since we continued to find evidence of bites. A couple months went by and we had the unit steam cleaned which helped temporarily.We also went out of town a couple of times, so the bites stopped momentarily. I hadn't noticed them before, but had made up other reasons for the skin lesions I was getting. Once I heard a neighbor had had the experience I started looking up info on the internet. At that point I was certain that I had the critters. I told my land lord and they finally, after quite a bit of back and forth, had a company come into investigate. They didn't find any evidence. We were told we couldn't have treatment until they actually found a bug. They have not found any although we continued to have bites. Finally, they came to investigate again since there were multiple reports in the building. I found evidence of the ink splots in a pillow that I had once it was washed. They had been living inside. The pillow had been on my couch. No action was taking until by the landlord until after I kept complaining. My doctor told me the bites looked like bed bug bites, but my landlord told me that I needed a dermatologist to verify they were bed bug bites.It takes 6 months to get into a dermatologist with a referral. Finally, finally the landlords brought in a company that sprayed twice, two weeks apart. This did not help. We have been experiencing bites at an increasing rate. It is July now, 8 months after the first indications and we still need treatment. I have found the diatomaceous earth and am hoping that will do the trick however I do not know everywhere where the bugs are hiding. Under the carpet? I found some dead bedbugs near my baseboards after following the video about sprinkling it in the baseboard cracks. Finally, the rugs are disgusting now that they have been sprayed, every last tiny particle of dirt, dust, and hair sticks to the rug. I will have it cleaned for the third time this year.