According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as of 10/8/14, PAB Two has recalled about 1700 units of its Thermalstrike Expedition model bed bug treatment system due to a fire hazard:

PAB Two has received four reports of the flexible, electrical conducting strip breaking, including one report of a fire in a unit and three reports of units sparking. No injuries or significant property damage were reported.

Thermalstrike Expedition

Thermalstrike Expedition

The CPSC alert notes the products were sold by

Bedbug Central, Bedbug Supply, Protect-a-bed, Univar, pest control companies and pest control product distributors nationwide and online at Amazon.com from December 2011 through May 2014 for between $189 and $199.

The good news is there’s a fix and it doesn’t sound too complicated. If you have a Thermalstrike Expedition covered by the recall, here’s what you need to do:

Consumers should immediately stop using and unplug the Expedition and register their unit online to receive an ASC Diagnostic Unit free of charge. The diagnostic unit will immediately turn off the system when it detects a break in the conducting strip.

If you need additional information or help, the CPSC says you should contact

PAB Two toll-free at (866) 470-1755 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday or online at www.thermalstrike.com and click on Important Product Upgrade at the top of the page for more information.

You can also read the full alert from the USCPSC here.

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When bed bugs are found on Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains or buses, consumers should be notified, say New York City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) and State Assemblyman Bill Colton (D), according to the Daily News.

The Daily News notes that legislation Colton and Treyger are drafting will require consumers to be notified within 24 hours when bed bugs are found on buses and trains, and will also call for the MTA to let consumers know how the problem is being addressed in each instance.

A lot of people on the subway have been seeing something small and brown and saying something lately.

A brief recap: bed bugs were found on the N and 5 lines earlier in early August, and then later on the 4 by a consumer, with the ID confirmed by entomologist Gil Bloom in the Daily News (though the insect’s origins can’t be verified; see update below), and on the N, Q and the 6 this week.••  According to NBC News, as of Wednesday, at least five trains had been pulled out of service due to bed bugs this month.

The Transit Workers’ Union is expressing a lot of concern about its members. A conductor claims to have been bitten Monday on the N train, according to this Daily News article.  The Daily News also reported in mid-August that at least one cleaner (who cleans N and Q trains) and one conductor have discovered bed bugs at home during this same period; the cleaner asked the MTA for assistance with treatment, as she might have brought bed bugs home from work, but so far they are refusing to help.

I am all for people being notified of bed bugs being found in public places, and here’s why:  the more we expose the presence of bed bugs, the more people will realize how prevalent this problem is.

Maybe we can get people to take time to learn the signs of bed bugs, and what bed bugs look like, so they can check their seats before sitting down in public places, and so they can learn to detect the signs if they ever appear at home or work.  More awareness that bed bugs just “happen” and are not some kind of punishment for a lack of cleanliness can only help bring the issue more into the open.

More people talking about bed bugs means more people knowing more about bed bugs and therefore quite possibly fewer people getting bed bugs.

The downside of this sort of legislation is that some people will panic, as some no doubt already are.  I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh no!  Now bed bugs are on the subway too!”

Not exactly– there were surely bed bugs in the subway at least going back several years.  You just weren’t aware of it.  Being more aware does not necessarily equal being more at risk.

Another concern is that some folks already think bed bugs are “everywhere” — which also isn’t true.  They can be almost anywhere, but they are far from everywhere.  Even if there are some bed bugs on some subway trains, that does not mean they are all over any subway train, let alone all over a subway line.  For example, in the case of the N, the problem seemed to be concentrated largely around conductor’s seats and employee locker rooms.

We do need to be vigilant and learn what bed bugs look like, and record* and report sightings.  The NYC security mantra “If you see something, say something” doesn’t just apply to unattended parcels.  And the MTA does need to take this problem seriously and to train employees to look for bed bugs and their signs before someone complains about them being present.

But please don’t panic, and don’t top riding the subway and buses.

 

*Yes, I said “record” sightings– if you see what you think is a bed bug in public, by all means take a photo!  And then report it.

Update (8/28): Gil Bloom has commented below to clarify that while he has identified the insect found on the 4 as a bed bug, he can’t verify where it came from.  Thanks, Mr. Bloom!

 Image credit: “MTA: Off by a Factor of at Least 10^3″ by David Goehring on flickr.com. Image used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

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Move over alligators in the sewers, we’re still talking about bed bugs in the subway!

Here’s a follow-up to last night’s post about bed bugs being found in three NYC N train subway cars this week:

If video does not appear above, click here to view it: Fox New York News

Fox News NY talked to entomologist Lou Sorkin (a Bedbugger Forums regular) about the implications of bed bugs being found in the subway crew area of several trains.

We still don’t know if any of the N train bed bugs were found in passenger areas of the subway cars, as the Fox reporter in the clip above notes.

And there’s been no suggestion so far that the MTA is going any further in looking for bed bugs in the subway, beyond investigating after bed bugs are found.

I guess that means, “if you see something, say something.” But we know you would.

If the city really wants to help curb the spread of bed bugs, teaching employees to look for them (and what to do if they’re found) is a great idea. And an inexpensive one. And we know just the guy to do it.

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The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that bed bugs have been found in three separate N subway trains, which have since been “fumigated” (I am assuming this means — as in the common parlance — “treated with pesticides,” rather than fumigation per se).

According to the New York Daily News,

Two trains were taken out of service Sunday after the unwanted riders were found onboard some cars, officials said. And on Tuesday, a third N train was also sent to the Coney Island yard in Brooklyn for fumigation. Some of the bugs were found in seat cushions in train cabs, which are used by conductors and motormen, sources said.

The presence of bed bugs in employee-only areas of the subway trains suggests they were brought in by an employee or employees. Hopefully no one has taken bed bugs home from work.

It’s not clear whether bed bugs were also found in these instances in public areas of the subway cars.

It’s also not clear whether additional trains on additional lines are being searched at this point, or whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will wait for someone to notice bed bugs and complain before inspecting a particular train.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard reports of bed bugs in the NYC subway.

Let’s hope the MTA has become more pro-active about looking for them. If they haven’t, now’s a good time.

Update (8/6):

Here’s an update, with video of Fox News NY talking to Lou!

Image credit: “10:23 Enter here for the N, R and W trains” by Gary Denham on flickr.com used under a Creative Commons Attribution/No-Derivatives License.

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It’s that time of year, folks, bed bug season!

Sure, bed bugs happen year round, but they do tend to multiply and spread a bit more quickly in the warmer months, due to various factors. This means the pest management professionals are busy, and the consumers are too-often itchy (and hot, which makes itching worse).

Add in the fact that summer can be a slow time for news, which means the media is doing everything it can to report bed bug stories. If the local news haven’t got any hot bed bug stories, they will sometimes try and come up with something anyway.

Today we have this example, from the Salem News (in Salem, Missouri): the title, “Bed bugs are a year-round problem” suggests that we’re probably not going anywhere new and unchartered.

And the first three paragraphs do not disappoint. They note that bed bugs are nothing new, are found locally, and are a year-round problem.

(Yawn!)

But wait, here it comes, paragraph four:

“The best and easiest way to rid your home of bedbugs is to use a hair dryer to kill the bedbugs in your furniture, [Carol Shipley of Shipley’s Pest Control] said. You can also buy spray to kill them, but this isn’t always effective the first time. If it’s a severe infestation, you may have to get rid of your bed and burn it to be rid of the bedbugs.”

Conair Pro Style 1200 BlowConair Pro Style 1200 Blow Dryer

(Image credit: Conair Pro Style 1200 Blow Dryer by Twitchery on flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.)

 

Wow. There’s just so much going on there!

First, while a hair dryer does emit high heat which can kill bed bugs, the logistics of killing bed bugs with a hair dryer might be a bit impractical, and, depending how you use it, might even be hazardous. I don’t think we’ve heard any experts recommend a hair dryer for treating bed bugs.

A steamer would be a better choice than a hair dryer for killing bed bugs using heat. The back of your hand or a newspaper can be quite effective too.

And, yes, pesticides may require re-application, but that’s not a reason to eschew them. It is the reason pros will usually need to come back in 10-14 days and retreat. It stands to reason that do-it-yourselfers aren’t likely to kill bed bugs in one shot with spray pesticides either.

While we always recommend an experienced and knowledgeable professional be hired to treat for bed bugs if at all possible, if you need to do the bed bug treatment yourself, please do your research and be sure and get professional advice on using pesticides.

Finally, while experts tell us you usually do not need to discard belongings, keep in mind that if you do, “burning your bed” is probably not the best or safest way to do that, and I don’t know any experts who would recommend that.

I want to note that I don’t assume the advice in the article linked above was what was intended by the professionals cited in this story, since we all know that the news media often gets things a bit wrong.

However, it’s important to set the record straight on what works and to this end, I welcome further input in the comments below from readers (including experts) on the advice given in the Salem News story today.

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A tenant in Augusta, Georgia was horrified to find that after her building’s maintenance department treated her home for bed bugs, it smelled like kerosene.

She was right to be concerned, since applying kerosene is a dangerous and inappropriate method for treating bed bugs.

WRDW reports,

“They came in to spray for bed bugs, to exterminate for bed bugs, and this was almost going on two weeks, and the fumes from the machine got all over the apartment,” said [tenant Sonji Brantley].

She said maintenance at Fox Den Apartment off Wrightsboro Road used a chemical that smells like kerosene to treat her carpet for the pests. We arrived to find a pile of carpet sitting outside.

“If you smell it, you can smell the chemicals in it,” said Brantley. Workers were inside putting down new carpet.

(You can also view the video online at WRDW’s website.)

What’s with spraying the carpet?

As an aside, I’m not sure about the amount of attention given to the carpets here, since the pros on our forums don’t seem to talk much about treating carpets. The focus seems to be more on treating cracks and crevices.

Then again, if the maintenance crew were applying kerosene to treat for bed bugs, then it’s likely they don’t know a whole lot about this pest or how to get rid of it.

Thinking of using kerosene or gasoline? Don’t do it!

Kerosene is highly flammable and not a suitable treatment option for bed bugs. If your landlord uses a method like this, I recommend calling the local health and building departments to file a complaint.

Now, there’s always someone who comments on an article like this saying, “my grandparents used kerosene to treat bed bugs”. That may be so, but many people have burned their homes down using such methods. Don’t do it.

Gasoline treatment for bed bugs is thought to have been behind the infamous 1909 “crib fire” in Chicago, where 50 laborers died. (The laborers were living on a wooden structure — the “crib” — while working on a tunnel under Lake Michigan.)

There are many more effective and safer methods than kerosene and gasoline for treating bed bugs today. And yet this misguided approach is still common enough that the New York Fire Department has issued repeated warnings to city residents (for example in 2009 and 2011) that they shouldn’t use gasoline-based products to treat bed bugs.

Note also that in some places, like New York City, landlords have to hire a pest management professional to treat for bed bugs — they can’t just have a maintenance guy come in and spray (even if they’re using a legitimate pesticide). I’m not sure about the laws regarding this in Augusta, Georgia, where this story takes place.

Isopropyl Alcohol is also flammable

It’s worth reminding readers that 91% isopropyl alcohol use in treating bed bugs appears to be much more prevalent today than kerosene and gasoline, and is not without its dangers. While an effective contact killer for bed bugs, is also extremely flammable and numerous homeowners and tenants have started fires after using it.

For example, in 2012, up to 30 people were made homeless after a fire in Kentucky destroyed neighboring buildings, after a woman treated her sofa with alcohol.

During the period of 2009-2012, a Hamilton Co. Ohio man, a resident of Cincinnati’s Bond Hill, and an Avondale, Ohio woman, a Mount Carmel, Ohio tenant, and a Colerain Township, Ohio family all seem to have set their homes on fire in similar circumstances. And those are just a few examples.

Let’s not overlook the fact that the media coverage suggests these things seem to occur disproportionately in the Cincinnati area, a fact that suggests something about the availability of affordable bed bug treatment for homeowners and renters who have limited funds and live in the area.

It’s also important to note that in most or all of the above cases, a lit cigarette was involved, though it’s possible to start a fire in a flammable environment even without lighting a match or cigarette (electrical items can give off sparks, for example).

Do you need to do it yourself?

The bottom line is if your home needs bed bug treatment, there are more effective and safer methods than spraying alcohol everywhere or applying kerosene or gasoline. DIY methods can be effective, but you should choose those which never put your family, neighbors, or home in danger.

Consider methods like dry vapor steam (we have a FAQ on killing bed bugs with steam), and ask the volunteer experts on the forums about DIY treatment options. Do your research (our resources page is a good place to start, with links to free comprehensive guides to bed bugs and treatment).

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Bed bugs were found last week in the health center in the Greenville, Ohio Whirlpool plant, WDTN (2 NEWS) reports:

2 NEWS obtained a notice to employees that read in part, “We want to let you know that we had an isolated incident in the health center on Monday, June 9. There have been no other reports from any other areas since that time. A few bed bugs were found. There is no need to panic and this can be eliminated with minimal disruption.”

We’ve had many stories about bed bugs in the workplace, but this may be the first one involving a factory.

Bravo to Whirlpool for notifying employees immediately and being upfront about the issue and what is being done to address it.

According to 2 NEWS, the affected areas of the plant have been treated by pest management professionals twice and employees were asked to take belongings out of lockers so they could be sprayed. (Since the company makes washers and dryers, you’d think treating any stored clothing would be a breeze, right?)

The article also notes that the Darke County Health Department was going to follow up with an inspection of its own on Friday.

If the embedded video above does not load, you can watch this report on the 2 NEWS website.

The 2 NEWS article offers a list of “10 things people should know about bed bugs” which links to the CDC bed bugs FAQs. And unfortunately, it leads with this slightly misleading “fact”:

Bed bugs feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep

This is almost identical to the first point in the CDC FAQs, which begin with the point that, “Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.”

It is true that bed bugs feed solely on the blood of people and animals, but to suggest this only occurs “while they sleep” is misleading. Bed bugs can feed on animals or humans which are awake, though this is most likely to happen if they are in a still and relaxed position– sitting in a bus, theater, or cafe seat, or reclining on a sofa watching TV, for example.

This is relevant, because a lot of business owners don’t understand why they should be concerned about bed bugs in their properties, since people don’t sleep there. And people with bed bugs at home also do not understand why isolating their beds will not prevent bed bugs biting them elsewhere in their homes. Some think only bedrooms need professional inspections and treatment, an approach which may mean the problem persists undetected in upholstered seating, for example.

Bed bugs will bite humans when and where they can. It’s easier when you’re sleeping, but it will happen when you’re awake if that’s the bed bugs’ only option.

Getting back to the Whirlpool story, overall this seems like a good response to the problem. I like how the company notified all workers and brought professionals in to treat (and not just bringing them in once, since follow-ups are often needed).

However, the article did not indicate if employees were also educated about what bed bugs, fecal stains, eggs and cast skins look like, so they can search at home. I think this is always a good thing for any workplace to do. Remember that bed bugs in the staff health center were brought in by someone who was exposed to bed bugs — an employee, a supplier, etc. It may be that one or more employees has bed bugs at home.

Some employers even offer to send inspectors to employees’ homes if needed. Though costly for the company, it is worth considering, since it may save money in the long run if it prevents bed bugs being brought in again by the same person or others.

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Think you have bed bugs? Short on cash? Commercial bed bug monitors (such as those in our FAQ) can cost $20 per bed or more.

The University of Florida has now produced a helpful video explaining how consumers can construct homemade interceptor bed bug traps.

(Click here to view the video if you don’t see it above.)

Bed bug traps, including interceptor or pitfall monitors of this type, can help determine if you have bed bugs before treatment, and help determine whether bed bugs are gone during and after treatment.

Of course, lots of people have made their own interceptor-style monitors. However, if you’re going to do it, there are some pitfalls (see what I did there?) and it’s best to learn from the experts.

Note that calling this type of monitors “bed bug traps” as the University of Florida folks are doing does not mean you are likely to catch all your bed bugs and eliminate a problem in this way (as the word “trap” may suggest). We usually prefer the term “monitor” to “trap” for this reason.

If you have bed bugs, in most cases you will need thorough treatment to eliminate the problem. The exception will be if you had a very new problem and small number of bed bugs, and got lucky in the sense that they happened to all walk through the monitor and get stuck. That might happen, but don’t count on it.

Note also that interceptor traps are not your only option and their use is — like so many things in the bed bug world — not without controversy.

Be sure and read our FAQ on bed bug monitors, which goes into some of the pros and cons of interceptor monitors and other monitoring methods.

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How to live with bed bugs, a film from John’s Movies

May 4, 2014

If you’re creative, and get bed bugs, this often leads to bed bugs getting into your music, comics, art, writing or films. An interesting example is “How to live with bed bugs”, from John’s Movies.  The tongue-in-cheek film explains how to find bed bugs, bring them home, get your home treated (unsuccessfully), move, and discard […]

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Bed bugs in secondhand furniture shops concern Sharjah, UAE residents

April 28, 2014

The Khaleej Times reports that residents of Abu Shagara, a neighborhood of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates which is known for its used furniture shops, are calling for the stores to be relocated to non-residential areas due to concerns about rodents and insects, including bed bugs. The Khaleej Times states, Residents of areas popular for their […]

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Have you heard the Berlin Wall Theory about bed bugs?

April 24, 2014

This is a short video news segment about Dr. Dini Miller’s lab at Virginia Tech and her grad students who work on bed bug research. video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player What struck me most was this soundbite from Dini Miller about DNA testing of bed bug populations:

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Bed bugs found in two locations at Northwest Territories hospital

April 24, 2014

Bed bugs were found in two different locations at Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, according to the CBC News article Bedbugs discovered at Yellowknife’s Stanton Hospital. Bed bugs were found in both the staff lounge and men’s locker rooms. Image by CambridgeBayWeather [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons According to CBC News,

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